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Tamil and Muslim lawyers successfully push Muttur court to overturn ban on serving Mullivaikkal kanji

Muttur Magistrate Court has rescinded a ban on the distrbution of kanji after Tamil and Muslim lawyers successfully called for the court order to be overturned. 

On Sunday, Sampur police officers threatened Tamils in Trincomalee with a court order which stated that kanji could do not distributed due to public health concerns. It also said  that certain individuals were prohibited from participating in remembrance related activities but also stated that the order "applies to all people" and that they should not gather at schools or temples and vehicular protests cannot be carried out either. 

Later that day, four Tamils who had prepared and distributed kanji were arrested and dragged from their home by the Sri Lankan police officers.  On Monday, Muttur Magistrate Court ordered those who were arrested to be placed in remand custody until May 27. 

Speaking to the press today, Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) lawyer Sugash Kanagaratnam said: 

"The ban imposed on kanji distribution has been rescinded by the court in Muttur today. We raised several questions in court. If it isn't a crime to serve milk rice in the South, how come it is a crime to serve kanji in the North-East? We also pointed out that if this is left to continue then there is a danger that in future the police could arrest people for making and serving kanji in their own homes. The court accepted our arguments and has rescinded the ban that was in place. 

As defendants in the other case are being held under ICCPR legislation the court has ordered police to submit reports on them without delay. Therefore we are optimistic they too will be released soon. 

I am duty bound in this instance to express my gratitude to Muslim barristers. Ten Muslim barristers appeared alongside me, lending me their full support. They also guided me by explaining some intricacies of law relating to this matter. I didn't expect this level of support and participation. I once again say heartfelt thanks to those Muslim barristers. I believe this case will help strengthen the cohesion between the Tamil and Muslim communities. Our fight for justice will continue."

The Tamil nation is marking 15 years since the genocide at Mullivaikkal which saw the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils at the hands of Sri Lanka's armed forces. 

Read more on the massacre here: 15 years today - Soldiers throw grenades into bunkers with surrendering families. 


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