Last July, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said Sri Lanka was planning to demilitarise by 2018. The cautious optimism that followed this news died away when the military contradicted Samaraweera’s speech, with Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Mahesh Senanayake saying they would not return “even an inch of land” to civilians. In September, State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene in response to the Eluga Tamil movement said they would not move Army camps in the Northern province.
The human cost of these decisions have not often been discussed, or written about in mainstream media. However, land issues have recently come into focus, when groups of families began to protest across the North and East, demanding for the right to return to their land.
Groundviews visited several of these areas in April, where these protests are still ongoing, in order to more fully understand their struggles.
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