Ex-Land Commissioner observes systematic ethnic discrimination in issuing land documents in East

[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 December 2018, 22:42 GMT]
The SL Government in Colombo has been issuing circulars instructing the provincial land authorities to release land documents to displaced and uprooted war-affected people. Such circulars were attempting to document ‘adherence’ to the recommendations of the so-called ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’. These circulars were also intended to convince the UN Human Rights Council and the international community that the SL State was implementing reconciliatory measures without discrimination. However, the Tamil people in the Eastern Province have been systematically and ethnically discriminated in the delivery of land documents even after the issuance of specific circulars, former Land Commissioner of Eastern Province Kathirgamathamby Kurunathan told TamilNet this week.

There is a systematic pattern that the applications from the Tamil people are being put on hold across all the three districts in the Eastern Province, Mr Kurunathan, who was also the last Deputy Land Commissioner of the merged North-Eastern Province, said.

The applications from the Sinhala settlers are immediately processed and supplied, but not that of Tamils, he said.

Tamil civil officials at the District Secretariat in Trincomalee told TamilNet that the resettled Tamils in Champoor in the division of Moothoor East had not received land documents even after the Divisional Secretariat had completed all the necessary formalities long time ago.

The Divisional Secretariat in Moothoor was instructed not to issue any such documents to resettled Tamils by the Provincial Land Commissioner, D.D. Anura Dharmadhasa, a Sinhala official, the Tamil officials who didn't want to be named, further said.

Mr Dharmadhasa has already come under fire from Tamil-speaking activists in the Eastern Province for his open support to extremist Sinhala Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force).

Former Land Commissioner Kurunathan told TamilNet that it was not only the resettled Tamils in Champoor, but the discrimination is also systematic and widespread across the three districts.

In the case of Champoor Tamils, there is a Gazette notification, which has not yet been revoked. However, with regards to other Tamils, there are no such legal issues, Mr Kurunathan pointed out.

The provincial Land Commissioner is the head of the Department of Land Administration.

Except for ‘interprovincial schemes’ such as the Mahaweli project, the alienation, administration and management of the lands fall under the provincial system.

However, the unitary state mechanism in Colombo is controlling the provincial land office in Trincomalee. This control seems to have increased since the de-merger of North-East.

The Land office in Trincomalee office was established on 01 January 2007.

The SL Governor to the Eastern Province is answerable to the systematic discrimination, especially at the absence of an elected provincial council, he said.

The Eastern Provincial Land Commissioner is violating the section 17 of the SL Constitution as he systematically ignores to respond to the written requests from the Divisional Secretaries on land issues related to Tamils, Mr Kurunathan, who is well versed in the land affairs, told TamilNet.

He urged the Tamil politicians and organisations to take note of the systematic discrimination, document the violations and report these to all concerned levels within the island as well as to the international treaty bodies.

There is a parliamentary consent provided in June 2001 to the UN policy on land issues, which is also being violated, Mr Kurunathan said.


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