SRI LANKA: 168 families evicted from their land and deprived of livelihood 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-04-2003
ISSUES: Poverty & adequate standard of living,

SRI LANKA: Denial of land right; Loss of land and deprivation of livelihood


The 168 families of Oliyamulla in the Wattala Electorate, closer to the Negombo Road in Sri Lanka, were asked to leave from the land they had lived for three years. The land belongs to the Urban Council Wattle. It is now ear marked for a playground by a business magnate. Earlier, the local member of Parliament of the previous People’s Alliance had given the land. The administration had allowed the people to build houses. Then the administration had not given any legal documents regarding the occupation of the land. After the change over of the government on Dec. 5, 2001, these unfortunate people were requested to leave the premises. But after a few threats in June 2002, the Urban Development Authority (UDA), the police and the Urban Council officials came with bulldozers and demolished all the houses in that property. This made it impossible for the people to continue to live in the land. Some of the residents were injured by the police action and one woman’s arm was broken.

The people made complaints to the respective authorities, including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Therefore, NHRC made an order to stop all demolition and removal of people and to put back the residents in possession till the matter is fully inquired into. This order was communicated to the officer in charge of the Wattala police station, who refused to comply with NHRC’s order, stating boastfully that \”I have orders from above, which the people understood to mean, from a powerful local politician who is also a minister in the government.\”

The displaced with the help of a lawyer filed a Fundamental Rights Application (FRA) in the Supreme Court, complaining of violation of rights. They made several parties including the police as respondents. The people were supported by the Peace Council, consisting of several religious leaders from among the Buddhist and Christian groups. Thanks to their support, the displaced people stayed on two Buddhist temples in the vicinity and some of them moved into Nayakakanda church premises.

The problem of these displaced people were highlighted in printed and electronic media. Then, the government officials intervened and offered various lands from the government for settlement. However, the original land was taboo for them so the people lost their land and deprived of livelihood. Many of the people do live with their kith and kin and some shifted to Kerawalapitya marshy land. They are now living in temporary sheds.

When the matter of alternative land was discussed, a new condition was imposed before any alternative place is to be given. The condition is to withdraw all the complaints made by the people by way of FRA. However, the people have refused to accept this condition. Therefore, the people are now deprived of any settlement or alternative lands till FRAs are withdrawn.

The people believe that a powerful politician, who is a minister in the present government, is behind the move to eject them as well as the present settlement. The politician who the people believe is very close to the police who is trying to help the alleged culprits, by pressurising the people to withdraw cases they have filed seeking redress for human rights violation.


Please write your letter to the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Sri Lanka, urging them to take intervention in this matter.



To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER



Re: Forced ejection; the situation of the displaced people of Oliyamulla in the Wattala Electorate, closer to the Negombo Road.

168 families forcibly ejected from the land where they lived for several years, complain of having no place to stay. The land they resided was allocated to them by the previous government. Although the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has made order to stop the removal of people pending further inquiries, this order has been ignored by the officer in charge of Waltala police station, stating that \"I have other orders from above.\" Therefore, the people have complained that pressure is brought on them by a powerful politician in the area to abandon the cases they have filed in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, many people including women and children are suffering, with no place to stay, as their houses were bulldozed and destroyed. They are now living in temporary sheds.

Therefore, I express my extreme concern and urge you to take intervention to bring this issue to a humane conclusion.

I look forward to hear of your quick intervention in the matter.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,



1. Honorable Prime Minister

Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe

Cambridge Place

Colombo 7


Fax: +94 1 682905

Email: or

SALUTATION: Hon. Prime Minister

2. Minister of Interior

Mr. John Amaratunga

P.O. Box 572, No. 15/5,

Baladaksha, Mawatha,

Colombo 3,


Fax: +941 389021


Also send the copy of you letter to;

The Secretary of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Mr. C. Kurunakaran

No. 50, Dr. N. m.

Perera Mawatha, Borella,

Colombo 8,


Fax: +941 694 924


Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-04-2003
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Poverty & adequate standard of living,