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progress report for last six month -CCFD

Written By Freedam to the nation resettlement of IDPs on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 | 6:16 PM

Freedom to the Nation, Resettlement to the Internally Displaced People
Narrative report for six month [01.01.2012 to 30.06.2012]
Overview: Political & Human Rights context in Sri Lanka
In post war SL during the past three years since May 2009, SL people experienced serious human rights violations, challenge to freedom of expression, erosion of rule of law, degradation of minority rights and democratic rights of the citizens in Sri Lanka. The oppressive mechanisms implemented during the war have been continued and sometimes intensified in many areas in the north and the east as well as in the south. There were 29 killings of media personal, more than 55 journalists moved out from the country as political exiles, several people were brutally assaulted, 5 media stations were burnt within 3 years and all these examples of the least or lack of space for the dissent and critical dialogue in SL society. The levels of abductions were alarmingly increased and within 6 months there were 59 people abducted and disappeared. Out of this 59 only 3 people were escaped. As media and also the victims themselves had revealed this was due to the involvement of top most political leadership and the secretary to the defence ministry. The rate of abduction was increased to the top within February and March 2012, within 60 days, there were 29 people abducted. This numbers were besides the attempt to abductions and narrowly escaped persons. It is well known fact today, the activists of NAFSO also become targets of abductions and unsuccessful attempt to abduct during the month of February. NAFSO activists were harassed in many ways with intimidations, taken to unpopular 4th floor of the criminal investigation department, questioning of national investigation bureau, surveillance etc were common to the NAFSO activists too with the thousands of others.
The voice of civil society was not heard and the recognition of CSOs was seriously limited. This was due to their continues cry for improvement of human rights, ensure democratic space for citizens, cry for the rights of the ethnic minorities including early yet standard resettlement of the IDPs and secure livelihoods and safety for the women headed families and the children.
However, government attempted to show the development through implementing number of mega development projects both N/E as well as south. Infra structure development programs were carried out with the loans from various countries, mainly from China. The Norochcholai coal power plant, Hambantota commercial harbor, extension of Colombo harbor with land reclamation, southern express high way, Upper Kotmale hydro power project, Moragahakanda reservoir construction and Hambantota international air port development, implementation of 4 express highways connecting Colombo with major cities are some of the examples of this development.
However, the Nagenahira Udanaya and Uthurata Wasanthaya are the main so called development programs in the north and east of Sri Lanka though the people in the area did not consider those as important at the moment. People in the N/E were undergone a brutal war in past 3 decades and what they expect is peace and harmony, decent living, no fear and insecure situation, enhancement of their livelihoods, resettle in a secure place unless they can get their original home and land, protection and income for the children and women who lost their bread winners in the family. The situation of those women and children have not improved even after 3 years of ending war. Resettlement program was not conducted at the speed and standard of it required. People claim this as a relocation rather resettlement. The housing program which was committed by the Indian government was not implemented as it was planned. Although the
Indian government committed to construct 50,000 houses in 2009 just after the war ended, there were only 500 houses constructed up to January 2012. This was revealed when the Indian external affairs minister Mr. Krishna visited SL in January 2012. At the same time, according to the government figures of the women headed families, there was a need to sustain 86,000 women who lost their bread winners in the family. However this was not addressed adequately and still remains a big question mark in the SL society.
When the organized violence increasing in the SL society and the accusations against SL authorities against the war crimes from international community, mainly counter the accusations in the UN Secretary General's report, SL government wanted to clear up the accusations and wanted to have a white wash from their crimes and abuses, and government appointed the LLRC commission to find an internal solution to the ethnic crisis through reconciliation and accountability. In November 2011, the LLRC report was handed over to the President which came up with some unexpected recommendations which could balance the CSO arguments for democratization of SL society in one hand, and the clear the war crimes claimed by the UN secretary general's report. When the LLRC report handed over to the president, it was clear that what SL government expected from the report. They wanted to clear up the war crime accusations from the world. Some critical CSOs over the process and the scope of the commission, did not take part the LLRC process. There were serious criticisms on the way it was appointed, the constituency of the personnel in it, the scope of investigations of the commission and no any trust on the commission and the outcome. But, to the surprise to the same CSOs, the LLRC recommendations were partly covered what CSOs demanding from the SL governments during the decades in the past. But as CSOs we had the experience of most of the appointed commission reports and their recommendations. We did not expect government would implement the recommendations. In that context CSOs had a dilemma how we could force the government to implement the recommendations. So, in this context it was very important the US resolution on Sri Lanka claiming road map to implement the LLRC recommendations as a home grown solution to the crisis and to establish democracy in Sri Lanka. With the way government responded to the US resolution in Geneva, it was very clear the LLRC recommendations would receive the same fate as the previous commissions appointed by the government.
