Questions for Human Rights Watch on Return of Land in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka Government slow to return land” says Human Rights Watch in an 80 page report titled Why can’t we go home”: Military occupation of land in Sri Lanka”. HRW refers to land owned only by Tamils & occupied only by the national army. This is a major faux pas on the part of a supposed to be unbiased rights organization.


Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of HRW says all those displaced during Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war are entitled to return to their homes”.


Ms. Ganguly you need to correct your statement. Was there a civil war in Sri Lanka? NO.

There were no two communities fighting with each other to warrant ‘civil’ if it was civil why designate LTTE as a terrorist? Or what place does the LTTE if it is a civil war? How can the armed forces defeat LTTE if it is a civil war?

HRW mentions ‘civil war’ 2

Who does Ms. Gangulay classify as displaced during this conflict? We would like her to make clear about this.

  • Tamils
  • Muslims
  • Sinhalese
  • Or LTTE?


Despite repeated pledged by the authorities, the military has been frustratingly slow to restore land to its rightful owners”.

How certain is the HRW that these are rightful owners? Do they have land deeds? Do they have proof that they lived there for a minimum of 10 years which is a requirement to claim any right? No report and no human rights organization can demand a state to give any land if there has been no proof of anyone owning the land & occupying it.

Have HRW posed this question to the US, UK & NATO forces forcibly occupying not only lands but entire countries in their illegal military interventions?


This 80 page report is based on 100 interviews – who are these people being interviewed. Are they Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims or only LTTE?


So HRW finds fault in 300,000 people ending up in ‘military detention camp’ but it seems quite alright with LTTE herding these people for months to use as hostages/human shields. HRW & Ms. Ganguly being a lady should be wondering how the females & female children survived for months being dragged by the LTTE to all corners without proper clothing, sanitary welfare or sanitary items etc… why has no one highlighted these aspects when LTTE were taking these females with them? In what context can the HRW claim these camps to be ‘detention camps’ when the then government opened even banks inside the camp for the Tamils to deposit their gold, when tuition classes & extra curricular activities were arranged… HRW should not chirp anything that is being parroted by people trying to discredit the government that carried out a military offensive while saving close to 300,000 people – name any western army that has achieved such?


Ms. Ganguly’s attention is directed to the interview by HRW’s own Anna Neistat a senior researcher


Anna Neistat confirms that LTTE were not allowing civilians to leave, HRW had ‘documented cases where LTTE shot at peace trying to leave the area” – were these handed to the OISL or the UN? Can Ms. Ganguly please respond? She also states that LTTE placed their positions in front of the camps of the displaced persons & hospitals” – were these facts given by HRW to the Ban Ki Moon panel or the OISL?


The HRW also refers to military involved in non-military activity can HRW deny that the US army doesn’t have agricultural development teams?

There are more than 330,000 civilian military employees (Army Civilian Service)


No land can be released simply because the President makes a proclamation to please the international community until it is proved that it has a civilian ownership.


Every government has the right to declare areas as national security & no one can question their right to do so. Does HRW question military deployments by US in any parts of the world & demand these be returned to the rightful owners? Does HRW question the placement of US, NATO or UK troops in the status of forces agreements? So why only Sri Lanka, is it because Sri Lanka has weak & meek leaders and anyone can bully them into appeasing?


HRW must realize that the initial decision to set up camps in the North & East were to quell illegal immigration & transportation of illegal items from Tamil Nadu & other areas of India. Today, because of the bullying to reduce camps & virtually putting the fear of the devil into our brave soldiers the Mannar area has become a paradise for illicit drugs & illicit items coming in from Kerala & Tamil Nadu – is this what those who want to remove naval & military deployment want. We are well aware that the Mannar / Puttalam areas where encroachments are taking place is strategically close to the Malwatu Oya basin the cradle of our civilization. To weaken our defences & allow any miscreants to enter the country? Wouldn’t that give the justification for countries to declare ‘terrorists’ have arrived & land to save our people just like these countries landed to liberate the Libyans, liberate the Iraqis & supposed to be liberating the Syrians and look at the bloody mess these countries are in.


