Sri Lanka celebrated its 75th anniversary of independence from Britain on Feb. 4, but while this is a joyous event for the country, the minority Tamils see the day as representing the violence and inequality they continue to face to this day.
The Tamil Guardian reported Tamils in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, named the anniversary as “Black Day,” as Tamils protest military occupation and their lack of basic rights.
The protest began at the University of Jaffna on Feb. 4, where black flags were raised across the University’s campus to mark Black Day. Storefronts across Jaffna were closed for the day, according to the Tamil Guardian.
The protest continued from the north to east of the country until it ended on Feb. 7 in Batticaloa, which is in the Eastern province.
Protesters were seen demanding justice for enforced disappearances, an international investigation into the Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka, and the release of all political prisoners, alongside a number of other requests.
Gary Anandasangaree, a Liberal MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park, spoke in the Parliament on Feb. 6 telling the House that in order for Sri Lanka to reach its potential, there needs to be accountability for the horrors committed, a reduction in militant supervision, and self-determination must be given to the Tamil people.
“Sri Lanka must deal with its demons,” he said. “The island must reduce its bloated military spending, address accountability for its atrocities committed, recognize the Tamils’ right to self-determination, and be a country governed by the rule of law.”
Bruno Swampillai, a Scarborough resident, said for there to be equality in Sri Lanka, Tamils should be given the ability to govern the Northern and Eastern provinces.
“Accept Tamil people need the same rights in Sri Lanka like everyone else, we should be able to govern the north to east,” he said.
Pearl Action, an organization which promotes the human rights of Eelam Tamils, released a statement on Feb. 8 surrounding the protests in Sri Lanka.
In its statement, they supported the Tamil protesters who are being faced with intimidation from Sri Lanka’s security forces.
To show support for the Tamils in Sri Lanka, Tamil Diaspora in England and Australia held mass protests to mark “Black Day”.