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Tamils protest illegally constructed Buddhist Vihara in Thaiyiddy

Tamils protested outside the Tissa Raja Vihara in Thaiyiddy, Jaffna, which was illegally constructed and is encroaching on the lands owned by local residents. 

Residents were joined by the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) yesterday as they demanded the return of the 100 parappu of land owned by 14 Tamil families that surrounds the vihara.

Tamils protest every Poya (full moon) day, highlight the collective effort to address the contentious issue of the Tissa Raja Vihara, which is being built on privately owned land that is being occupied by the Sri Lankan army. 

Protestors have been making this demand since last year, but no action has been taken by the state. Since then, the Sri Lankan police have erected barricades around the Buddhist structure to prevent the public from entering the area.

However, many residents have joined the protest in solidarity despite the continued intimidation by the police and military personnel.

Speaking to reporters, TNPF lawyer Kanagaratnam Sugash said:

"This protest restarted yesterday to oppose the illegal construction of a Buddhist stupa here in Thaiyiddy, and it continues today, a Poya (full moon) day. Day by day the numbers protesting are increasing. This conveys a clear message - that in Tamils' homeland, in whatever part of the north and east it may be, our people are not going to idly sit by a watch the Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists invade their lands. In Batticaloa people are protesting in Mayilaththamadu. In the north, in Jaffna, protests are underway here in Thaiyiddy. The Sri Lankan government has to heed these protesting voices. If they fail to do so, the international community should take this into consideration.

Planned genocide continues every day in Eelam. Every day the invasion continues. The reason why we continue to protest amidst many challenges and threats is that we wish to convey the message that we will not rest until these illegal acts are stopped. Further, if you try to invade any part of the Tamil homeland in future, wherever that happens, you will see protests spring up. Because this is not simply politics. These are the real feelings of the people. Their status. It is to do with their futures.

"We protest here for our nation, for our nationhood, for our self determination. For our land. Our struggle is a just one. The reasons for our protest are just. Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist government should heed our message. The international community should insist on justice for us. For as long as illegal Buddhist shrine is here we will continue our fight. This sends many messages for the future."

The illegal construction of the vihara forms part of Sri Lanka's efforts to colonise and alter the demography of the Tamil homeland. 

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