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Statement by Senthan Selvarajah

Thursday, May 28, 2015

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Land grabs have been fundamental to the oppression of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka since independence in 1948.The theft of resources, land, and livelihoods has however, been quite often hidden.  

But there is an urgent need to understand the consequences of land grabs in the long-­term. Land grabs are just as violent, building injustice and exploitation into a social system.  

Lack  of  understanding  of  landgrabs  as  the  oppressive  mechanism  of  the  successive  Sri Lankan  governments against  the  Tamil  people  in  the  North  and  the  East,  is  one  of  the primary reasons for the failure of theinternational community to bring about accountability and justice for the Tamil victims in Sri Lanka. This lack ofunderstanding of land issues as a source of conflict is a result of successful propaganda strategy of the successive Sri Lankan governments to delegitimize the problems of the Tamils and justify the civil war, paving the way  for  the international  community  to  fail  in  its  legal  and  moral  considerations  and responsibility. 

Today media and research institutes need to play an important role to ensure prevention of further  human  rights violations  by establishing  a regime  of truth  and  to  depoliticize  the application of human rights instruments. 

Production  and  dissemination  of  information  on  oppression,  suppression  and  injustice through criticalresearch, serves to assess the true situation of human rights. In other words, it  calls for the establishment of aprima facie case, for a legitimate intervention on the part of the International Community.  

Within this context I hope the report of Oakland Institute will be a useful reference work for all, but especially thoseinvestigating the war crimes and human rights situation in post war Sri Lanka. This study is particularly welcomesince its findings are well documented and empirically established and that it is one of the very few investigativereports conducted on land issues in Sri Lanka by an independent research organization outside of Sri Lanka.    


Senthan Selvarajah, is a journalist and a human rights activist in the UK.