NAFSO together with some other progressive CSOs in SL society started a campaign to demand the implementation of LLRC recommendations. This was done amidst the threats to the organizations, individuals who take a stand to demand to implementation of the LLRC recommendations in SL. Once we started to educate people, the contents of the LLRC recommendations, people realized how much they were mislead by the government lead campaign through media on LLRC recommendations. However, amidst the grave concern on threats to the life and work, NAFSO activists were able to continue their work on IDP, Women Headed Families and Fisher people who wanted to unite as North and South to demand their rights collectively.
It is commendable the work of the NAFSO activists amidst the threats to the life, intimidations and harassments and specifically with the vacuum of the period that the leadership was out of the country for safety. At the same time, NAFSO experience was far beyond the expectations what we as a movement expected the overwhelming support NAFSO received from people, fellow CSOs, media and religious groups in the difficult time of our era. All these gave us further courage and strengthen our commitments and convictions of our engagements to change the oppression and unjust situations in the country today.
Present condition of the Internally Displaced People's in North and East of SRI LANKA
Statistics of Internally Displaced People: Numbers of IDPs in Sri Lanka
The main sources for internal displacement figures in Sri Lanka are government figures as published in the monthly Joint Humanitarian Updates (JHUs) and the Common Humanitarian Action Plans (CHAPs), both issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). In addition, estimates of numbers of IDPs in Sri Lanka can be found in news articles and NGO reports.Based on available information, IDMC estimates that as of 31 December 2011 are as follows;
Resettlement / Return Progress of IDPs and Release Movements
Updates on the Remaining [NEW] IDP Statistics
As at 31.05.2012
NO
Inside the Relief Village
No of Families
No of Persons
01
Kadirgamar
769
2,562
02
Anandakumarasawmi (Zone 1)
1,032
3,469
Grand Total
1,801
6,031
Note: Under the temporary pass system 2726 IDPs are on free movement.
Absent 5,444 IDPs Shown, not included the present balance of 6031 Note: IDPs in transits from various camps (Vavuniya, Mannar, Jaffna, and Trincomalee) to districts of origin are not reflected due to ongoing return. Produced By : Ministry of Resettlement
According to the above records, there are only 6031 IDPs in SL as of 31 May 2012. However, there is no proper records to challenge those information as none of the NGO/ INGOs are ready to reveal the available information on IDPs. This is one of the challenges we, as NAFSO faced during this period of work. However, the actual situation is totally different to these figures and further we need to study to surface the actual figures. Most of the villages of the returnees to the village of their origin, it is reported in many places that the total number of returnees do not exceed even 25% of the originally inhabitants in those villages. At the same time, the IDPs of 1990s from Jaffna peninsular, mainly from the area of Palali are not counted today as the IDPs in the country. Those people are living in 56 IDPs camps in Jaffna peninsular with the number exceeding 26,000 households.
We want to report in the next progress report how we attempted to expose this situation collectively. However, we would like to send the report we produced and circulated among various levels as an instrument of advocacy on IDPs.
[ANNEX 1: IDP report- GOING BEHIND THE CAMOUFLAGES: Resettlement of the war affected IDPs in Sri Lanka]
"NO MORE IDPs in SL as of 26 September 2012"
Even though we are still talking about the IDPs in SL, this is what the GOSL is announced on 26th September. We want to report and expose the reality of the IDPs in our next report with details and pictures about the IDPs in Sri Lanka.
Women Headed Families:
NAFSO engage in organizing women who are the bread winners of the family as they lost their husbands during the brutal war. It says more than 86,000 women have become bread winners in the family and single mothers should feed the family alone. It is sad since the end of the brutal war women’s lives have not seen a dramatic transformation over the last three years and they have continued to face the challenges of safety, shelter, basic facilities and no land available or Most of them, even not allowed to go back to their own land or home which was their only source of income in the family.
Most of the farmland has been abandoned due to military occupation, high security zones or any other restrictions imposed by the military. Militarization of the everyday lives of people in the north has caused significant problems to women’s security, such as increased insecurity and even rape. In many areas there are no police posts and people need to seek the assistance and permission of the military for their daily needs. This places women in a vulnerable position. The extent of the depth of the crisis could be assessed through the number of ratio of military personnel and the general public in the northern province.
It was recorded there are 1 military person per 9 general public at the beginning of the year 2012. However, a recent report published in Economic and Political Weekly well known as EPW by an independent journalist revealed the ratio is 1:5 and not 1:9 as reported earlier.

