People toppled the previous government; among accusations land grabbing was a major one. MR government grabbed thousands of hectares of lands around the country for tourism sector development, most of the time using military power.
The government also grabbed Panama lands in a violent way in 2010. They burned down the houses of the farmers in a night making them homeless and put the security fences with military and barbwires.
Panama People who lost their lands and properties are fighting for their lands for almost 6 years now. First they put the pressure through changing the local government in Panama, and carried the advocacy and lobby activities together with civil societies around the country. But the central government did not listen to the people. Finally in the beginning of new year majority people of the country were work against the MR government. Changed the leadership of the country expecting a new era which the government rule the country according to the laws and regulations provided by the constitution while changing laws that are harmful to the peoples’ power.
After presidential election in January, a order have been released by the presidential secretariat in February 2015, to release the lands of the panama people except 25 acres which are used for constructions by the previous government.
Until now, Local authorities do not have act to release the lands.as the power on lands hold by the District Secretary office, people accusing the local authorizes are also behind the land grabbing and they have conduct some illegal businesses regarding the grabbed lands and now they don’t want to work to resolve the issues as their jobs on risk.
Arugambay beach, which is main tourism attraction in Eastern province, is in vicinity of those lands of the panama. And already have started tourism activities with hotel facilities with the management and security of the military.
In July, Panama Land grabbing victims tried to enter their lands forcefully since cabinet have approved to release those lands according to the central government information. Using police force, authorities stopped the people on their way to the lands and promised to process the issues regarding these lands and release as soon as possible.
But still military not removed from the lands, business goes as usual. Within time these lands will also could sold to some foreigners by this government as new land laws have been introduced. New government with their 2016 budget has proposed to any foreign personal can buy and own the lands in the country. Previously it was only they can do was lease it for 99years.
Victims of Panama Land grabbing has planned again to visit near by temple and then go to settle down in their lands on 28th of November after informing Police and all relevant authorities, but the police have taken a court order to prevent the action.
According to the people, Police have misguided the judge and have taken a prevention order. “We did not planned any protest in the road or any where, just waned to go to our own lands after visiting our temple. But court has ordered to stop protest as it can harm to peace and costs lives since police have informed court that the protesters are going to enter military camps forcefully. So, the people does not carried their planned work but conducted a meeting in Panama Bodirukkarama temple to discuss new trends in political arena and to plan next step.
Mean while District secretary have called a meeting on 30th November on the Land grabbing issues with the Head of the village temple.
They all doing a political game nothing have changed regarding our issue saying victims.
|Reading the Letter by DS and Court Order By P. Somasiri, Leader of the Struggle|
|A Discussion Among Participated Women Leaders|