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Tamil livestock farmers mark 200 days of protest against Sinhalese settler violence in Batticaloa

Tamil livestock farmers in Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai, Batticaloa, marked 200 days of continuous protest today, against state-sponsored Sinhalese settler violence.

The Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai Livestock Farmers Society organised a mass protest on 23 December 2023, to highlight the longstanding grievances of 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 calling on the Sri Lankan government to intervene and address their concerns, however, the state have taken little action to address their grievances. 

Religious leaders, political representatives, civil society and university students joined the farmers at the protest to mark the 200th day. 

The farmers said that there were over 350,000 livestock farmers in the Mayilathamadu and Madhavanai area while 800 Sinhala settlers have been illegally occupying 30 acres each for rearing their livestock and engaging in agricultural farming. They said that due to the destruction of food owing to excessive cultivation, milk production has decreased by 4000 litres. 

They also said that since last September, around 1750 cattle have either been shot at, cut with swords, trapped in electric fences that settlers had removed or have gone missing. As a result, the farmers say the loss in total earnings amounts to over Rs. 1 million. 

Farmers said that although 36 complaints were registered in the Valachchenai police station regarding the destruction of cattle, only three complaints were filed in court.

Last year, Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) leader Gajendrakumar, 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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