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Tamils protests in Thaiyiddy over illegally constructed Buddhist temple

Tamils gathered in front of the illegally constructed Tissa Raja Vihara Buddhist temple in Thaiyiddy, Jaffna, demanding the return of land on which the site is encroaching.

Residents were joined by the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) as they demanded the return of the land, which is owned by 14 Tamil families that surround the illegal construction.

Speaking to reporters, TNPF lawyer Kanagaratnam Sugash said that Tamils will protest to show their opposition to the construction of this Buddhist temple at a site that has been historically Tamil.

“Tamils of all ages and from all walks of life will continue to turn up here for the next three days to show their opposition until the Buddhist temple is removed,” he said. “Hundreds of people have gathered here for the love of their homeland, so their message to the international community is clear. This temple must be removed from here.”

The Sri Lankan police have erected barricades around the shrine since the protests began last year, to block the public from entering the area. Protestors carried black flags and chanted slogans calling for an end to the illegal structures. 

A Sri Lankan oversight committee on ‘national security’ recently issued a directive, mandating the transfer of private land on which the Tissa Rajamaha Vihara is situated to the shrine, while also suggesting alternative land allocation for Tamil residents whose properties are affected. The directive has called for the land transfer to the Temple and provision of alternative lands to take place. 

The Sri Lankan state has continued to construct Buddhist structures across the North-East, accelerating a process of ‘Sinhalisation’ in the Tamil homeland.  

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