A Sri Lankan policeman walks past the Thileepan memorial in Nallur after security forces removed decorations that had been set up to commemorate Thileepan's hunger strike.
Tamil political parties and civil society actors have planned a hartal across the North-East in protest of a Sri Lankan court ban and intimidation from the security forces, preventing them from commemorating those who gave their lives for Tamil rights.
The hartal follows a series of protests and hunger strikes by Tamils across the North-East in defiance of the ban and to commemorate the sacrifice of LTTE’s Lt Col Thileepan.
Thileepan was an LTTE political leader who 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.
Gajen Ponnambalam, TNPF political leader, has called for Tamil and Muslim unity in these hartals, stating on Twitter:
. @GGPonnambalam : "We request the Muslim community and progressive Sinhala forces to join our North East wide shut down tomorrow (28th), protesting Sri Lanka government's ban on memorialization." pic.twitter.com/HF3LLikqXh
— Tamil National People's Front (@TnpfOrg) September 27, 2020
His support for these protests has also been shared by Jaffna University’s Arts Student Union; which stated:
Arts Students' union, University of Jaffna has said that it fully supports and joins the protest "against to Denying the right of commemorating the dead people" which is to take place in Northern & Eastern provinces on 28th of Sep. pic.twitter.com/OtuLx8yIwQ
— Oorukaai (@oorukaai4x1) September 27, 2020
The Sri Lankan threats and intimidation come amidst an increase in repression since the ruling Rajapaksa regime came to power. The Tamil North-East has seen an increase in military activity that aims to stifle Tamil activism in the region.