Tamil nationalists back stepped-up police-state repression in Sri Lanka
16 August 2017
Over the last three weeks, police and Special Task Force (STF) units have arrested about 100 people in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Jaffna peninsula. Since the Sri Lankan army was mobilized to crush oil workers’ strikes late last month, security forces have set up roadblocks and checkpoints across the peninsula, as during the days of the civil war, sowing fear and terror among civilians.
Since the US-engineered regime change operation in January 2015 that led to the installation of President Maithripala Sirisena, the government has relied heavily on the police and military to block growing social anger. The present police terror in Jaffna indicates a new stage of intensifying attacks on workers, students and the poor nationwide.
The pretext for the stepped-up repression was an alleged assassination attempt on Jaffna High Court Judge Manickavasagar Ilancheliyan. During what appeared to be a street fight on July 22, an assailant snatched the weapon of the Ilancheliyan’s police security officer, firing and killing the officer. Ilancheliyan’s car was caught in traffic during the shooting. Within hours, police declared the attack was not aimed at the judge.
Ilancheliyan, who is infamous for his law-and-order outlook, often denying suspects’ legal rights, called for state intervention, declaring, “I am handling the most dangerous cases in Jaffna. I call on the authorities to ensure protection of the judiciary.”
The government and the Joint Opposition led by former President Mahinda Rajapakse denounced the alleged re-emergence of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) “terrorism.” Meeting with religious leaders and civil society organizations, Inspector General…