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Sri Lankan police crack down on Tamil farmers protesting against land grabs in Batticaloa

A peaceful protest by Tamil livestock farmers ahead of president Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to Batticaloa and against the ongoing land grabs by Sinhalese settlers in Batticaloa was met with brutal force by Sri Lankan police opposite of Chenkalady Central College, Batticaloa on Sunday.

The demonstration on Sunday was in solidarity with the cattle farmers and their family members who had, for 24 consecutive days, been rallying against the government failures to resolve the land grabs by Sinhala settlers in Madhavanai and Mayilathamadu in Batticaloa district. The protesters were joined by TNA and TNPF members, including TNA MP, Shanakiyan Rasamanickam, and TNPF spokesperson, Kanagaratnam Sugash, who expressed their support for the farmers of Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai whose lands are being grabbed and cattles are being killed by illegal Sinhalese settlers. 

The protesters demanded that the illegal encroachers should be removed from the pastureland in Madhavanai and Mayilathamadu, Batticaloa and protested against the Sri Lankan President’ persistent failure to resolve the matter. They were shouting slogans, such as "Mayilathamadu is Tamils' property", and holding placards which read "Do not occupy Tamil people's lands" and "Do not destroy the economy of Tamils".

The police forcefully objected to the peaceful protest as the president was attending an event close to the protest site. Protesters, including women, were severely beaten by police officers. According to Shanakiyan, the police claimed that they obtained a court order permitting them to stop the protest. The TNA MP further criticised the police force's  use of "double standards" in cracking down on the Tamil people's peaceful protest, whilst failing to resist Sinhalese monk, Ambitiya Sumanarathana, who along with Sinhalese settlers in Batticaloa, led a protest on Saturday, opposing Shanakiyan and other Tamil MP's protest against the illegal encroachment of Tamil farmers' land in Parliament on Friday. 





Livestock farmers in Batticaloa have been protesting against the encroachment of their lands and the killing of their cattles by Sinhala settlers since at least 2021. In August 2023, a new Buddhist temple was in the process of being built on land traditionally used by Tamil farmers in the border village of Madhavanai and Mayilathamadu. Tamil farmers continue to be subjected to intimidation and threats by the illegal setllers and government officials for seeking to protect their lands.  

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