Tamil groups describe peace march in Lanka a success

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Colombo, Feb 8 (PTI) Tamil political groups in Sri Lanka on Monday claimed their four-day march in the east and northern part of the country to highlight the grievances of the community members in the island nation was a success despite attempts to stop it.

The protest march started on February 3 from Pottuvil town in the eastern Ampara district and ended at Polikandy in the northern Jaffna district.

The organisers had dubbed it the P2P March, indicating the first letter of the starting and end point.

Shanakian Rasmanickam, a member of Parliament for the Eastern province from the main Tamil party Tamil National Alliance, said the crowd participation had exceeded their expectations.

He said the organisers were bolstered by the joining of Muslim minority political groups.

The protest march came days after the UN Human Rights Office called for an “international action to ensure justice for international crimes' allegedly committed during the 26-year civil war in the country.

Sri Lanka has rejected the report.

The protest highlighted several issues being faced by the Tamil community in Lanka.

The protesters allege that lands owned by Tamils are being grabbed and Tamil areas are being systematically populated with the majority Sinhala community since the military conflict ended in 2009 in Lanka.

They also claim that Tamil political prisoners continue to languish in jails under the prevention of terrorism laws.

The organisers said the court orders were served on politicians, preventing them from taking part in the peaceful protest march.

Abraham Sumanthiran, a leading TNA parliamentarian, said the security provided to him by the police's special task force (STF) had been withdrawn immediately after the march ended.

He had been provided with the security by the STF due to threats to his life, he said.

He said he is yet to be informed of the decision to remove his special security or on the reasons for the decision.

As per UN figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by the security forces during the then president Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime that brought an end to nearly three decades of civil war in Sri Lanka with the defeat of LTTE in 2009.

Both the government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels are accused of war crimes. PTI Corr NSA