Main activities conducted with these IDP Villages in N/E districts in Last six month: Information Collection:
 Collect and update the information from the each village.
 Workshops on Identify the resettlement condition of these villages.
Advocacy Programs:
 Discussion with Administrations and political leaders.
 Net working with other NGOs who work these areas
 Prepare the IDP stranded.
 Strengthen the Focus group discussion in Village level and regional level.
 Discussion for build the WHF federation in DS Divisions.
 Discussion for Identify the self employments projects.
 Advocacy and lobbying activities for getting their rights from the authorities.
 Sharing the reality of the life of WHFs with the Southern Families.
Education Programs:
 Educate the people on the governments programmed to re- register the lands in North and East,
 Work shop on Stress management and develop communication skills.
 Primary Health care training for the Women,
 Education on primary Law of women and general lows related to the IDP right.
 Education on Climate changes and food sovereignty.
 Training on basic Human rights,
 Discussion on find out the condition of the Missing Persons, Detainees and Political Prisoners in these villages.
Media Programs:
 Media discussions in district level.
Focus group discussion
We formed the15 focus groups in village level and three regional level groups in 2011 program. So there was a continuation for this year too. However, Jaffna and Killinochchi districts FGD did not continue regularly as expected. Village level FG meeting and Regional FGD were held in Mannar and Trincomalee every month. But in communities at Ampara and Batticaloa, they also do the village level and regional level meetings but not in regular basis. In each group they have selected five members in each village for the regional FGD. When they meet they planned for the coming month and share the responsibilities among the team. When they meet they plan out their activities according to their main issues that they have already identified.
Specific activities that FGD work out in last six month
01.To write letters to the Authorities for asking the basic need.
There are some interventions by the people of Mullikullam and they wrote letters continuously demanding to go back to their own place. Now they are on the process of getting their rights. Karamaleuththi people, in Trincomalle district are asking to cancel the pass system and give the freedom for the fishing operations. Sangamam people are asking the drinking water facilities from the government authorities. Valikakandi,Sangamam, Kirikunchimalai, people are asking a housing project from the government. All the WHF Families asking the livelihood program from the authorities. Still no positive answers. Thunpalachcholai and Kannagipuram WHF wrote letters asking their bread winners who disappeared after the 2009 .

02.Discussion with local government and DS on the livelihood and housing program .
Trincomalee district in Town and Gravette local government and DS asking repair the Tanks in Vilamkulam and Muthunagaer. Project passed for the Vilankulam tank.
Fishermen of Salli village area asking permission to do fishing around the Pigeon Island in Nilaweli area which is banned at the moment and out of bounds for fishermen.
Housing project for the Kirikunchimalai,Valikakandi[Chankaladi DS division and LG, Sangamam]
Land ownership for the Muthunagaer .Karamalaiuththu,Pumbuhar ,Mahamayapura

03.To meet several department officers and hand over the letters on their issues .
People mediated with the department of agriculture, fisheries, land, social services, women development, health, national housing authority, and electricity for their basic needs fulfilment.

