SLMM seeks return of Pesalai market, library

[TamilNet, Saturday, 31 August 2002, 20:22 GMT]
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission officials in Mannar said Saturday they visited three places occupied by the Sri Lankan security forces in the region on complaints from the Church and a widow. The Sri Lanka Police occupies the public cemetery, market building and the public library in Pesalai, 14 kilometres west of Mannar town.

The officer in charge of the (OIC) Pesalai Police camp, Inspector U. K Nandasiri told SLMM officials who met him last Tuesday regarding the matter that his troops would partly vacate the cemetery but not the other buildings in question.

The Sri Lankan security forces have to vacate public buildings and premises according to a schedule and timetable for vacating them should have been drawn up 30 days after the Cease-fire Agreement between the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lankan government was signed.

The schedule has not been drawn up so far and the Sri Lankan security forces continue to occupy hundreds of public buildings in most villages and towns of the northeast which are within their line of control.

The Pesalai market building belongs to the St. Mary’s church in the town. The Police have occupied the cemetery, market and public library for more than eight years, residents said.

The Sri Lanka Navy occupies a large coconut plantation owned by the St. Anthony’s Church in Pesalai. The Navy takes all the produce of the plantation, church sources said. On a complaint by the parish priest of St. Anthony’s Church, SLMM officials who visited the town last Tuesday took up the matter with the officer in charge of the camp in the plantation, Lt. Herath.

The Navy officer told the SLMM that his troops would vacate the plantation only if he receives orders to do so from his superiors in Vavuniya.

Meanwhile, in Mannar town the SLMM also took up with the Police a complaint made by Mrs. Mariampillai Muththammah that her house on No. 8 Thaalvupaadu Road in Mannar town should be vacated. Mrs. Mariampillai in her complaint said that the Police evicted her from her home 12 years ago; that she has been living in a rented place since then; that the Police did not pay her rent for her home and that she is in dire need of her house as she is poor and finding it difficult to pay rents.

The woman in her compliant to the SLMM says that the Police should vacate her home forthwith and should pay her rent for the twelve years of occupation. The Police occupies four houses in her neighbourhood.

Hundreds of homes belonging to Tamil civilians were taken over by the Sri Lankan security forces under extensive powers they enjoyed under the Emergency Regulations.

Human tights lawyers say that the there is currently no legal basis for the Sri Lankan security forces to continue occupation of private homes, buildings and properties as the Emergency Regulations are no more in force.


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