Global Establishments seem to be extensively involved in channelling funds to Colombo through the so-called ‘environmental’ and ‘forest preservation’ projects that are conceived by the SL State and Colombo- and Sinhala-centric NGOs, which derive their funds from global programmes associated with the programmes being promoted by global Establishments, particularly the outfits of the West. In order to secure such funds, the agent-State in Colombo is relentlessly seizing the lands of Tamil-speaking peoples in the North and East. Retired Land Commissioner of Eastern Province, Mr Kathirkamathamby Kurunathan, in an interview to TamilNet this week was citing Gazetted seizure of lands from Musali in Mannaar to Ampaa'rai in the East and illustrated how these appropriations were circumventing even the safeguards of the SL Constitution and the principles of natural justice.
The politicians of the Tamil-speaking people should unitedly act against these land grabs. The division of Tamils into North and East should be resisted by all in the two provinces, the former deputy Land Commissioner of the merged North-Eastern Province said. All the politicians who have not done anything meaningful to ensure the territorial integrity of the Tamil-speaking peoples, should retire from the politics, Mr Kurunathan opined.
Eezham Tamils in the Northern and Eastern provinces have been blaming the SL State for waging a systematic structural and cultural genocide against them through seizing lands through the occupation paradigm of ‘Army and Archaeology’ after the genocidal onslaught on Tamils in May 2009.
Several SL ministries and departments based in Colombo such as the departments of Archaeology, Forest Conservation and Wildlife as well as the Mahaweli Ministry, which is led by SL President Maithiripala Sirisena, are jointly operating in seizing the lands in the North and East.
Why did Tamil politicians in the East fail to express their solidarity with the struggle of the protesting uprooted Tamils from Mu’l’lik-ku’lam in Mannaar in the Northern Province, Mr Kurunathan asked. The politicians in North should also pay equal concern and interest on Mu’l’likku’lam villagers in Mannaar district as they show their solidarity to the struggle of the uprooted people in Valikaamam North in Jaffna district, he said. The uprooted people of Mu'l'lik-ku'lam are now languishing inside the Church in the military occupied village, he added.
Recently, the Tamil-speaking Muslims in Musali have been forced to fight for their lands after SL President issued a Gazette notification seizing 40,000 hectares of lands in Musali for forest preservation.
The current regime has seized the lands that were distributed to Muslims in Musali division at Ma’richchukkaddi by former SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he observed. Around 100 of 426 plots lands, each measuring 0.5 acre, that were distributed to Muslim voters by Mahinda Rajapaksa have now been seized under the Gazette notification coming from Maithiripala Sirisena.
The Gazette notification was hurriedly issued by SL president while he was in Russia, say Muslim protesters questioning the reasons behind the hurry. None of the procedures that should be followed before appropriation of lands by the State had been followed, he said.
Similarly, at Maa’nikka-madu in Ampaa’rai, SL Archaeology department was behind gazetting a plot of land as archaeological reserve. This has taken place at an area with no Sinhala history of settlement. Later a group of monks entered the area and erected a Buddha statue. Then, they found out there was no route to the site and the provincial Land Commissioner, a Sinhalese, was trying to secure lands for the access road. Further, the SL State was behaving as if everything that gets demarcated as archaeological reserve was only connected to Sinhala Buddhism, he said.
There are procedures that should be followed prior to gazetting the appropriation of lands. These involve consulting the Government Agent and the Divisional Secretary, passing necessary resolutions at the divisional land use committee and acquiring clearance from agrarian and other involved offices at local level. The people of the area should also be consulted according to the principles of natural justice. But, none of these have been carried out before issuing the Gazette notifications, the former Land Commissioner said.
The SL State, in the rush of securing funds from external sources for its seizure of lands under the so-called environmental preservation, wildlife and forest conservation, doesn’t seem to be interested in following the procedures, he said.
“Why do you need a Constitution and Law if you are not interested in even following the clauses of your own Constitution,” Mr Kurunathan asked.
Tamils political leaders should have their main focus of demanding all the stakeholders to act upon delivering a political settlement towards merged North and East.
Without a political solution, there would be no power in the hands of Tamil speaking people in the North-East, to control their own affairs and preserve their interests. Therefore, this should be the main focus of Tamil politicians, said Mr Kurunathan, who has extensive experience on land affairs in the North-East.