Sri Lankan Tamils Protest In Jaffna As President Ranil Visits District, Police Use Water Cannons – ABP Live
Chennai: In the first mass protest against Ranil Wickremesinghe in Jaffna after he became the president, Sri Lankan Tamils took to the streets Sunday during the former’s visit to the district. The protesters were demanding justice for the families of Tamils who disappeared during the time of civil war, and also wanted the Sri Lankan Army to release their “occupied land” in the Northern Province.
The administration had erected barricades in Nallur locality to divert the protesters but as the latter continued with their demonstration and tried to breach the barricades, water cannons were used on them to disperse the crowd.
The Tamil-dominated region saw nearly 500 protesters representing the affected families from the Northern Province and civil rights groups participate in the protest to condemn President Ranil Wickremesinghe for not taking any action on their demands.
The president was visiting the region Sunday to take part in Pongal celebrations in Nallur.
As police used water cannons to disperse the protesters, there was a commotion but no lathi-charge was reported. One policeman is learnt to have sustained minor injuries, as per police records.
According to a report in Tamil Guardian, the protesters could be seen throwing water mixed with cow dung at the forces, while some shampooed their hair using the water sprayed on them from the cannons.Tamils In Sri Lanka And Their Protests
Mainly concentrated in the northern and eastern provinces of the country, Tamils are the largest ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, and they account for nearly 12 percent of the nearly 22 million population. The community had suffered for decades due to a civil war that lasted until 2009, claiming thousands of lives.
While the Tamil separatist militant group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was defeated, nearly 1 lakh people, mostly Tamils, allegedly abducted by the Sri Lankan armed forces remain untraced. Their families have been ever since demanding justice.
However, while the Tamils have been struggling to recover, the northern and eastern provinces rarely saw large-scale protests, not even during last year when the entire Sri Lanka was out on the streets as the country battled an unprecedented economic crisis, forcing then President Gotabaya to flee.
This was because “protesting is a luxury many Sri Lankan Tamils do not enjoy, and scarcities induced by the economic crisis are also not new to them”, a political analyst in Jaffna was quoted as saying in a DW report published in July 2022.
Sri Lankan Tamils have also been lodging their protest against the alleged “land grabbing” in the Tamil-majority Northern Province under the guise of “environment conservation”, claiming the government was trying to dispossess the Tamil families who had owned the land in question for generations.
It was reported in February 2022 how 12 Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislators had lined up outside the Secretariat holding placards that read: "Stop the land grabbing of Tamilians under the guise of forest conservation."
The Northern Province saw a 100-day protest calling for a “dignified political solution” ending last month. "We want our land, our right to freedom of movement, our right to freedom of speech," a protester was quoted as saying in a news report.