04.FGD leaders and WHF leaders meet political leaders.
Local government from Town and Gravette in Trincomali to discuss the basic needs and livelihood projects. Hand over the petition to the chief minister of the provincial council in eastern province. <http://wodep.blogspot.com/2012_04_01_archive.html>
Some examples -100 metres road repaired in Vilamkulam.
Pasale people got one solar power plant for the one place in 50 houses village.
Pasale, Sangamm,and Mullikulam people got the Drinking water from the
local governments,
Two PHI officers were appointed for the Musali Division

05.Media briefing . <http://wodep.blogspot.com/2012_01_01_archive.html>

06.Conduct the shramadana work in their villages
Vilamkulam road preparation ,Kaplathurai farming area ,Muthunagaer E/H .Salli water logged area, Urumirai farming area, Valikakandi Hindu temple area,

Outcome of the activities
01. Secondary leadership is building up in each of the village.


02. They could get attention from the Government officers and political leaders .
At the beginning people did not work as a team. So they fought their issues alone. But now they fight as a team for their rights. So government officers and political leaders have to involve in people activities. In the same time leaders got chance to participate the DS office meetings where they express their concerns on development and resettlement.

03.Mannar,Trinco,Batti and Ampara villages could get some basic needs Such as
Drinking water project [Kannagipuram] ,Water tanks[Sangaman], ,Roads[Vilmkulam] ,Electricity fence for the Human elephant issue in Vlikakanadi, Small Animal husbandry projects for the Valikakandi. Tube well for the Karamaleuththi and Vilamkulam villages.

04.To get relief from the other unit in the NAFSO and civil organizations. <http://wodep.blogspot.com/2012_03_01_archive.html>
a. 25 WHFs in each district got the six month dry ration packet and food sovereignty training for the women

05. Home garden facilities from the Divinaguma project conducted by the government.
All the members got the one seed packet and one Kg of fertilizer for the home garden in Trincomalee district. In Ampara district 3 village members and Baticoloa district four village families got the chances.

06.After discussion with Ampara district political leader Mr.Piyasena Gamage they cloud get water project for the Kannagipuram and he promise them that he give attention for the housing project also .In the same time Sangamam people could get two drinking water tanks for the village .

07.After the Media briefing the chief minister if eastern rovince paid attention for the WHFs livelihood program. So he asked the details in each districts and Batticoloa details already hand over. He has come to meet Valikakandi people and promised to repair roads, facilities for the primary school and promised to discuss with other government department for getting livelihood project and housing project. <http://wodep.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html>

08.People repaired their roads giving free labour work in Sangamam and Valikakandi

09.Government start to prepare National budget for the 2013 .So after getting knowledge from the NAFSO team, they have given their suggestions for the budget and send to the President and District DS .

10. International community highlighting the issues Mullikulam ,Tunpalacholi and Valikakandi and other IDPs in SRILANKA and publicize the IDPs issues in local and international news papers and web sites.[ www.asianews.it/ www.nafso-online.org/ nafsoonline.blogspot.com/ http://www.colombopage.com/ www.lankaenews.com
News papers named Ravaya,Lankadeepaya,Udayam,Dinakaral Daly mirror.

