Protests over Killing of a Tamil Activist in Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Protests over Killing of a Tamil Activist in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Green Left, 2016


Sarah Thanawala

Sri Lanka and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence

On 11 January 2022, a prominent Tamil protestor and activist Edward Mariyaseelan was killed when his fishing boat was allegedly crashed by a Sri Lankan navy vessel (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). Mariyaseelan was a part of the protests against land grabs in Mathagal, a city in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). While the Sri Lankan navy has denied taking any accountability for the killing, locals have claimed the Navy to be responsible (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). On 13 January 2022, protests were held in Jaffna, Sri Lanka once the activists’ body was received in his home village (Tamil Guardian, 2022b). 

With roughly one military member for six civilians, land grabbing has impacted the extreme militarization of the Tamil population (the Oakland Institute, 2021). Importantly, through the process of “Sinhalization”, Tamil-dominated Provinces (Northern and Eastern) are being converted as Sinhalese Buddhist majority areas with the illegal settlement of the Sinhalese (the Oakland Institute, 2021). Besides the army occupation, the acquisition of hundreds of Tamil homelands under the authority of the Wildlife Department, the Forest Department, and the Archeological Department is on the rise (the Oakland Institute, 2021). The killing of a popular tamil activist evidences the Sri Lankan Government’s repression of its Tamil community.

Source and further reading:

Tamil Guardian (2022a, January 12). Anger in Jaffna after leading Tamil protestor killed by Sri Lankan navy. Tamil Guardian. 

Tamil Guardian (2022b, January 13). Protest in Jaffna as body of killed Tamil activist returns. Tamil Guardian. 

The Oakland Institute (2021). Endless War: The Destroyed Land, Life, and Identity of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka. The Oakland Institute.