Protests have taken place in Mullaitivu and Jaffna to condemn Sri Lanka’s arrest of two leading Tamil rights activists, just hours after they demonstrated against the illegal construction of a Buddhist vihara.
Former Northern Provincial Council member T Ravikaran and civil society activist R Mayuran were arrested and accused of “criminal coercion” for taking part in the protest on Wednesday. They have since been released on bail.
The men were part of several Mullaitivu locals and activists protesting against the illegal construction of a Buddhist vihara in Kurunthurmalai. Sri Lankan authorities have continued with the construction of the Buddhist shrine on Kurunthurmalai, a hill-top site of an ancient Tamil temple in the district’s Thannimurippu area, despite a Sri Lankan court order barring any new construction.
After the men were arrested, a rally was held in Mullaitivu calling for them to be released and charges against them dropped.
As locals rallied through the town and to Mullaitivu Police Station, Sri Lankan soldiers and police officers were filming them in yet another attempt to intimidate the protestors.
Meanwhile in Jaffna, university students held a rally in solidarity with Ravikaran and Mayuran, demanding they both be released without charge and Sinhala Buddhist colonisation halted.