Four thousand demonstrate against SLA in east
[TamilNet, Thursday, 21 March 2002, 13:47 GMT]
More than four thousand people Thursday demonstrated against the Sri Lanka army in Kiran, 26 kilometres north of Batticaloa, blocking traffic on the main road to Colombo from the eastern town for more than an hour. The demonstration and meeting were organised by civil society groups, NGOs, students and trade unions in the area to condemn the SLA for stripping and pulling down Annai Poopathy commemoration pandols and decorations in the villages of Kiran and Santhively Wednesday.
Annai Poopathy was a mother of five from Kiran who fasted unto death in May 1988 in a protest against atrocities by the Indian army in the island's Northeastern province.
|Angry protestors, demonstrating on the main road refused to allow a SLA vehicle from the Kommathurai camp.|
Two long processions started from Valaichenai, 32 kilometres north of Batticaloa, and from Morokkoddanchenai, three four kilometres south of Kiran Thursday morning. The marchers converged at Kiran junction and were joined by people from the village.
The protestors then demonstrated on the main road, blocking the traffic. During the demonstration, angry villagers refused to allow a SLA vehicle from the Kommathurai camp, 19 kilometres north of Batticaloa. Despite a heated altercation between the protestors and the soldiers demanding to go through, the road remained blocked by the crowds, holding placards and shouting slogans against the SLA. The army vehicle had to turn back.
A Police jeep from Valaichenai was also turned backed by the protestors.
The crowds later gathered on the grounds of the Kiran Pillaiyar temple for a protest meeting.
"The SLA cannot break our indomitable resolve to achieve our rights as a self respecting nation. Evil elements in the military are attempting to scuttle the peace process by engaging in petty acts such as pulling down Annai Poopathy's memorials here. They are committing a grave mistake. The Sinhala chauvinists in the south still have no idea of our nation's resolve, epitomised in Annai Poopathy, to struggle in the midst of great adversity," said Mr. Pon Selvarajah, ex MP for Batticaloa, addressing the meeting.
Several TNA politicians and civil society activist also addressed the protestors.
20.03.02 SLA pulls down Poopathy remembrance pandols