A senior Tamil lawmaker was attacked in Trincomalee district while accompanying a motorcade commemorating Tamil freedom fighter “Thyaga Theepam” Thileepan who fasted unto death protesting the occupying Indian army.
The police indifference to the attack by clearly identifiable men and women was widely condemned.
Tamil National People’s Front MP from Jaffna district Selvarasa Kajendran was accompanying the vehicles when it came under attack by a lion flag waving Sinhala mob including women at Kappalthurai in the presence of police.
The mob assaulted the decorated memorial in red and yellow, tearing it down and damaging Thileepan’s portrait. Subsequently, MP S Kajendran was surrounded by Sinhala thugs and was assaulted.
In videos that went viral on social media, the attack on the MP is clearly visible while the accompanying police instead of safeguarding him and chasing away the crowds remained mute spectators to the attack.
A woman in a blue colour dress holding a Sinhala flag tied to a pole hits the MP and a man in an orange colour sarong with a blue checked shirt punches him. While Kajendran was taken aside for safety, another man in blue shorts and a round-collared white colour T-shirt could be seen banging a white helmet on the MP.
While the mobs holding Sri Lanka’s national flag and the Buddhist flag were attacking the Tamil MP, the police officers appeared to do nothing to safeguard a lawmaker and keep the attackers at bay. Eyewitnesses say the attack was preplanned and the group was well-armed with clubs. The van carrying Thileepan's portrait was also attacked and the windscreen was smashed.
Cutting across party lines Tamil members of parliament have condemned the attack. Attorney at law and Jaffna district MP and spokesperson of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) M A Sumanthiran in his Twitter post has called for immediate action on the attacks.
“We strongly condemn this brazen assault on S Kajendran, an MP in the presence of the Police. The assailants can easily be identified. IGP must immediately take action” Tagging the minister for public safety Tiran Alles and President Ranil Wickremesinghe along with foreign minister Ali Sabry he has urged them “Now put your reconciliation rhetoric into action!”
Sivagnanam Siritharan, another senior MP from Jaffna has called the attack “barbaric”. If a Tamil MP just accompanying a motorcade carrying the portrait of “Thyaga Theepam” Thileepan can be attacked in public in broad daylight what’s the guarantee to the safety of the Tamil people, he has questioned in his statement?
“This attack clearly shows that the racist fire has still not been extinguished in this country. It’s still burning underneath. Moreover, this barbaric attack has come at a time when the UN Human Rights Council discussing Sri Lanka is ongoing in Geneva. We can’t expect the Sinhala establishment to take any action, as they have always remained silent when Tamils have come under attack. This incident has brought the right of self-determination of the Eelam Tamils to the forefront again” he further said in his statement.
Undergraduates of northern and eastern universities have vehemently condemned the attack.
“We strongly condemn this attack by Sinhala fundamentalists. The fact this attack has happened at the capital of the Tamil people is a shameful cultural attack. This is a classic example of how even basic rights like paying homage has come under attack and democratic space has been denied” the Jaffna University Students’ Union said.
The Student Union of the Faculty of Arts & Culture, Eastern University, Sri Lanka has also expressed its shock and condemnation and has demanded those who instigated the attacks and those who perpetuated them should be identified and brought to justice.
Several Tamil diaspora groups including the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), British Tamils Forum (BTF), Irish Tamils Forum (ITF), Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice (SGPJ - South Africa), Swiss Tamil Action Group (STAG) and the US Tamil Action Group (USTAG) and PEARL action have also denounced the attack.