Colombo, Feb 24 (PTI) Twelve Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislators alleged on Thursday that they tried to meet the Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to protest against the government’s alleged “land grabbing” in the country’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, but were denied permission.
The legislators claim that the Sri Lankan government was trying to dispossess the land owned by Tamil families for generations under the guise of “environment conservation.”
These legislators say that they have been trying to meet the President since 2019.
“The President has refused to meet the Tamil legislators and listen to their grievances. TNA’s requests to meet by prior appointments have been continuously denied for almost 3 years after which we had to stand outside his office,” Shanakiya Rasamanickam, a TNA MP told PTI.
These legislators later lined up outside the Secretariat holding placards that read: “Stop the land grabbing of Tamilians under the guise of forest conservation.”
They argue that the Sri Lankan government, which is predominantly Sinhalese majority, is attempting to marginalise the country’s Tamils.
These protests assume significance since it comes ahead of the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva where Sri Lanka's human rights record will be discussed.
The President’s office, however, has dismissed these protests as a gimmick, and said the legislators were not allowed to meet Rajapaksa because they did not have prior appointment.
“The President had left for a previously scheduled programme this morning. Although the TNA MPs have been given time to meet the Prime Minister, they have not attended the meeting and were protesting outside the Presidential Secretariat,” a statement from the Presidential Secretariat said. PTI CORR VM VM