Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) MP Selvarasa Kajendren has been released on bail after he was arrested earlier today for paying his respects to Lt Col Thileepan, who sacrificed his life in protest against the failure of the Indian government to honour the pledges made to the Tamil people.
Sri Lankan police stepped up their presence in Jaffna today, after filing a court injunction at Jaffna Magistrate Court, to ban any commemorative events organised to remember Thileepan's sacrifice. According to TNPF spokesperson, Kanagaratnam Sugash, the Magistrate's ban on commemorative events only came into effect after Kajendren had already been arrested. Police have claimed he was arrested for violating quarantine rules, News1st reported.
Video footage shows Kajendren being dragged away and forced into a police van despite Sri Lankan police denying that this occurred.
Tamil National Alliance's (TNA) M A Sumanthiran condemned Kajendran's arrest on Twitter, highlighting that the TNPF MP was merely "exercising his right to memorialisation."
— Abraham Sumanthiran (@MASumanthiran) September 23, 2021
Kajendren has been paying his respects for Thileepan in Nallur, over the last week to remember each day of Thileepan's hunger strike which began on 15th September 1987. Thileepan was surrounded by 100,000 supporters in Nallur, Jaffna but passed away 11 days later, on the 26th September 1987.
Kajendren's arrest forms part of Sri Lanka's continuing repression of Tamil memorialisation activities across the North-East. While the state has always clamped down on Tamil memorialisation, there has been an escalating crackdown since Gotabaya Rajapaksa took office as President. Tamil victim survivors, civil society and politician's efforts to commemorate those who have sacrificed their lives have been met with heavy resistance from the state, with Sri Lanka's security forces stepping up their surveillance and harassment of Tamils.