Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has ordered the release of all the Tamil civilian lands held by the State in the country’s northern and eastern provinces by December 31, the President’s office said on Thursday. Sri Lanka witnessed three decades-long civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during which the military occupied civilian lands in the northern and eastern provinces for military purposes.
Since the end of the armed conflict in May 2009, a considerable part of private lands were released to the original owners.
It was not clear if the latest release instructions came from Mr. Sirisena in response to representations made by the main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in late August.
The TNA had told Mr. Sirisena that even 9 years after the conclusion of the civil war both agricultural and residential lands continued to be in possession of the armed forces.
Pointing to the lands in Keppapilavu in the Mullaitivu district, the TNA said that 75 acres of private land owned and possessed by local people for generations and centuries was held by the Army.
Mr. Sirisena told them then that more than 85% of the lands held by the military belonging to civilians had been released. However, the TNA urged that in order to achieve reconciliation and national integration, all lands belonging to the people which are now in the possession of the armed forces should be released without any further delay.