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Vavuniya families of disappeared defy court ban with protest and hunger strike on Sri Lankan Independence Day

The families of the disappeared in Vavuniya, who were instructed against taking part in demonstrations and hunger strikes on Sri Lankan Independence Day, resisted court bans by protesting and starting a hunger strike in Vavuniya, earlier today.   

Vavuniya Magistrates issued an order on Tuesday against the families of the disappeared in response to the planned protests and hunger strikes for today, stating the protest “would cause damage to public health in light of the coronavirus pandemic” and instructed against “any activities that will draw attention to the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva”.

Rejecting the Sri Lankan Independence Day and referring to it as a ‘black day’ instead, the families of disappeared organised and demonstrated with black flags and clothing in front of Vavuniya’s old bus station at 10 am today.

A restraining order was obtained by the Vavuniya Police Headquarters and a protest was ordered not to be held inside the Vavuniya police area so the families of disappeared mobilised at Vavuniya old bus station and protested before starting their hunger strike.

The demonstration was attended by multiple Tamil politicians, including Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Vino Noharathalingam and former Provincial Councillor Mayuran as well as many other locals.

Sri Lankan courts across the North-East issued court bans against the current peaceful protest from Pottuvil to Polikandi, which began yesterday. Protests and hunger strikes were also held today by families of the disappeared in Mullaitivu and Jaffna, despite court bans instructing against them.

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