SL forces urged to leave public, private property
[TamilNet, Thursday, 15 August 2002, 15:15 GMT]
Sri Lankan armed forces occupy 160 public and private buildings and properties in the Mannar district, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission sources said. Following requests made by the SLMM and several civil society groups the Police, army and Navy vacated ten properties in Mannar town in accordance with the terms of the Cease-fire Agreement (CFA) between the government and the Liberation Tigers signed in February. The Police vacated some private homes it was occupying in Murunkan.
The Police, Sri Lanka army and navy currently occupy public buildings, private properties and homes in Talaimannar, Pesalai, Erukalampiddi, Puthukudiyiruppu, Murunkan –Kattaiyadampan, Murunkan, Uyiliankulam, Vanakalai and Mannar town.
The private properties include coconut plantations, the produce of which the owners have not been able to collect because of the presence of Sri Lankan security forces, SLMM sources in Mannar said.
Pressure from the public to persuade the security forces leave their properties is mounting steadily consequent to the Cease-fire Agreement, according to the sources.
The SLA occupies the whole of the Thirukketheeswaram village. Soldiers are encamped in the houses of people who serve the Thirukketheeswaram temple. The officials of the holy site said that the temple cannot function properly because the people who serve and assist in the Poojas are still displaced despite the promise of the CFA.
The Police continue to occupy the Kattaiadampan school building (near Murunkan town) despite the August 2 deadline stipulated in the ceasefire agreement, a Mannar SLMM source said.
The security forces are also encamped in the Murunkan post office, irrigation department office buildings and quarters in the Semmanthivu and in private lands and homes in Uyilankulam according to him.
In Mannar town, the Police occupy the buildings of the Sri Lanka Telecom, part of the District Secretariat compound, including the quarters of senior and middle level officials of the Kachcheri, the fish market in the suburb of Pallimunai, the Mannar Co-operative Council building complex and several private properties. The SLMM has received several requests from the public urging the return of these to their rightful owners, the sources said.
The residents of the village, Periyaneelanchenai in Mannar are unable to resettle in their homes because the security forces still occupy the whole area. The Sri Lanka Navy continues to be encamped in the premises of the Ceylon Electricity Board in Sunny Village near Mannar town.
Meanwhile, displaced Muslims returning to resettle in Talaimannar say that Tamil families whose homes and properties in the area were taken over by the Sri Lanka Navy are living in their (the Muslims') homes.
"It is unfair by us to expect these families to vacate our homes and properties now. The Navy has to realise our predicament and hand back to the Tamil families their homes and properties which it is occupying now," a Muslim community leader who visited Talaimannar last week said.
The Navy and Police are encamped in the Talaimannar pier, the railway and customs department buildings.
"We are trying to negotiate an early withdrawal of the Sri Lankan security forces from public and private buildings in Mannar under the terms and spirit of the accord and as a good will gesture to the people here," an official of the Mannar SLMM said.