Tamil farmers in the Siththandi area of Mayilathamadu, Batticaloa, organised a protest on January 15 against the occupation of their land by Sinhala settlers.
As they marked Maatu Pongal, a festival celebrated to give thanks to cattle, Tamil farmers in Siththandi poured into the streets and blocked pathways in protest against the encroachment of their lands by Sinhala settlers.
Those in attendance at the rally included former Batticaloa MP and Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) spokesperson P. Ariyanethran, former MP C. Yogeshwaran and Youth Wing Secretary K. Seyon among others. Representatives from the Women’s Welfare Group, farmer collectives and locals also participated in the protest.
The protest comes as intimidation and threats against Tamil farmers and locals by Sinhala settlers has intensified over recent weeks.
Earlier this week, Tamil cattle farmers who went in search of their missing cattle were kidnapped and beaten by armed Sinhala men before being handed over to Sri Lankan police. While arrested, the Tamil farmers said they were tied and beaten by Sri Lankan soldiers.
On Christmas Eve, Sinhala settlers slaughtered Tamil livestock in the Mylathamadu and Maathavani districts in Batticaloa after repeated threats to Tamil farmers. The settlers are reported to have cleared vast areas of land and chased away livestock to cultivate corn.