Federation of Women headed families
We felt most of the WHF members lost their freedom, security, livelihood, and future hopes from last year activities. So as an outcome of the project in last year they proposed that they should get together to demonstrate that they are not isolated. So we had paid more attention of the issues and addressed them among them. We have given above trainings for the WHF members in every district except Killinochchi. As a result of the educations in Mannar and Trincomalee WHF members started to build the federation in DS level. DS of Trincomalee has given fully support for the federation. Field officer and team of Mannar discussed with DS and also got the positive answer from the DS. In other district field officers were also planned to meet DSs.
Missing Persons, Detainees and Political Prisoners- A critical issue faced by number of families in the north, particularly women in the north and the east is that of the missing of husbands, sons, and other family members. The Government has failed to provide these families any system of recourse to help them trace their family members. Especially Thumpalaichole in Baticoloa district, 12 women have handed over all documents but still government failed to give any positive answer. So they had attended media briefing and met political leaders. Still they are campaigning for find their husbands. Now the women feel that they are not alone because five villages getting together for their rights.
Net working Sri Lankan government shows a positive picture to the world that they have completed the resettlements of all IDP people with the accepted standards. But reality is different to the accepted norms and we are challenging the government reports with our networking process. For that we are attempting to build vast spread net work in human rights sector in SL. We had started getting together and as a result of that we have contributed to the UPR shadow report of SL. We added the IDP issues in UPR report which we submitted the report to Geneva. At the same time we collaborated with human rights organizations to protect, respect and fulfill IDP rights. People of North and East participated media conference which was organized by CSOs in South and highlights their issues.
The Anthropological Survey among Women Headed Families [ongoing]
There is a dialogue among NAFSO circles, specifically in the northern and eastern regional bodies on women headed families and fulfill their real needs. There is a criticism saying that some of the women who lost their bread winner in the family, those who essentially need the support for their survival do not receive adequate support while some women those who need not such support receive external support. As a result, the vulnerable women who need the support have been marginalized and continuing the pathetic situation. The partner organizations which support to conduct IDP and women program in N/E districts proposed to conduct an anthropological survey among women groups with whom the NAFSO carry out their work.
The aim of the anthropological survey is to identify the social fabric, the connections of this families, relationships in local and international of those communities in the N/E and specifically among the women groups who lost the bread winner of the family.
There were series of discussions held among the NAFSO activists and understood the real need of the survey. So, the dialogue was extended with the sociology lecturer in Jaffna University. NAFSO team members visited the home of the senior lecturer call Mr. Rajeshkanan. He agreed certain terms and the work which NAFSO expect to conduct among the women groups in N/E region. We discussed the work among the coordinators and the volunteers of NAFSO and agreed the plan to be carried out the survey too.
With our surprise, Mr. Rajeskanan stopped the communication with the NAFSO team and the field team of Jaffna as well. We are in a serious difficulty as we need to continue the work and no positive response from the lecturer to implement the planned activities among the women groups. Finally we decided to conduct the survey before the October getting technical support from an anthropologist from the south. The work has been carried out at the moment.

Resettlement standards
When we see the statistics of the resettlement people think that more than 90% IDPs have been resettled by now. [This is totally different story now as government says there is no more IDPs in the country any more.] But what is the reality of the IDPs? Are they completely resettled the people? At our field visits and discussions with the people they say that was not a resettlement but relocated. Mullikulam people lived at Thalvupadu, Mannar town and Valkaipettrankandal up to last month. But because of the advocacy and net working they could move to Marichchikattu in Musali division.[Whole story attach at the end of the report] government never discussed any thing about the old IDPs who lost their land and home in 1990. Those people are living in 56 IDP camps in Palali, in North / East of Jaffna district. We discussed all most all of our working villages on the IDP standards which we developed. We discussed these in our FG meetings and finally we came up with the suggestions as below;
The Standards of IDPs prepared by the affected People
 The freedom is paramount important to the IDPs.
 Basic facilities such as land, House, Water, Toilets, Education and Health facilities should be provided before they resettled by the government.
 There should be a proper plan for the livelihood development program.
 Government should provide dry rations to the resettled people till the people find a proper employment government.
 Need to provide space for collaborative actions with the people who are living in the area.
 Follow the International standard for the resettlement.
 Need to provide special living assistance and security to the women headed families.

