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2016 in pictures

As 2016 proved to be an eventful year world over, Tamil Guardian looks back at some significant moments in pictures


As Tamils across the world marked the annual harvest festival of Thai Pongal, in the Tamil homeland  the Sri Lankan government deployed soldiers in Jaffna as Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the Northern Province.

Thai Pongal 2016

One of the earliest of many protests, the relatives of missing persons gathered in Jaffna demanding to know the whereabouts of their loved ones.

Relatives of missing and political prisoners protest in Jaffna

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, met with family members of the disappeared who were staging a protest as he arrived in Jaffna in February.

UN High Commissioner meets protesting relatives of the disappeared in Jaffna

Editorial: No Turning Back

Sri Lanka’s Independence Day was marked by acts of Tamil protest across the North-East, with black flags raised across the Tamil homeland.

Protests in North-East as Sri Lanka marks Independence Day

At a military parade to mark Independence Day Sri Lanka's president declared that his government was “determined to face” a UN Human Rights Council resolution in order to protect the “pride and dignity” of the armed forces - a statement that he reiterated throughout the year.

Sri Lankan president ‘determined to face UN resolution to protect pride of armed forces’

Meanwhile, Sri Lankans in London protested against the prosecution of Sri Lankan soldiers for war crimes.

Sri Lankans in London protest against war crimes trials

Marking International Women's Day, women's organisations held demonstrations in Jaffna and Batticaloa, demanding an end to sexual violence against women and children. The demonstrations came after a number of incidents of sexual violence against Tamil girls by Tamil men in the North-East.

Women's Day marked in North-East with demonstrations against sexual violence

March saw a series of protests across the North-East demanding the release of Tamil political prisoners, including by students of Jaffna University.

Families of Tamil political prisoners launch hunger strike in Jaffna demanding their release

Jaffna Uni students protest demanding release of Tamil political prisoners

The leader of the British opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, reiterated the Labour party’s commitment to achieving justice and self-determination for the Tamil people.

UK opposition leader reiterates Labour Party commitment to justice and self-determination for Tamil people

Amongst the senior foreign dignitaries  to visit Jaffna this year was Sweden’s foreign minister  Margot Wallström, who held a series of meetings with civil society activists, displaced Tamils and the Chief Minister of the Northern Province.

Swedish Foreign Minister in Jaffna after meetings with Sri Lankan leaders

Marking the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils at the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka in May 2009, Tamils across the world and in all districts of the Tamil homeland in the North-East are came together in commemoration.

Tamils mourn 7 years after 2009

Tamil protestors took to the streets of Jaffna to demand the Sri Lankan government deliver accountability for their disappeared relatives, as well as release land that continues to be occupied by the military.

Protestors in Jaffna demand accountability for the missing and release of land

A set of leaked photographs published in June, appeared to confirm the use of cluster bombs by the Sri Lankan government during the height of a large scale military offensive seven years ago, which saw the death of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. (Photograph: The Guardian/Together Against Genocide)

Leaked photos confirm cluster bomb use in Sri Lanka

Sinhalese students at the Jaffna University clashed with Tamil students, as violence erupted over the use of a Kandyan dance from the south of the island at a traditional orientation programme.

Sinhalese and Tamil students clash at Jaffna University

Tamil Guardian co-editor and PEARL Advocacy Director Mario Arulthas travelled to Trincomalee to report on how Tamils in the region are struggling with the Sri Lankan state's spread of Buddhism across the North-East.

From Ilankaiththurai to Lanka Patuna

Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran, Minister of National Coexistence Dialogue Mano Ganesan and US Ambasador Atul Keshap exit a USAF aircraft during a historic trip to Jaffna, where the ambassador stressed that much remained to be done in order to ensure the implementation of the UN Human Rights council resolution on accountability and reconciliation.

Much to be done says US ambassador after visit to Jaffna

Displaced Tamils told Sri Lankan’s Foreign Minister that they were prepared to protest until their deaths, in order to secure the release of their land from military occupation, as he visited the Tamil North-East on Saturday.

We are prepared to die for our land – IDPs tell Mangala

Thousands of Tamils from across the North-East participated in the Ezhuka Tamil rally (Rise Up Tamil) in Jaffna.

Thousands take part in Ezhuka Tamil rally in Jaffna

Ezhuka Tamil – A Conversation about Democracy

Tamils in the North-East gathered outside the public library in Jaffna as the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon visited to raise awareness of their plight.

Tamils voice their plight as UN chief visits Jaffna

The United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances said “international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators” to take part in a judicial accountability mechanism for human rights abuses, including disappearances. (Photograph: Colombo Gazette)

UN working group calls for international judges in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan police are reported to have shot dead two Tamil students from Jaffna University on October 20th. The killings sparked protests demanding justice across the North-East as well as internationally.

Jaffna University students shot dead by Sri Lankan police

The Royal Borough of Kingston in the United Kingdom officially twinned with Jaffna in October, following unanimous endorsement from British political parties in the region, paving the way for increased co-operation between the two areas.

Royal Borough of Kingston twins with Jaffna

For the first time since the end of the armed conflict, thousands of Tamils in the North-East gathered at thuyilum illams (LTTE resting homes) across the North-East, which had been destroyed by the Sri Lankan military following the military defeat of the LTTE in 2009.

Cleaning and moving away the rubble with their own bare hands, locals lit flames and lamps to remember the fallen cadres.

Tamils mark Maaveerar Naal 2016 worldwide

Families of the missing demonstrated in Jaffna town marking international Human Rights Day.

Families of missing demonstrate in Jaffna on Human Rights Day 

Tamils across the North-East remembered the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.

Tsunami victims remembered in the North-East