|Thousands of people marched on Monday Nov 7 in Colombo alongside TNA MP Nadaraja Raviraj's hearse in protest at his slaying. His party blamed government security forces. Photo Anti-War Front
Black flags draped in mourning, shops shut in protest, thousands of Tamils gathered in Sri Lanka's north on Wednesday to pay their last respects to the second Tamil MP assassinated in a year by suspected government death squad.
Mourners sprinkled flowers at the feet of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP and human rights lawyer Nadarajah Raviraj, murdered in Colombo on Friday by an unidentified gunman, Reuters reported from Chavacachcheri in Jaffna.
In the distance, artillery shelling could be heard, a near-daily occurrence as Tigers and the Army exchange fire.
Angry and frustrated residents in Raviraj's Tamil hometown of Chavakachcheri in the northern army-held Jaffna peninsula, said they were sick of violence that has killed about 3,000 civilians, troops and Tigers this year.
"This shows the hatred toward the Tamils the Sinhalese have," 23-year-old Shekar Sintharajah, a student at Jaffna University, told Reuters after watching a Hindu ceremony at Raviraj's family home.
"Murders and kidnappings have gone too far. How long are they going to kill our MPs and how many?" he added.
"These killings must not be allowed nor should they be pardoned."
Joseph Pararajasingam, another TNA MP, was shot dead at Christmas midnight mass in the eastern district of Batticaloa.
The TNA, Sri Lanka’s largerst part and which is supportive of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), have pinned the killing firmly on the majority-Sinhalese government or government-aligned forces.
"The government should take total responsibility for this brutal murder which happened just in front of the military police headquarters," said fellow Tamil MP Suresh Premachandran. "His killers are very confident that they will never be caught."
Rights and aid groups say hundreds of people have been abducted, killed or 'disappeared' in the worst violence since a 2002 truce that has raised fears of a return to a war.
|Family of slain TNA MP Nadarajah Raviraj paying their respects.
"This is a very, very low cowardly act. They have killed a person who struggled for the freedom of his people in a non-violent manner," said 35-year-old local commerce teacher Thangarajah Gopalakrishnan.
On Monday, around 3,500 protesters of all ethnicities marched through Sri Lanka's capital with Raviraj's coffin on Monday to demand the government and the Tigers halt fighting.
President Mahinda Rajapakse, under pressure to solve a rash of extrajudicial killings and abductions, has called for Scotland Yard to investigate Raviraj's murder.
On Tuesday, thousands of Tamils in the Jaffna peninsula paid their last respects to Raviraj’s remains, whose body was flown from Colombo to Palaly air base in Jaffna and later kept at Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC) at Nallur.