During the coordinators and field officers meeting we could analyzed these Standards according to the UN Conventions and State bindings of Sri Lankan Government
Education on Human right Violations
 Displacement – ICESCR Part 1, Article 1
 Torture – UDHR Article 5
 Arbitrary Arrest – UDHR Article 9, 10,
 No Compensation / No Rehabilitation - ICESCR Part 1, Article 1
 No Freedom of Association – UDHR Article 20, ICERD Article 5, ICCPR Article 22
 No Freedom of Organization – ICESCR Article 8
 No Equality – UDHR Article 6
 Right to Life – UDHR Article 3, ICCPR Article 6
 Right to Food – UDHR Article 25, ICESCR Article 11, CEDAW Article 12, 14
 Right to Water – UDHR Article 25, ICESCR Article 1, 11, 12, CEDAW Article 14
 Right to Resources – UDHR Article 17
 Right to Health – UDHR Article 25, ICESCR Article 10, 12, CEDAW Article 11, 12, 14
 Right to Shelter / Land – UDHR Article 17,
 Right to Livelihood – ICESCR Article 3,5, 6, 7,9, 11, UDHR Article 2, 4, 17, CEDAW
Article 11, 13, 14
 Right to Information / Right to Free, Prior, Informed Consent – UDHR Article 19
State bindings of Sri Lankan Government
Freedom from Torture.
11. No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment.
Right to Equality.
12. (1) All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the
law.
(2) No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language,
caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any such grounds:
(3) No person shall, on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex or any one such
grounds, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to
access to shops, public restaurants, hotels, places of public entertainment and places of
public worship of his own religion.
14.Freedom of Speech, Assembly, Association, Movement, &c.
14-h) (h) the freedom of movement and of choosing his residence within Sri Lanka;
and
(i) the freedom to return to Sri Lanka.
(2) A person who, not being a citizen of any other country, has been permanently and
legally resident in Sri Lanka immediately prior to the commencement of the Constitution
and continues to be so resident shall be entitled, for a period of ten years from the
commencement of the Constitution, to the rights declared and recognized by paragraph
Restrictions on Fundamental Rights.
15. (1) The exercise and operation of the fundamental rights declared and recognized by
Articles 13 (5) and 13 (6) shall be subject only to such restrictions as may be prescribed
by law in the interests of national security. For the purposes of this paragraph “law”
includes regulations made under the law for the time being relating to public security.
Restrictions on Fundamental Rights.
(7) The exercise and operation of all the fundamental rights declared and recognized by
Articles 12, 13(1), 13(2) and 14 shall be subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed
by law in the interests of national security, public order and the protection of public
health or morality, or for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the
rights and freedoms of others, or of meeting the just requirements of the general welfare
of a democratic society. For the purposes of this paragraph " law " includes regulations
made under the law for the time being relating to public security.
Fundamental Rights.
(7) The exercise and operation of all the fundamental rights declared and recognized by
Articles 12, 13(1), 13(2) and 14 shall be subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed
by law in the interests of national security, public order and the protection of public
health or morality, or for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the
rights and freedoms of others, or of meeting the just requirements of the general welfare
of a democratic society.
Resettlement Authority Act 2007
Art 13 (b) facilitate the resettlement or relocation of the
internally displaced persons and refugees in order
to rehabilitate and assist them by facilitating their
entry into the development process.
Fundamental Rights.
(7) The exercise and operation of all the fundamental rights declared and recognized by
Articles 12, 13(1), 13(2) and 14 shall be subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed
by law in the interests of national security, public order and the protection of public
health or morality, or for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the
rights and freedoms of others, or of meeting the just requirements of the general welfare
of a democratic society. For the purposes of this paragraph " law " includes regulations
made under the law for the time being relating to public security.
Challenges
a. Conflict with certain groups
After the war people relocated their places or other places .Then political leaders enter the villages and they give some facilities only selected team due to this process separations started among the people .So they lost their unity.
b. Pressure and fear from the state specially form the political leaders, security forces and unknown teams.
c. Restriction on Accessibility
d. Natural or man-made disasters
f. Absence of relevant laws such as 13th amendment, devolution of power.
g. Lack of moral and financial support
Main focus for the next six month 01. Conduct campaign for the resettlement of Mullikulam people 02. Promotion of leadership and decision making capacities through motivation and human right which we already identify from the UN conventions, training for the FG Leaders. 03. To conduct the anthropological survey and implement livelihood project for the WHFs. 04. Strengthen the Network building – The community will be facilitated to build network with other communities in the country who are facing the same issues. They will also be connected to other actors who are working on promotion of rights of people. 05. Conduct, joint and participate the UPR report campaign which was prepared by CSO. 06. Demands IDP issues at Eastern province elections. [Discussions with candidates, awareness the public through hand out.] 07. Build up the new strategies for the Kilinochchi and Jaffna districts to motivate the people. To get support from the Religious leaders. Strategies
e. People-centred approach – community voice and issue will come up
f. Making informed Choices – People have the right to decide, deliberate and disagree
g. Sustainability of Actions – The actions taken will lead towards the overall objective
h. Representation of all sections – equal participation of women, children and other minorities will be the core of decision making and implementation
i. On-line campaigns - Will serve to a large audience
j. Signature Campaigns – Will enhance representation, participation and act as a pressure group
k. Networking with different actors and sections – Networking with national, regional or international actors

