Displaced people of Sampur told the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission that the Sri Lankan Navy’s ‘Vidura’ camp should be removed so that they can be resettled in their own lands.
A team from the commission led by Ambika Satkunananthan visited Trincomalee on the 15th and 16th June, holding discussions with civil society and political representatives and visiting the occupied lands in Sampur.
According to the villagers, having displaced the people of Neenakeni in 2006, the Navy built a camp on 176 acres of civilian land. Having stated that the owners of those lands would be given alternate land, the Navy also seized the lands of 83 families in Sakkaravaddavan, Vengayachenai, Neenakeni, Emavaddavan – totalling around 340 acres including cultivation land – and a further 1000 acres of coastline used by Sampur fisherfolk, to build the Vidura camp.
With the Navy having enclosed the traditional anchorage and shoreline areas – Neimalai, Maththalamalai, Thonikkal and Mottamalai – the fishermen are forced to travel an extra 3km to go out to sea, having also no space to form any rest areas.
With the coast being closed to vehicles, they also struggle to transport their goods.
The villagers also told the commission that due to three water tanks falling within the occupied cultivation lands, they struggle to farm.
Lands granted to locals to cultivate onions under former president Srimavo Bandaranaike’s self-employment scheme have also been appropriated by the Navy, the villagers said.