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Displaced Lankan Tamils' woes continue, UN officials told

September 21, 2012 20:55 IST

Leaders of Sri Lanka's main Tamil party TNA on Friday told officials from the United Nations human rights body that the Tamils displaced in the LTTE war were facing problems with resettlement and discrimination at the hands of authorities.

TNA leaders met Hanny Megally, the Chief, Asia, Pacific, Middle East and North Africa Branch, of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other members of his team on Friday.

The TNA said in a statement that they took up with the visiting team concerns over disappearances, detenues, and accountability and evolution of an acceptable political solution.

They also raised concerns over alleged changes in the demographic composition in the North and the East.

"Amongst the matters discussed were land issues relating to security zones where the displaced people have not been able to resettle, their lands being taken over for military purposes, lands being taken over ostensibly for development purposes and on which, persons of the majority community are being settled, cultural and religious places being denied to the Tamil people," the statement said.

The UN human rights technical experts' team visit comes as a follow up to the resolution adopted in the March sessions of the UN Human Rights Council.

The US-sponsored resolution was adopted with India's backing.

Meanwhile, the OHCHR team had also visited Jaffna to meet the military.

On the question of scaling down the military presence in the north which is a main point of contention in the UNHRC resolution, the OHCHR team was told that the number of troops present in Jaffna is lesser compared to some districts elsewhere.

The Jaffna Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe said: "We fought against terrorists and not against Tamils".

"Sinhalese and Tamils here lived as brothers for generations. Unfortunately, some egoistic Tamil elite lured Tamil youths to embark on searching for a separate land for Tamils," he said.

Hathurusinghe claimed that Army has already handed back majority of civilian properties occupied for military purposes.

The OHCHR visit comes ahead of the October's Universal Periodical Review at the UNHRC which will further scrutinise Sri Lanka's rights record.  

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