Sri Lanka steps up security ahead of protest over assassination

Nov 13, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s police stepped up already tight security in the capital Monday ahead of a mass protest over the assassination of a moderate Tamil legislator and growing rights abuses, officials said. Several major roads in the city were closed and vehicle inspections intensified as anti-war demonstrators prepared to stage a march in Colombo denouncing Friday’s slaying of human rights campaigner Nadarajah Raviraj.

His Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party accused the government of trying to sabotage the demonstration by blocking buses transporting mourners and sympathisers to the capital.

“They are preventing people attending the rally,” legislator Suresh Premachandran said. “We have information that buses were turned away at Puttalam (in the northwest).”

Local authorities turned down a request to allow the remains of Raviraj to be brought to the main Colombo Town Hall building and the demonstration would now be held in an adjoining open park, Premachandran said.

In the main business centres of Pettah and Fort in Colombo, shops owned by minority Tamils remained shut as a sign of mourning and protest, while many put up white flags.

A group of anti-war activists asked workers to take p