Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka


( Created date: 11-Dec-2003 )

Using funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), the Muslim Rights Organization has documented lands in the Eastern Province that were reportedly appropriated by force during the recent armed conflict.

Today, U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead and M. I. M. Mohideen, Chairman of the Muslim Rights Organization, attended a ceremony marking the completion of the project.

The idea for a Muslim land registry in the Eastern Province began in April 2002, at a meeting between a Muslim Member of Parliament and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). At this meeting, the LTTE promised to return property appropriated from Muslims if confiscation was adequately documented.

The Muslim Rights Organization, a Colombo-based NGO, employed more than 40 enumerators and support staff to work on this USAID-funded project. Together they collated information on 14,872 separate cases of appropriation involving more than 62,000 acres of land in Ampara, Batticaloa, and Trincomalee Districts.

During the ceremony, Ambassador Lunstead noted that "building peace in Sri Lanka is like putting together a mosaic picture, a picture of many tiles. One of the tiles is the relationship between Muslims and Tamils in eastern Sri Lanka. We are taking this tile and adding it to the picture. One day all of the tiles will be in the picture and the picture will be called 'peace.'" The Ambassador concluded by hoping that "this successful use of non-violent remedies for long standing problems in Amparai and Batticaloa would be replicated in other parts of the north and the east such as Trincomalee where there are similar problems."

Established in the USAID mission in Colombo earlier this year, OTI's overall goal is to support the peace process in Sri Lanka by funding initiatives to increase citizen support for a negotiated settlement and to assist targeted vulnerable communities. Through its flexible and fast small-grants program, USAID/OTI has dispersed $2.2 million in grants since March 2003.





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