For the third day, Tamils and Muslims continued their march for justice from Pottuvil to Polikandy (P2P), commencing with a special prayer at the Trincomalee Shiva Temple on Friday morning.
The march, which has been organised by Tamil war victims’ families and civil society organisations across the North-East, aims to bring Tamil and Muslim calls for justice and accountability to the attention of the United Nations and international community.
The protests started at Batticaloa on the second day of protests, before reaching Trincomalee on Thursday night via Verugal and Kinniya.
Several prominent Tamil politicians, civil societies, and religious leaders participated in the mass P2P protest, including Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam, TNA spokesperson and MP M. A. Sumanthiran, TNPF leader and MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, TNPF MP Selvarajah Kajendran, TNA MP Sivagnanam Sritharan, TNA Media Secretary Pakkiyaselvam Ariyanethran and former TNA parliamentarians Seeniththamby Yogeswaran and Kathirgamathamby Thurairetnasingam.
Amongst the issues raised by the protests are the increasing Sinhalisation across the North-East, forced cremation of Muslims, the arbitrary detention of Tamil political prisoners and state inaction in relation to the enforced disappearances in the North-East.
Sri Lankan security forces have attempted to break up the rally at various points of the march by threatening protesters, obstructing protestors with roadblocks and obtaining injunctions against the protest, but protesters have defied these moves and continued their demonstration.
Sri Lankan police threatened and tracked protestors in Vavuniya by recording vehicle and motorcycle numbers of the public supporting those marching. Journalists also reported investigators harassing and taking pictures of them when they were covering protests in Vavuniya.
Tamils and Muslims who were waiting to greet protestors in Mullaitivu were disrupted by Sri Lankan police claiming they would not be allowed to gather due to COVID-19 concerns. Protestors who aimed to join the procession via vehicles were disrupted as nails were placed on the road at the military checkpoint in front of the Yan Oya bridge near Pulmoddai. A similar incident was reported to have occurred previously as vehicles attempted to attend the Kinniya protest.
“The nails have damaged our tyres and we are on the streets unable to continue our protests. The police van in front of us provided for security does not seem to be helping in any way. Earlier on during our protest march, people threw rocks at the bus. They tried to set [protestors’] cars on fire with petrol cans and they just about escaped death. We urge all human rights organisations to condemn these acts! We will dust these off and continue to protest,” said one of the protestors.
Campaigners who joined the #P2P procession in vehicles were disrupted as nails were placed on the road at a military checkpoint in front of the Yan Oya Bridge near Pulmudai. pic.twitter.com/XpLgAWNYEh
— Tamil Guardian (@TamilGuardian) February 5, 2021
Chavakachcheri and Mallakam Magistrates dismissed petitions submitted by Sri Lankan police on the grounds that people have the right to freedom of speech and assembly.
Jaffna Magistrate vacated his previous order banning protests after Jaffna Mayor Visvalingam Manivannan told the court that Public Health Inspectors confirmed that the rally would not spread COVID-19.
Point Pedro Magistrate has ordered a ban on protests after Point Pedro, Nelliyadi and Valvettithurai police filed applications to block the peaceful protests from going ahead.
When P2P protesters reached Mullivaikkal amidst heightened security presence and intimidation, they stopped off at the Mullivaikkal memorial to pay their respects.
P2P protesters also visited Mullaitivu’s Neeraviyadi Pillaiyar Temple on their way to collect their blessings.