Thousands Protest in Jaffna

Rejecting domestic probe, demanding release of UN report

by Tamil Guardian, London, February, 24, 2015

Photograph Tamil Guardian


Rejecting any domestic inquiry conducted by the Sri Lankan state, protesters questioned how those responsible for mass atrocities can conduct a credible, independent investigation.Thousands of Tamils protested in Jaffna this morning, calling on the UN Human Rights Council to release the report looking into mass atrocities committed against the Tamil people, the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) report, next month as planned.

The protest, organised by the Jaffna University civil society, including students and teachers, was unanimously endorsed by Tamil political parties and civil organisations in the North-East. Some even travelled from the East to take part.

Photo: @hamsana

“[W]e wish to tell the international community through this protest […] that human rights violations, war crimes, unlawful detentions and kidnappings have taken place on a massive scale in Sri Lanka,” A Rajakumaran, one of the organisers and member of Jaffna University, told the Tamil Guardian in Jaffna.

“These things all equal genocide. They will not be resolved by just any kind of investigation mechanism. This is because those in today’s government were part of the previous government. They were in support of the genocidal cause against Tamils. Therefore we do not have any faith that a domestic investigation will deliver justice in any way to the affected Tamil people,” he said.

The organiser said he was questioned by the Jaffna police chief on the eve of the demonstration.

“Although there haven’t been threats like there were before, I still received a phone-call last night from the police commander for Jaffna, questioning me about this demonstration. I do not believe that police interrogation is necessary for this kind of democratic protest,” he said.

Photographs Tamil Guardian


Mr Thusinthan, leader of the Jaffna University Students Union (JUSU) echoed Mr Rajkumaran’s words, saying justice for the genocide was needed.

“The delay of the UN report has caused distress. Here we are stating clearly that we do not trust the Sri Lankan government. We need justice for the genocide committed against our people. The investigation for this must take place on an international level,” he told the Tamil Guardian on the sidelines of the protest.

Commending the high turnout, he added,

Photograph @AnanthySasi

“Thousands more people than we expected have rallied with us to affirm their rights to the international community and to demand justice. They have declared emphatically that there must be an international investigation into the genocide committed against us. The world must understand this.”

After reading out the memorandum from the destroyed Thileepan memorial, Mr Rajakumaran handed copies to the Bishop of Mannar and the president of the Saiva priests association, S. Vasudeva Gurukkal, who would go on to submit the memorandum to the UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo, Subinay Nanday.Starting at the Jaffna University, demonstrators marched past the iconic Nallur temple, and towards the UN offices on Temple Road, where they handed over a memorandum to officials, reiterating their demands.

Photograph Tamil Guardian

Mr Rajakumaran said the loss of lives continued and pledged the democratic struggle of the Tamil people will continue until justice is achieved. 

“We were very happy when we were told that Navi Pillay’s successor as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was as firm and would remain neutral. […] Eelam Tamils are living under the worst kind of repression. We continue to face loss of lives and loss of property. Please pursue an honest path for the Tamils. Until that situation arises, we will continue to fight democratically. That may create discomfort for [the international community]. But until we achieve justice, our struggle will continue,” Mr Rajakumaran said.

Photograph Tamil Guardian

Female Jaffna university students march carrying placards reading: “We want an immediate independent international investigation into war crimes committed against us by the Sri Lankan state – Eelam Tamil people”. (Photograph Tamil Guardian)

Extract from the memorandum read:


“We hereby express our frustration regarding the deferral of the OISL report that was due to be released at the upcoming UNHRC session in March to September 2015. As we are the ones affected we wish for the report to be released as planned.”

“If we observe the structure that is in place in President Maithripala Sirisena government  (which includes those who significantly contributed to the war) and the history of the failure of past internal investigation mechanisms to establish justice, it is clear that we do not have hope on any internal mechanisms to be created by this government.”
“Based on our long term experience of the Sinhala Buddhist leadership in Sri Lankan politics, Sri Lankan military officials will not be punished for any kind of crimes internally, we are aware of that.”

“We are also aware international monitoring of an internal investigation will only result in a waste of time.”

Memorandum by protesters

“Votes from the Tamil people in large numbers for Maithri shows their feelings against Mahinda Rajapaksa, we did not expect a difference in the change of power.
In just one month after assuming duties, President Sirisena has proven that Tamil people cannot expect any change from this government. No noticeable actions have been taken by the Sirisena government on the serious problems faced by us, such as militarisation, resettlement, disappearances, and illicit detention of the political prisoners, neither have these issues been addressed in the 100 day plan proposed by the President. Sirisena government did not even hold any talk for the political solution.”

The Northern Provincial Council suspended its regular sitting today in light of the protests.Politicians from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and
Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) also joined and supported protesters, including TNA MPs S Sritharan, Suresh Premachandran, Selvam Adaikkalanathan, Sivasakthy Ananthan and TNA NPC Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan,as well as S. Kajendran from the TNPF.

Speaking to press, the Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph, said, “During the final stages of the war, the Sinhala state massacred 46,000 innocent Tamils. This is a huge genocide.”

Echoing calls rejecting any domestic probe into atrocities in Sri Lanka, he added,

“People have not put their trust in the new government when it comes to investigating the crimes committed against the Tamils. In this situation, the Tamil people believed that they would obtain justice with the publication of the UN Human Rights Commission’s report.”

Calling for the UN to release the report into Sri Lankan atrocities committed against Tamils in March, the Bishop said,

“The delay of this report from March to September, comes as a betrayal to Tamils. Considering that delaying justice is equal to denying justice, we are urging for action to release this report immediately.”


Protest commences with the traditional breaking of a coconut (Photograph Tamil Guardian)

Photograph Jaffna Press Club

Woman cries clutching photograph of her disappeared son. (Photograph Tamil Guardian)

The Jaffna University Students’ Union (JUSU) yesterday expressed its disappointment at the deferral of a UN inquiry into mass atrocities committed against Tamils and announced it will be staging a protest rejecting a domestic Sri Lankan investigation on Tuesday.

The postponement of the inquiry had caused the Tamil people “disappointment with a great pain,” said a statement released by the JUSU. “6 years passed; there has been no justice for our people ruthlessly massacred by the Sri Lankan government using its military machines.”

The statement went on to reject any domestic mechanism announced by the Sri Lankan government, stating that “it is nothing but an attempt to protect criminals and a preparation to destabilise human rights issues for us Eelam Tamils.”

(Photograph Tamil Guardian)

NPC Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan with protesters (Photograph @AnanthySasi)

Bishop of Mannar Rayappu Joseph and TNA MP Selvam Adaikkalanathan (Photograph: Jaffna Press Club)

(Photograph Tamil Guardian)
Protesters march past Nallur temple (Photograph Tamil Guardian)
(Photograph Tamil Guardian)
(Photograph Tamil Guardian)
(Photograph Tamil Guardian)
Tamil Catholic clergy join protesters (Photograph Tamil Guardian)
 (Photograph Tamil Guardian)
(Photograph Tamil Guardian)
Photograph Tamil Guardian


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