From Ruki Fernando of Our Member INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka – Story: Iranaitheevu: a community reclaims their island home from the Navy
2 May 2018 11:56 am

Ruki Fernando of our member INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre recently followed a community from the Iranaitheevu twin islands in Sri Lanka which was trying to reclaim their island home from the Navy. He recounts his journey:

On the morning of April 23, 2018, about 300 people from the Iranaitheevu twin islands decided to sail there in about 40 boats. They have been displaced since 1992, and the Navy has occupied the island, barring the local people from staying or even visiting their traditional land, on which had hinged their livelihood. The islands also had important institutions like a school, churches, cooperative, weaving centre, hospital and village council.

These people hoped that they could return to their island after the end of the war in 2009, and the election of a new government in 2015. Yet, they were still not allowed to return, despite a series of meetings and correspondence with Ministers, politicians and government officials from 2016 to 2017. In desperation, they resorted to a continuous protest for almost a year (359 days as of April 23). Even that didn’t bring them home.

On the morning of April 23, they planned something different. Something daring that most Sri Lankans wouldn’t try. I was scared of this too.

For more on this story, click here.