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Vavuniya court bans Tamil families of disappeared from protesting against Sri Lankan Independence Day

Tamil families of the disappeared marking 1,400 days of protest in Vavuniya in December 2020

Vavuniya Magistrate Court imposed a ban on demonstrations and hunger strikes planned by Tamil families of the disappeared to mark Sri Lanka's Independence Day as a day of protest.

The court injunction has banned all forms of protest against Sri Lanka's 73rd Independence Day and any activities that will draw attention to the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva from taking place from February 3rd to February 6th.

“The ban requested by the police commissioner with regards to the conduct of agitations, demonstrations around the commemoration of the members of the proscribed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organisation and the release of political prisoners on the basis of the Criminal Procedure Act 1979, Section 106 (1) has been submitted to the court,” the order outlined. 

In its ruling, the magistrate court cited COVID-19 as a pretext to forbid the protests by the families of the disappeared, claiming that an agitation or demonstration in front of the Vavuniya Old Bus Stand, the A9 Highway or near the Post Office or the Police Station, would cause damage to public health in light of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Members of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared, including Shanmugaraj Sarojadevi and Kasipillai Jayavanitha, have been specifically banned from participating in any demonstrations under Section 106 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1979. The judge has postponed further discussion of the case to February 15. 

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