Malayaha Tamils rallied through Hatton today demanding equal land rights and declaring 21 June as Sri Lanka's "National Day of the Landless".
Demonstrators held placards and chanted slogans asking for "20 perches of land to build a house" and "agricultural land with a house" as Malayaha Tamil community continue to be denied land rights.
The event was organised by the Upcountry Land Rights Movement and was attended by various social activists and researchers from Deniyaya, Matale, Badulla and Nuwara Eliya.
Last year, Tomoya Obokata, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery found that the Malayaha Tamils' inability to own land "has forced them to live in so-called 'line-houses' which were built during colonial times."
During his visit, Obokata visited these houses and expressed his concern over the "undignified" and "degrading" living condiitons.
"I was told that typically, 5-10 people have to share a small space of 10 x 12 feet, and many of the line houses do not have windows or a proper kitchen. Further, there is also a limited number of latrines, with the result that several families have to share one latrine. There is no running water and in some line houses, there is no electricity," he added.
Obokata also noted that Malayaha Tamils are "disproportionally affected by marginalisation, discrimination, exploitative working conditions and appalling living conditions."