Case study – Resettlement of Sri Lankan IDPs The Mullikulam village is located at Musali divisional.secretariat division, in Mannar district in the northern province of Sri Lanka. The first settlers of Mullikulam village were lived since 1800 A.D. They are 100% Tamil by ethnicity and Catholics as their religious background. People were living with agriculture and fishing for their livelihood. Villagers have permanent deeds for agriculture lands mainly paddy fields up to 1200 acres of land within the village. They were rain fed by 5 tanks and water provided with major irrigation scheme with one tank in the village. Fishing was the other major occupation for most of the villages.
Mullikulam people were displaced in 1990 in first time in the history. They were displaced till 2002 the time of Memorandum Of Understanding, the peace agreement signed between Government Of Sri Lanka and LTTE. They were able to live in their village only 5 years and they became displaced again in 2007. When the final war began, military approached the people and said to vacate their homes immediately and without carrying anything. The promise was given to them that they will be returned home within 3 days and no need to bring anything belong to them. On the 7th September 2007, they vacated their houses with empty hands and have been living in many places around Mannar nearly 5 years now. There were more than 400 families living in Mullikulam when they were evicted. Most of them were living in Thalvupadu, Valkeipetrankandal, Thalaimannar, Nanattam, Madukkarai, and also at Mannar town for the displaced period. In Mullikulam area, there is a proposal to establish a naval base which needs 1000 hectares as Ravaya news paper, one national weekly reported. The 3 decades elongated brutal war caused serious damage to the lives and violated Mullikulam community's social, economic, cultural, environmental and political rights seriously. However, the demand of the people was to get back to their own houses in Mullikulam village.
They were attempted to get back to their own houses with the support of Bishop of Mannar, parish priest of Silavaturai and other priests of the diocese, many other officials including district secretary, divisional secretary, navy area commanders and NGOs Specially NAFSO involved with them. Due to the demand of the people, Bishop of Mannar together with other bishops approached the President and expected to find a solution. However, there was no positive response except the secretary to the defense ministry had agreed to visit the place and find a solution but there was no substantial response received by the community.
Millikulam people had attempted many ways to regain their land and homes back. They had approached all possible politician including the president, Resettlement minister, Ministerial officials, also approached all possible district government officials including district secretary of Mannar, divisional secretary of Musali, Navy commanders in the district, secretary of defense ministry, UNHCR, and church leaders. In August 2011, they organized a peaceful march in Mannar town, submit petitions to the authorities demanding their land back, called media conference, attended many of the meetings in the south to express their grievances and seek the assistance from the southern brothers and sisters concern. For these actions NAFSO supported and educated the people for organizing, networking, advocacy & lobby process. In fact NAFSO together with LST and few other local organizations have reported the case of Mullikulam people at the Universal Periodic Review [UPR], at Geneva last April. This will be taken up at the UPR sessions on Sri Lanka this October/ November. However, there was no positive response received from the authorities giving signal to resettle in their own village. When they got the leadership for their rights they were faced threaten from political sectors and government authorities but they never give up their target to resettle their own lands. In the mean time, these people were permitted to go to neighboring village. In a meeting the additional district secretary of Mannar expressed, "Mullikkulam people can go and resettle near Mullikkulam."
After long attempts, people are tired with all the burdens. They have made their minds to face the situation and had decided to go back to nearer village of Mullikulam which is Manangkadu and Periyakulam. However, so far they were not allowed to settle the place where they expected.
So they decided to settle at Marichchikattu with the aim of settle at Manangkadu village which is adjacent village of Mullikulam, since 15th June 2012.
Mullikulam people said they need to build their lives again after 22 years. So, now there are 212 families with 425 households come to the Marichchikattu jungle and stayed without any basic facilities. Sri Lanka Navy forces had put up two toilets and has provided one water tank which filled with drinking water on daily basis. So, these people request to help for building their livelihood again so they need fishing boats, nets, engines, lamps, water cans, mosquito nets, dry rations, kerosene and other basic materials for living etc.
NAFSO field officer work with these people to find out the basic needs. We have given dry rations for two weeks. In the same time we have done media actions to show the world for getting their facilities and pressure the government to give their basic facilities.
It is unbearable discrimination without any reason they were not allowed to return their original places. Government should think twice before they implement this type of decisions with the people who were badly affected by a brutal war. They should also be gained the dividends of peace in the country as proclaimed by the politicians and people always. So NAFSO has started lobbying to implement the LLRC recommendation too.
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