Mannar Co-op council seeks building from SLA

[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 November 2002, 13:09 GMT]
The District Co-operative Council of Mannar has requested Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence to return a two-story building at the entrance to the northwestern town, occupied by the Sri Lankan armed forces from 1990, officials said. The building for long functioned as the SLA’s office for issuing permits to civilians for entering and staying in the Mannar Island. The building’s upper floor was used by the SLA for interrogating and detaining civilians arrested on suspicion and during cordon and search operations.

In a letter sent to the S. L MoD and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, the Mannar Co-operative Council said that it has sustained heavy losses because the SLA had neither paid rent nor compensation for keeping the building.

“We tried on several occasions to get back the building through the Mannar government agent but it ended in failure. However, the Ministry of Defence promised to pay the rent for the building for the period of occupation. But it did not settle the rent as promised”, the district secretary of secretary of the co-operative council said.

Until 1990, the council had rented the ground floor of the building to the Mannar branches of the Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank.

Hundreds of public and private buildings and properties are occupied by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the northeast. The Colombo promised to vacate these under a ceasefire agreement it signed with the Liberation Tigers in February this year.

But the Sri Lankan military continues to remain in most of them despite the ceasefire promise. Tamil rights activists say that the S. L military has no legal grounds now to occupy public and private property. The Sri Lankan armed forced were given wide powers under Emergency Regulations to seize and hold moveable and immoveable public and private property in the northeast and to hold them indefinitely.

The Draconian Emergency Regulations lapsed last year when the SLMC, then a main partner in President’s Chandrika Kumaratunga’s People’s Alliance government withdrew support and aligned with the United National Party.

 

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