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Last updated: 20 February, 2012 - Published 13:48 GMT
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Women protest 'land grab' by military
Women groups have protested the allocation of land along Tharavanlottai road, in Mannar
'Past experience in other areas demonstrate that women will be unable to move about after nightfall'

Women activists in northern Sri Lanka have strongly protested a move by the military to construct a new army camp in Eluthoor, Mannar.

The protests by Women Rural Development Societies from nine villages comes after a recent discussion during which concerns were raised over the allocation of land along Tharavanlottai road.

The army camp is to be constructed adjacent to a tank constructed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for the resettled families from the surrounding villages, especially for washing and bathing.


In a petition to Sri Lanka government and local parliamentarians, the activists have appealed not to construct the camp in the allocated land and move it to any other part of Mannar.

 Women and girls will feel insecure due to proximity of army camp. Likewise schoolgirls going for tuition before dawn will also find it cumbersome
Petition by Women Rural Development Societies

"Most families in these villages are war – affected and living below the poverty line. In many instances the bread winners of the family are women," said the petition signed by over 500 members of the WRDS.

These women, say activists, face many issues related to their security and living conditions.

"When an acute shortage of land for building dwellings is prevalent in this area the decision to allocate land for an army camp is unjust and unfair. Priority should be given to landless people in the vicinity," said the petition adding that the people in the area will be deprived of using the tank if a military camp is constructed nearby.

Obstruct of water flow in the low-lying land areas, women using the shrubs nearby as toilets due to lack of toilets in the villages and the threat to security as well as the privacy of women as a result of the proposed army camp are other reasons cited by the women’s group for their objection.

Copies of the petition, signed by over 500 members of the WRDS, have been sent to the government agents, TNA parliamentarians, justice minister as well as the Human Rights Commission, Land Commissioner and the Governor of North.

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