A series of protests are currently underway across the North-East today as Tamils across the homeland commemorated the death of LTTE’s Lt Col Thileepan, despite a Sri Lankan court ban and intimidation from the security forces.
Politicians, including from the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), joined civil society members and others to commence a fast at the Chavakachcheri Shiva Temple this morning at 10.48 am - the exact time that Thileepan passed away in 1987.
The LTTE political leader had embarked on a hunger strike 33 years ago and fasted to death in a protest appealing to the Indian government to honour pledges made to the Tamil people.
There was a heavy security presence at the temple in Jaffna, as armed Sri Lankan police officers watched on, taking photos and verbally clashing with some of the Tamils present.
A similar security presence was felt in Oddusuddan in Mullaitivu, where Sri Lankan security forces set up a camera on a tripod in a brazen act of intimidation as Tamils undertook a symbolic hunger strike in the district. Former TNA MP Shanthi Sriskantharajah, former Northern Provincial Minister Sathiyalingam and members of the Pradeshiya Sabha were present at the temple.
The hunger strike was organised in response to a Jaffna Magistrate Court banning events attempting to commemorate Lt Col Thileepan earlier this week. As Tamil politicians voiced their protest, Point Pedro Magistrate Court passed an order attempting to ban the hunger strike.
Last week, the Sri Lankan police blocked an event that was to be held in Vavuniya last week and arrested M K Shivajilingham, a former northern provincial council member, as he attempted to pay tribute to Thileepan in Nallur. Security forces also reportedly destroyed arrangements made for the remembrance in the early hours of September 15, which marks the beginning of the week-long commemoration.