“Continued Presence of the Army is One of the More Serious Setbacks to Us”: Says NPC CM Wigneswaran
“Continued presence of the Army is one of the more serious setbacks to us and the continued intention of the successive Governments under the pretext of giving water to the Northern Province to settle people from outside the Province is an equally serious phenomenon which affects the demography of the area” said the Chief Minister, Northern Provincial Council PC, Justice C.V.Wigneswaran.
Wigneswaran was delivering introductory talk during the international media conference call held today in California, to discuss the findings of “The Long Shadow of War”, first independent report which details Human Rights abuses and property seizures in Sri Lanka, published by Oakland Institute.
“While the Army cultivates fertile lands and take their produce, their owners live in makeshift refugee camps. The Military is engaged in large scale property developments, construction projects, business ventures and Tourist activities” he accused.
The gist of his speech is as follows:
The cover of the Oakland Institute Publication “The Long Shadow of War – The Struggle for Justice in Post War Sri Lanka” more or less summarises the predicament of our People in the Northern Province. The shadow of war has extended for six years. We have during this period struggled for Justice in post war Sri Lanka.
Then again “Drive slow Troops ahead” is symbolic of our tardy progress even after the election of the Northern Provincial Council. The presence of a large contingent of the Military in the Northern Province alleged to be around 150000 who might mostly be those who committed the war crimes, restricts our progress. Our peoples’ fertile cultivable lands have been taken, houses have been taken and in fact applications for more and more lands and houses to be vested in them are still being made by the Military. Wherever possible I have refused such vesting applications. While the Army cultivates fertile lands and take their produce, their owners live in makeshift refugee camps. The British Prime Minister made it an occasion to visit one such Camp when he visited us some time ago. The Military is engaged in large scale property developments, construction projects, business ventures and Tourist activities. The Author of today’s publication has referred to these activities.
Under the guise of bringing water from the largest River in Sri Lanka the Mahaweli to the North, Mahaweli Authority’ lands are cleared and opened within our Province and Sinhala persons from outside the Province are brought in to colonise such areas. The powers of the Mahaweli Authority intrudes into the fragile powers extended to the Provincial Council by the Thirteenth Amendment and has the capacity to cannibalise our lands and our rights over such lands. But up to now not a drop of water has reached us in the Northern Province from the Mahawali. While Tamil owners of lands still have their deeds in hand new title deeds to these lands have been handed over to the Sinhala colonists by the previous Government. No steps have been taken after the new Government came in to regularize this.
Therefore as an introduction let me refer to the continued presence of the Army as one of the more serious setbacks to us and the continued intention of the successive Governments under the pretext of giving water to the Northern Province to settle people from outside the Province as an equally serious phenomenon which affects the demography of the area.