10/14/2015, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Tamil refugees threaten massive actions, if "Colombo fails to return our lands"

by Melani Manel Perera
About 30 thousand displaced people living in camps in the north of the country. President Sirisena has promised several times to resolve the issue of settlements. Tamil leaders: "Are we second-class citizens? Why do we stand by while the army is occupying our property? ".

Colombo (AsiaNews) - More than two months after the publication of the report on the living conditions of the displaced Tamils ​​in camps in northern Sri Lanka "nothing has been done. We waited patiently, but now we are ready for massive action, if the President does not give us back our land. "

Hundreds of displaced Tamils ​​have gathered in Jaffna (in the north) to take stock of the actions taken at a local level to solve the problem of Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs). The refugees complain that they have been "forgotten" by the authorities of Colombo, who still have not returned all the lands seized by the army during the final stages of the civil war. Furthermore, they say incorrect data was presented recently in Parliament other than those submitted by associations that defend the rights of Tamils.

The gathering took place on October 9 in response to statements by DM Swaminathan, Minister for Resettlement and Rehabilitation, who reported to Parliament that there were 4 thousand displaced. Instead, activists report that there are 5,836 evacuees in shelters and at least 30 thousand civilians living in the Jaffna peninsula.

These numbers were published in early September by NAFSO (National Fisheries Solidarity Movement), which carried out a survey in the north of Sri Lanka. The group found 38 refugee camps in 27 divisions of the village (Grama Seva divisions) and found five new temporary villages. The results of the Jaffna report was published in Tamil too.

Rajeshwarie Selvamalar, leader of the Poonthalir Federation of Women NAFSO, told AsiaNews: "We are not respected in our country. We are second-class citizens? Why should we suffer when our lands are still there and the army enjoys them and takes our property? ".

Muththaiah Sivanathaveil, speaking to the crowd, appealed to President Sirisena [who recently returned land and launched a plan to allow agriculture benefits to Tamils ​​to return to their properties - Ed]: "Several times the president has said he would not forget us. He has repeated it in national and international events. So he has a responsibility to reinstate us in our places of origin, and not allow our lands to remain in the hands of the military. "

"Therefore - he concluded - there is no time for words. We want the facts. We want our land back, nothing more than that. For 26 years we have lived in refugee camps and we have waited two more months. If the president will not solve the problem, we will launch a massive class action ".

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