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“Army Will Not Occupy or Acquire Civilians’ Property”-Jaffna Commander Tells OHCHR Officials

[2012-09-18 12:13:45]

“Government was compelled to recruit members to the Army in large numbers to fight terrorists who attempted to capture nearly one third of the country encompassing more than two thirds of the coastal belt. For the reason that war is over, government cannot send those soldiers, who dedicatedly fought the terrorism, home and they have to be housed within the country. Jaffna is one part of Sri Lanka. However, number of troops present in Jaffna is lesser comparing to some districts in the island. Nevertheless, some parties and media for political reasons are trying to exaggerate this number”, Commander Security Forces Jaffna (SF-J) Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe revealed these facts during his meeting with the OHCHR (Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights) officials on visit to Jaffna on Monday (17).

“Government was compelled to recruit members to the Army in large numbers to fight terrorists who attempted to capture nearly one third of the country encompassing more than two thirds of the coastal belt. For the reason that war is over, government cannot send those soldiers, who dedicatedly fought the terrorism, home and they have to be housed within the country. Jaffna is one part of Sri Lanka. However, number of troops present in Jaffna is lesser comparing to some districts in the island. Nevertheless, some parties and media for political reasons are trying to exaggerate this number”, Commander Security Forces Jaffna (SF-J) Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe revealed these facts during his meeting with the OHCHR (Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights) officials on visit to Jaffna on Monday (17).

Mr. 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 the lives and property.

“We fought against terrorists and not against Tamils. We saw the agony that people in Jaffna underwent due to war. With the successful end of terrorism in Sri Lanka, we have identified their basic needs and Army has launched a number of community welfare programmes soon after the country was liberated. Livelihood activities for Ex-LTTE combatants, housing project for destitute families, scholarships for students from low-income families are a few among them. Now the entire peninsula is functioning under the civil administration and it has taken root well”, Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe told the OHCHR officials.

“Sinhalese and Tamils here lived as brothers for generations. Unfortunately, some egoistic Tamil elite lured Tamil youths to embark on searching for a separate land for Tamils. This was not the need of the Tamil majority but they had no option other than surrendering to the threat of LTTE”, he further added.

Clarifying doubt of the OHCHR officials on Army’s occupation in civilians’ property, Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe said that Army has already handed back majority of them and owners of other houses are paid rental until they are released in future.
“As speculated and exaggerated by some different interested parties, we have no plan of acquiring civilians’ lands to establish military camps in Jaffna. Army has already earmarked government lands for that purpose. However, government will acquire some lands necessitated for the expansion of the Palaly airport and the Kankesanthurai harbour after paying compensation to legitimate owners”, it was further revealed.

Mr. Hanny Megally appreciating the Army’s role in post war Jaffna thanked the SF-J Commander for educating them with a comprehensive presentation on the present situation in Jaffna. He also thanked the Army for their commitment in augmenting the role of the government in achieving sustainable peace.

They also met the Bishop Jaffna Most Rev. Fr. Dr. Thomas Saundaranayagam and the Government Agent Jaffna Mr. S. Arumainayagam during their stay in Jaffna.


 
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