Sirisena defends return of land to Sri Lankan Tamils

Amid continuing criticism of Sri Lanka’s approach to the implementation of the 2015 Geneva resolution, President Maithirpala Sirisena has defended his government’s policy of returning land in the Northern Province to Tamils.

Speaking to the Sri Lankan diaspora in Japan, Mr. Sirisena pointed out that they had been longing for the return of their lands for 27 years.

‘Distrust persists’

He also said that distrust persisted between people of the northern Sri Lanka and those in the south and that cement and bricks alone could not achieve reconciliation. Alluding to the policies of his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mr. Sirisena said that the country had failed to carry out tasks that ought to have completed after the civil war. That was the reason the reason it was now being asked to provide answers to international community.

(According to Centre for Policy Alternatives, a Colombo-based NGO, about 12,750 acres of land in the Northern Province are still with the security forces.)

In the meantime, the government, which ratified last week the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, extended the date for submission of proposals on measures to seek truth and justice, ensure accountability and offer redress to June 24.

Even as the government is bracing itself for the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council’s 32nd session (June 13-July 1) in Geneva where an oral update on Sri Lanka will be presented, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the top brass of the security forces recently that the proposed judicial mechanism would have only domestic judges and the involvement of foreign jurists would only be for technical assistance.