Responding to the arrest of Tamil student demonstrators, who had protested in solidarity with cattle farmers in Batticaloa, Tamil National People Front leader (TNPF), Gajen Ponnambalam, slammed the double standards of the Sri Lankan Police.
Ponnambalam noted that student protesters were initially accompanied by the police who facilitated the demonstration; only later to chase after and arrest the peaceful demonstrators for allegedly staging an illegal protest. As Ponnambalam details, the reasoning for the arrest was that they did not give notice. Not providing notice is not a crime as it is simply used to consider traffic and traffic police were already in attendance at the demonstration.
The crackdown on student protesters follows protests by cattle farmers who have been demonstrating against continued land grabs by settlers in Madhavanai and Mayilathamadu in Batticaloa district.
Ponnabalam detailed how Tamil farmers have been prevented from using grazing land due to settlements and how their livestock have often been killed and mutilated. One example being that of a cow fed a grenade and having its mouth torn apart.
Cattle farmers and Tamil journalists have faced continued harassment by Sri Lanka’s police and military, including death threats.
Ponnamabalam noted the sharp contrast with the police’s treatment of extremist Sinhala Buddhist monk, Ampitiye Sumanarathana, threatened to kill all of the Tamils in the South.
"Every single Tamil person will be cut into pieces!" exclaims the monk. "They will all be killed! All the Tamils in the south will be cut into pieces and butchered! The Sinhalese will massacre them."
In his speech, Poonambalam asks which such a double standard:
‘How on earth do you think this country is going to reach reconciliation?”