A Prohibited Wish for the Prohibited Land

Kappapulavu situates in Mullaitivu district, belonging to the administrative division of the Maritimepattu DS Division. There are nearly 300 families has been living in Kappapulavu for more than 70 years, and most of them are holding titled deeds. The Kappapulavu people depend on farming and fishing as the main source of income from generation to generation.

On the Christmas 2008, the military attacked Kappapulavu and all the residents were sent to the Manik Farm IDP Camp from their traditional lands. After one-and-a-half years of displacement, they returned to Keppapulavu and realized that the 59 Brigade and the Air Force Camp have been constructed on their lands. They were not allowed to access the lands and therefore many people have been living with relatives or rented places since then.

The military told the Keppapulavu people that the lands will be released gradually and they can stay nearby where 20 perches are provided to each family. While people were living in temporary shelters, there was no progress of releasing the occupied lands, but only the increasing efforts by the military to construct new camps in the nearby village, Suripuram. Keppapulavu people were tired off the suffering in temporary shelters during raining season and decided to pressure on the military.

The military finally provided permanent houses for the Keppapulavu people in 2014, but it was not a solution for people who live off agriculture and depend on lands for survival. Military and public administration officers have continually assured the Keppapulavu people that the lands will be released in the past 7 years; however, what people have observed is that the military activities on their lands have been not only for national security but also for farming and other commercial purposes. As an old woman told: ‘Now I have to buy coconuts which grew on my own lands from the military!’

The attention to the Keppapulavu is never lacking, and civil society organizations and political parties always want to engage in this issue. But unfortunately, the heavy military presence and active intelligence’s interventions challenged these attempts. Government officials are not willing to closely work with Keppapulavu people due to the fear on the military, and still, people will be interrogated if they gather.

It was strongly denied that militarization has ever happened in the Northern Province. Well, what will be the first word comes to your mind if you are living in Keppapulavu and read the board, ‘Another humanitarian project of Sri Lanka Army’, on the Brigadier Samarasinghe Road?

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