Petition to be handed over to President on Panama land

The Peoples’ Alliance for Right to Land (PARL), in continuation of a global campaign #LandRightsNow launched in calling for the release of Paanama lands back to its people, is to hand over a petition of over 20,000 local and international signatures to the Presidential Secretariat office tomorrow.

In 2010, 350 families of farmers and fisher folk living in Paanama, a coastal village in the east of Sri Lanka, were forcibly and violently evicted from lands they had cultivated and lived on for over forty years. These lands were taken over by the military to establish camps, and they are now being used to promote tourism.

PARL called on the Government of Sri Lanka to immediately act on the decision to release these lands back to the community who depend on them for their livelihoods and food.

Undeterred by threats, intimidation and legal action taken against them, the people of Paanama have worked together in unison in the struggle to win their lands back. Despite these dangers, the community refuses to give up. In 2015, the Government finally agreed to return the land, recognising the community’s rights. But the Government has yet to keep its promise. The community is still waiting for their land and their home back.

A gathering of Paanama community members, civil society representatives, journalists and activists will convene outside the Presidential Secretariat office tomorrow (June 14th) to hand over the aforementioned petition in demand of justice, calling for the release of Paanama lands.

#LandRightsNow – The global call to action on indigenous and community land rights was launched as a joint effort of Oxfam International, International Land Coalition (ILC) and Rights and Resources Institute (RRI) in March 2016. This global effort supported a series of public campaigning spikes in 3 selected countries: Sri Lanka, Peru and Australia. The campaign in Sri Lanka was spearheaded by PARL and Oxfam in Sri Lanka.

The Peoples’ Alliance for Right to Land (PARL) is a voluntary coalition of civil society organizations and individuals, working together against land grabbing and for housing, land and property rights of poor and marginalized communities since 2011.