Fishermen hoist black flag for Independence Day

[TamilNet, Monday, 04 February 2002, 08:14 GMT]
Protesting fishermen who are urging Colombo to lift the restrictions and ban on fishing in the northern peninsula Monday flew black flags in the Jaffna District Secretariat. Jaffna’s Government Agent, Mr.K. Shanmuganathan, could not hoist the Sri Lankan national flag and hold the customary ceremony at the secretariat Monday to mark 54th anniversary of the island’s independence from British rule because of the fishermen’s protest, officials said.

However, the secretary of the Federation of Vadamaradchi Fisheries Societies, Mr. S. Sooriyakumar, hoisted a black flag on the ceremonial flagpole at the secretariat. More than 1500 fishermen wearing bands thronged the Jaffna secretariat for the protest Monday morning.

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Sri Lanka Army commandos marching in the parade. (Photo TamilNet)
"All our fundamental rights, even the right to life, the right to a livelihood, have been snatched away from us by the Sri Lankan security forces and the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. Hence, to us, Sri Lanka’s independence day symbolises nothing but the arbitrary arrogation of our freedoms- freedoms to which we are entitled as equal citizens of this country", Mr. Sooriyakumar said after hoisting the black flag at the Jaffna Secretariat.

Jaffna University students also put up black pennants and flags on the campus grounds in support of the protesting fishermen.

Jaffna fishermen began a protest on 31 January before the Jaffna secretariat urging the Sri Lankan government to lift the ban and restrictions on fishing in the northern peninsula.
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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his wife Maithri Wickremesinghe observing the military parade with President Kumaratunga. SLA commander Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle is seated behind the President (right). (Photos:TamilNet)


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