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Case dismissed – Tamils released after being arrested over prayers in Vavuniya

A group of eight Tamil devotees who were assaulted and arrested by Sri Lankan police officers at the Vedukkunaari temple earlier this month, have had the case filed against them dismissed, after being detained for more than a week in custody.

The eight individuals including the chief priest were manhandled, assaulted, and arrested when they were taking part in the Shivarathri observances at the temple earlier this month. Sri Lankan police unleashed violence and raided the site, which Sinhala Buddhist nationalists have claimed as an ancient Buddhist area, in the Tamil homeland.

Following their arrest, five of the eight also launched a hunger strike, whilst protests took place across the North-East demanding the group all be released.

The judge presiding over the case dismissed it earlier today. Several lawyers, temple administration officials, and family members were present in the court when it was taken up today.

Although Vedukkunaari Hill Athi Sivan temple has been a place of worship for Tamil people for generations, it has been declared as an ancient Buddhist site by Sri Lanka's archaeology department. This forms part of Sri Lanka's ongoing efforts to colonise traditionally Tamil sites.


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