Army will not occupy civilians' property
Sept 19, 2012

Clarifying doubts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) officials on the Army’s occupation of civilians’ property, Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe said the Army had already handed back the majority of them and owners of other houses are paid rental until they are released in future.

“As speculated and exaggerated by some interested parties, we have no plan of acquiring civilians’ lands to establish military camps in Jaffna,” he said speaking to the delegation from the OHCHR who were visiting the Jaffna peninsula.

He said the Army had already earmarked government lands for that purpose. However, government would acquire some lands necessitated for the expansion of the Palaly Airport and the Kankesanthurai (KKS) Harbour after paying compensation to the legitimate owners”, it was further revealed.

“Government was compelled to recruit members to the Army in large numbers to fight the terrorists who attempted to capture nearly one third of the country encompassing more than two thirds of the coastal belt. Since the war was over, the government could not send home those soldiers who dedicatedly fought terrorism, and they had to be housed within the country. Jaffna is one part of Sri Lanka,” he noted.“However, the number of troops present in Jaffna is lesser in comparison to some districts in the island. Nevertheless, some parties and the media are trying to exaggerate this number, for political reasons,” he added. Hanny Megally, Chief Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa Branch of OHCHR and a few more officials in his company were received by the SF-J Commander and gave them a brief account on the profile of Jaffna, history of the separatist conflict and devastation caused by the LTTE to lives and property.

Major General Hathurusinghe said the Army had launched a number of community welfare programmes soon after the country was liberated and livelihood activities for ex-LTTE combatants, housing projects for destitute families, scholarships for students from low-income families are a few among them.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka