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  • » 08/01/2015, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Paanama residents betrayed by the government

    Melani Manel Perera

    Despite a new policy adopted last February, villagers have not yet been able to return home. For this reason, they filed a petition with the Human Rights Commission.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of families from the village of Paanama, in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, are still homeless. Despite a policy adopted in February by the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena, residents cannot yet get their land back.

    For this reason, they travelled to Colombo to file an official petition with the country’s Human Rights Commission on July 27 demanding the President’s Office do something about it.

    These people lost homes, land and everything they owned on 17 July 2010, when the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa had their land seized, ostensibly to develop the tourist sector. However, most of it was placed under military control as a “high security area”.

    P M Bandara, a resident of Paanama, remembers what happened. "That night, some armed and masked men stormed our homes and set them on fire,” she told AsiaNews.

    “I was taken. One of them ordered that petrol be poured on me so that I could be burnt alive. Luckily, I managed to break free and escape. I took refuge in Buddhist temple, a monk took my defence when they came looking for me."

    "I later went to hide in the jungle,” she said. “Then, after a few hours, I returned to my home. The soldiers took me again. I was beaten and had my clothes taken, but I was left alive. The next day, we were no longer able to return to the village."

    "This land are ours; this is land where we have lived for generations; this land has fed us. Here we are farmers and fishermen,” some women said as he spoke to AsiaNews.

    “Instead Rajapaksa’s men threw us out like dogs, without a thought to the fact that we too are human beings. We are fed up. We do not want to suffer like this."

    "All we ask is to get our land back,” they said.

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    See also

    02/07/2008 VIETNAM
    After 31 years Thai Binh seminary to reopen
    The authorities return the facility to the diocese. From September it will house 33 students. Some of them had started their journey towards the priesthood before it was shut down.

    20/12/2005 CHINA
    Shanxi Catholics appeal to Beijing to get Church property back
    After the violent beating of priests and nuns, Shanxi Catholics call on the government to have seized property returned to its legitimate owners.

    29/05/2009 VIETNAM
    If we ask, they don’t give us our churches; if we ask them to grant them to us, perhaps they will
    The approach to local authorities by the bishop of Bac Ninh, also known as the bishop of the poor, of unfortunate children and lepers in Than Binh Parish, might work.

    02/09/2008 VIETNAM
    Vietnamese Catholics write to Bush complaining about the repression they are experiencing
    The authorities have especially targeted prayer group leaders who called for the return of properties seized from the Church and local parishes.

    11/02/2008 VIETNAM
    The Catholics of Ho Chi Minh City manifest their solidarity with those of Hanoi
    Thousands express their support for the peaceful protest in the capital, aimed at obtaining the restitution of territory confiscated from the parish of Thái Hà.



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