Jaffna citizens protest against President’s visit to the North as he promises to implement 13A

The Police yesterday used water cannons against hundreds of people protesting in Jaffna against President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to the district to coincide with the Thai Pongal festival. The protest was organised by families of the forcibly disappeared and students of the University of Jaffna calling on the government to return their loved ones and land occupied by the military as well as other government agencies in the North. They also called on the government to release all Tamil political prisoners. The protestors carried placards calling on President Ranil Wickremesinghe to return their missing family members and not attempt to bribe the families instead.

The police had erected barricades at the Nallur Arasati Road-Vaiman Road intersection to obstruct protesters rallying against the President's visit. A tense situation arose when the protesters tried to push past the barricades. The Police used water cannons in an attempt to break up the rally. However, protestors continued to protest at the location while shouting slogans against the President and demanding answers from the government. Heavy police and military deployment were witnessed in the area.

President Wickremesinghe met with a series of religious leaders and prominent figures during his visit to Jaffna yesterday. He first visited the Sri Naga Viharaya in the morning and met with its Chief Incumbent Meegahajandure Siriwimala Thera before engaging in religious observances.

“President met Reverend Sri Somasundaram, Nallai Adeena Ashramadipati and received his blessings. He also visited the Bishop of Jaffna, Most Reverend Dr Justin Gnanapragasam and engaged in a brief discussion,” the President’s Media Division said.

Attending the National Thai Pongal Festival the President said his government is hoping to fully implement the 13th Amendment to its Constitution to facilitate unity among all the communities so that they could live as one. He said a Social Justice Commission would be established to address the grievances of all communities to create a Sri Lankan identity without discrimination.