Wanniyala-Aetto fined for trespassing on their land
Two Wanniyala-Aetto men have been fined for ‘trespassing’ on their own land in an attempt to return to their hunting grounds.
The Wanniyala-Aetto people, also known as 'Veddah', were moved from their last forest refuge in 1983 when the Sri Lankan government designated it as the Maduru Oya National Park. Recently, the Sri Lankan army has used the park for training.
T.W. Punchi Banda and T.W Muttu Banda were arrested along with eight others earlier this year. They were part of a group of 19 Wanniyala-Aetto who had returned to the forest from which they were evicted more than 20 years ago. The group, from government rehabilitation village Hennanigala, had returned to their former village, Kandeganville, in what is now the national park. The remainder of the group fled the forest when park guards came to arrest them.
When the park was created, the Wanniyala-Aetto were barred from the forest and banned from hunting and gathering. Crowded together on small plots of land outside the park, many find it difficult to feed their families.
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