Thousands of people gather in Jaffna to demand minority rights

Thousands of people from the 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 began last week in Pothuvil in the eastern district of Ampara, covered several towns en route in the eastern province and Vanni, before reaching Polikandy in the district of Jaffna.

Many civil society organizations gathered, while prominent lawmakers and members of various Tamil and Muslim political parties joined the procession, chanting slogans against the government’s “crackdown” on minorities in Sri Lanka.

Over 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 unfolded, according to media reports.

“The reason for this protest march is to draw attention to the rights of 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 families of forcibly missing persons, concerns over “land grabbing” and reported attacks on Hindu temples in the area, continued militarization, surveillance of journalists. and human rights activists, attempts to prevent the remembrance by Tamils. , mandatory cremations denying Muslim burial rights during the pandemic and the long-standing call for a base salary of LKR 1,000 for Malaiyaha or hill Tamils ​​employed on tea plantations.

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