The Sri Lankan military said today it has returned 54 acres of land to nearly 190 families from the minority Tamil community and ended its control over a major fishing harbour it had occupied in 1990 in the former war zone of Jaffna. The release came as a positive response from the military to the long-standing demands of the Tamil people and supports the pledge of President Maithripala Sirisena, who vowed during his election campaign to work towards achieving reconciliation with the minorities. In April, the Sri Lankan Army took a similar initiative and had released 35 acres of land to their original owners in Urani town in Northern Province, including a fishing harbour.
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Today, the Army said in a statement that 187 families, who reside as Internally Displaced Persons since June 1990, will now be able to return to their lands and resume their fishing livelihood after nearly 30 years. The land and the Mayliddy fishing harbour are located close to the Lankan military’s airforce base at Palaly and the naval port of Kankesanthurai. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ran a nearly three- decade separatist campaign leading to a bloody war with the Sri Lankan security forces.
As the civil war erupted in June 1990, many Tamils living near the military installations were driven out and their land was not occupied by the security forces. According to the UN figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by the security forces during former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime that brought an end to the brutal conflict with the defeat of the LTTE in 2009.