Tamils in Batticaloa held a protest today on Human Rights Day to highlight the ongoing human rights abuses perpetrated against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state.
Tamil civil society activists, politicians, farmers and clergymen drew attention to the human rights violations taking place in Batticaloa, in particular the cruelty faced by Tamil farmers, threats by Sri Lankan police and repression of Tamil civil society and media.
In Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai, Tamil livestock farmers' lands are being grabbed and cattle are being tortured and killed by illegal Sinhala settlers. In October, Sri Lankan police cracked down on Tamil farmers and activists as they protested against the President's visit to the district. The protesters demanded that the illegal encroachers should be removed from the pastureland in Madhavanai and Mayilathamadu, Batticaloa and protested against the Sri Lankan President’ persistent failure to resolve the matter.
The protest was met with brutal force by the Sri Lankan police officers who also attacked the protesters, including the leader of the Amparai Families of the Disappeared Association.
Following the protest, two Tamil journalists, Punniyamoorthy Sasikaran and V Krisnakumar, were questioned by Sri Lankan police for over two hours over their coverage of the protest. In their coverage of the protest, the journalists highlighted that the police officers attacked the peaceful protesters.
The demonstration was organised by Batticaloa District Civil Society Union and was held outside the Batticaloa Human Rights Commission.