Thousands of people from predominantly Tamil regions of Sri Lanka peaked in Jaffna on Sunday, ending a five-day rally to assert the rights of Tamil and Muslim minorities.
The rally, which started in Pothuvil in eastern Ampara district last week, covered several towns en route in eastern province and Vanni, before reaching Polikandy in Jaffna district.
Many civil society organizations gathered, while prominent lawmakers and members of various Tamil and Muslim political parties joined in the procession, chanting slogans against the government’s “crackdown” on Sri Lankan minorities.
For the past five days, police have sought to prevent the gatherings, local media reported, citing the COVID-19 regulations. However, masked participants continued, pointing to other government-marked events that had taken place, media reported.
“The reason for this protest march is to draw attention to the rights of the Tamil speaking people which have been denied in this country,” said Jaffna lawmaker MA Sumanthiran. AFP.
Problems highlighted at the rally included persistent appeals from the families of forcibly missing persons, concerns about ‘land grabbing’ and reported attacks on Hindu temples in the area, persistent militarization, surveillance of journalists. and human rights activists, attempts to prevent the remembrance by Tamils. , mandatory cremations denying Muslims interment rights during the pandemic, and a long-standing call for a base salary of LKR 1,000 for Malaiyaha or Hill Country Tamils employed on tea plantations.