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Hunger strike by Jaffna fishermen ends with mass protest

After four consecutive days of a hunger strike, the Jaffna District Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Unions has concluded its demonstrations with a mass. protest outside of the Indian consulate in Jaffna, in protest of ongoing fishing disputes with their northern neighbours.

An estimated 100 demonstrators were monitored by Sri Lanka's police and reportedly barred from entering the consulate. A few of the protesters were eventually allowed in the consulate to discuss the matter with officials. The protesters were subsequently visited by Sri Lanka's Fisheries Minister, and government aligned paramilitary leader, Douglas Devananda. Devananda urged the demonstrations to end and claimed that he would look into the welfare of Tamil fishermen.

Devananda stands accused of a litany of war crimes including complicity in a child trafficking rings, abductions, and enforced disappearances.

Read more here: Abductions, murders and prostitution rings – The story of Douglas Devananda, who is still a Sri Lankan minister

A recent proposal by Devanada has faced criticism for proposing that Tamil civilians in the North-East being recruited to a force that patrols the sea alongside the Sri Lankan navy and wards off Tamil Nadu fishermen. Tamil fishermen routinely face abuse and initimidation by the Sri Lankan Navy.

An estimated 36 Tamil Nadu fishermen have been arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in the past three months. These arrests have often led to deaths in custody, incidents of torture and ill treatment. Fishermen in the town Rameshwaran, Tamil Nadu, staged a demonstration on 26 March to denounce the arrests and boat seizures by Sri Lanka's navy and to protest India's failure to provide a permanent solution to the maritime tensions between Indian fishermen and the Sri Lankan Navy.

The Eelam Tamil protestors launched their hunger strike in front of the St. John Bosco Vidyalayam in Jaffna. They had intended to launch the hunger strike in front of the Indian consulate in Jaffna but police asked that they be moved away from the consulate premises. 

Speaking to reporters, protesters expressed disappointment in that Tamil politicans were not taking up their cause. The protestors are Chellanthurai Narakunam, Anran Sebarasa, Chinnathambi Sanmukhraja and Anthonaypillai Mariadas. Reporters say the condition of one of the fishermen had deteriorated today. 


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