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Displaced people protest for homes

Thousands of people still not able to return to their native villages after end of war

Displaced people protest for homes
Activists organized a silent protest march, reporter, Mannar
Sri Lanka

September 15, 2011

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Activists organised a silent protest march on September 13 in Mannar to urge the government to resettle Tamil Internally displaced people (IDPs). Some 1,500 people including Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar, priests, Tamil politicians and IDPs handed over a petition to the local government administrative head of public services, appealing to be allowed to return to their own village and have religious services in their own church. IDPs from the mainly Catholic Mullikkulam village in Mannar diocese in northern Sri Lanka were displaced from their village in 1990 and have not been resettled yet. The village has a history dating back some 300 years and around 450 families who lived there have always lived by fishing and agriculture. Before starting the silent march, Bishop Joseph blessed the activists and said: “We should try to get a solution through the silent protest march.” "We lost our houses, belongings and went to India. We left our village as refugees and got displaced from place to place and had been leading our life with many hardships for nearly thirteen years since 2003,” said Nisanthi Selvaratnam, 45, holding a poster during the march. “Let us live peacefully!" A US assistant secretary of state visiting Sri Lanka said yesterday in a pressstatement: “Most of the IDPs have left and the rest will leave as soon as demining is complete. A very important part of reconciliation and returning people's lives to normal in the North is an improvement in human rights.” But Robert Blake added: “A great deal still needs to be done to heal the wounds of war and ensure a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Sri Lanka.” According to the ministry of resettlement, 263,237 IDPs have been resettled so far and 7,740 remain in the camps.

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