Tamils are protesting across the North-East today on Sri Lanka's 76th Independence Day as Tamils continue to lack basic rights in their homeland.
For decades, the day has been marked as a 'Black Day' by Eelam Tamils, who see it as a reminder of Sri Lankan state oppression.
This year both the Jaffna University Student Union and the families of the disappeared, have called for a boycott of Independence Day celebrations.
Speaking earlier this week, Thambirasa Selvarani, President of the Amparai District Missing Persons' Association said that February 4th is commemorated as Independence Day however for many like her, it is a black day devoid of any celebration.
“Why celebrate an Independence Day when Tamils are not allowed to be independent? We cannot even say a word without being intimated or silenced. We, the Tamils are yet to gain our independence.”
The island's economic crisis has also seen discontent in the South, over the cost of the celebrations, which has traditionally seen a range of military hardware paraded through the streets of Colombo.
In anticipation of these protests, the Jaffna Police have sought an injunction order from the Jaffna magistrate to prevent protests and marches, however, the request has been turned down.
Jaffna Deputy Magistrate P. Thavapalan rejected the motion filed by the Jaffna Police to prohibit representatives of political parties from holding protests. The Magistrate had declared that it was the public’s right to protest. He dismissed the request stating that protests could be held for as long as it does not disturb Independence Day events.
Black flags were hoisted at the campus of University of Jaffna to mark the day, while students organised a mass rally in Kilinochchi to oppose the celebrations.
In Amparai, a demonstration was organised by the Tamil National People's Front, in which they reaffirmed key demands by the Tamil people.
The demands include enusring justice for the disappeared, an international investigation for the 2009 Tamil genocide, immediate removal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the release of Tamil political prisoners, stopping land grabbing of Tamil lands and to stop destroying archeological evidence of the Tamil homeland.
Sri Lankan police ramped up their presence at a protest in Batticaloa as Tamil civil society activists and mothers of the disappeared held placards and clutched photographs of their forcibly disappeared loved ones.
The TNPF also organised a protest outside the Mullaitivu District Secretariat office.