Who is this Francis Crooss that the HRW is quoting. Who has prevented him from going back home? Firstly where is his home? And why can’t he go back? Well he may not be able to go back if he has been involved in LTTE as the people in some of th villages in the North & East are now taking out their anger on the LTTE for their suffering. Velvettiturai recently went to the streets to protest against Sivajilingam putting up a commemoration stone for a dead LTTEr so we can now see the Tamils are now becoming braver and feel no fear of the LTTE or their stooges any more.


Its interesting that HRW mentions 1990 – this is the very year that the Muslims & Sinhalese were chased out of the North by LTTE. Why has HRW not mentioned a single Muslim or Sinhalese by name. HRW is not paid to look into the interests of only the Tamils in this case it is not even Tamils but LTTE families. Every interview statement HRW makes is purposely directed to convey that GOSL has stolen the lands, the Army is not giving the lands & no mention is made about the LTTE forcibly chasing Muslims & Sinhalese & confiscating their lands.


So tell us HRW – thousands of Muslims & Sinhalese were chased out by the LTTE. What happened to their homes, their property & their lands? Who owns them? LTTE & their families? So are you going to help these Muslims & Sinhalese get back their lost lands, lost homes & lost properties?

Many of these Muslims & Sinhalese had been living in the North even before independence & they had sent their grievances with proof to the UNHRC for the OISL investigation. Where are their grievances – in the UNHRC OISL dustbin? Why have no recommendations for the return of these people being made?


It is interesting that HRW has documented cases of properties destroyed by the military ‘after the war’ and they claim to have included hindu temples, churches, mosques & even Buddhist shrines…have they done the same for all structures destroyed by LTTE? Has HRW documented the many Buddhist archaeological sites that are being bulldozed by TNA MPs in kilinochchi, mullaitivu & other areas of the North with even the Government being totally silent about it. Can HRW watch produce these cases & why have they not documented all of the renovations done by the army after the conflict on kovils, churches, mosques & Buddhist shrines?


HRW to be credible must take up credible cases with honesty. Yes, the government has to be pressurized into looking after displaced people, but this has to be genuine cases of displaced. Let HRW not neglect to acknowledge that the LTTE defacto rule of the north was severe upon not high caste Tamils but to low caste & poor Tamils. It was from these homes that they plucked children to turn into child soldiers, it was to their towns that the LTTE denied electricity & basic comforts, not even a radio was allowed to be used because the people would realize what the LTTE were doing elsewhere in the country. The LTTE had guns, their cadres were wicked, their families thought they were the cats whiskers & they bullied all other non-LTTE Tamils. Just imagine the scenario of how people would have suffered.


The HRW refers to partial release’ what exactly are they trying to convey – how certain is the HRW of Tamils not being displaced by LTTE for their military manoevres? How many Tamils would have been chased out or killed simply for LTTE to set up their camps – where is the documentation on this or does HRW not wish to tabulate these?


In the manner that the HRW has quoted the supposed to be Sinhalese displaced it is quite interesting that the blame is only pointed at the army so we can but raise an eyebrow as to who chose these ‘witness victims’ & the veracity of their allegations especially in the light of LTTE not being accused of confiscating lands & property that are today occupied by LTTE families.


Can we have success stories of HRW providing relief to Iraqi’s, Libyans, Syrians, Afghans, Haitians, Somalians and a whole list of other countries where US, UK & NATO troops as well as their sponsored armed ‘rebel’ groups who are trying to dislodge governments & place puppets in power where the people are displaced, their lands have been taken & they are living in ‘concentration camps’ or ‘detention centres’ – how much relief has HRW provided these with examples please





Shenali D Waduge


LTTE war crimes: Another witness – Anna Neistat of HRW


Living in Fear : Child soldiers & the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka –

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