Sri Lanka Tamils march to protest deaths, disappearances

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Hundreds of ethnic Tamils began a four-day protest march from eastern to northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday to demand justice for civilians killed and forcibly disappeared during the country’s civil war, allegedly at the hands of the government’s military.

Politicians, civil and religious leaders on foot and in cars joined the march, which is also protesting alleged plans by the government to change the demography of the traditional Tamil heartland by settling majority Sinhalese there and taking over private lands.

Sri Lanka marks its 73th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule on Thursday. The approximately 500-kilometer (300-mile) march from the east to the north, which Tamils consider their homelands, is to end Saturday.

Relatives of missing people have also started a fast to mark Independence Day.