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Thousands take part in Ezhuka Tamil rally

 

Thousands take part in Ezhuka Tamil rally

Thousands of Tamils from across the North-East participated in the Ezhuka Tamil rally (Rise Up Tamil) in Jaffna today.

Organisers estimate that approximately 10,000 people attended the rally, making it the largest Tamil rights protest since the end of the armed conflict more than 7 years ago.

A procession from Nallur was joined by another from Jaffna University and gathered at Muttaveli for the main rally, which saw speeches from politicians and activists. As crowds gathered outside the famous Nallur temple, the arrival of Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran signalled the start of the rally.

Buses from across the North-Eat were organised to transport the thousands of attendees, with the rally procession stretching out across the streets of Jaffna. Disruptions and attempts by government-aligned paramilitary groups to stop protestors attending the rally were reported, but many were undeterred. People from across all 8 districts across the Tamil North-east travelled to Jaffna to join the rally. Waving flags draped in the Tamil national colours of red and yellow thousands from across all ages and regions marched, with posters calling for the freedom of the Tamil homeland from Sri Lankan military occupation.

Student groups were at the forefront of the protest, with youth from Jaffna University starting another rally, with merged with the main procession at Nallur. As they marched along the streets of Nallur, past the spot where LTTE political wing leader Thileepan held his fast unto death 29 years ago, protestors held placards calling for the Sri Lankan military to leave the Tamil homeland and for the return of military occupied land. Shops across the peninsula had shut down in solidarity with the rally.

Civil society organisations, including the Mothers of the Disappeared from Valikamam North and the National Movement to Release Political Prisoners also took part in the procession.