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Tamil livestock farmers mark 100 days of protest against Sinhalese settler violence in Batticaloa

Tamil livestock farmers in Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai, in the Batticaloa district of Sri Lanka, marked 100 days of continuous protest against state-sponsored Sinhalese settler violence. The Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai Livestock Farmers Society organised a mass protest on 23 December 2023, highlighting the longstanding grievances of aggrieved Tamil cattle farmers and their families who have been suffering from the violent encroachment by Sinhalese settlers on the grazing lands traditionally used by the Tamil farmers.

Tamil cattle farmers have been protesting against the encroachment on their grazing lands and the killing of their cattle by the settlers. Despite repeated calls for intervention, the Sri Lankan government has taken little action to address the concerns of the Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai farmers. This ongoing state-sponsored violence is causing immense distress to the Tamil community, as their traditional livelihoods are under threat.

Protestors were heard chanting, "We want our land, we want our resources", "Ranil, do not betray us" and "We want justice". 

The protestors were joined by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, Shanakiyan Rasamanickam, who expressed solidarity with the affected community. 

During the 100th day of the protest, Sri Lankan police officers were observed at the scene, taking pictures and videos of the Tamil protesters, raising concerns about the safety and security of the protestors, as well as the potential for further reprisals by the authorities.

On 15 December 2023, the situation escalated when Sri Lankan security forces, accompanied by extremist Sinhala Buddhist monk Ampitiye Sumanarathana, prevented two Tamil parliamentarians, including TNPF leader and MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, from visiting the protesting Tamil cattle farmers in Batticaloa. 

Read more here: Growing tensions in Mayilathamadu Madhavanai as Tamil cattle farmers face threats from Sinhalese occupiers

Earlier this year, Ponnambalam described the state-sponsored Sinhalese settlement in Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai, as a form of 'ethnic cleansing' to the Tamil Guardian. He stated that the settlers are forcibly taking over Tamil livestock farmers' lands under a state-sponsored scheme involving the secretive relocation of Sinhalese corn cultivators from the Polonnaruwa district to the Batticaloa district, disrupting the lives of the local Tamil population. 

As the Tamil livestock farmers continue their protest, their plight serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for international attention and intervention to ensure the protection of Tamil rights and prevent further escalation of state-sponsored violence in the East.

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