Human Rights

Lankan army destroys remaining LTTE graveyards a month ahead of ‘Heroes Week’

The politico-military leadership of Colombo has issued fresh orders to its armed forces in the former war-zone in the north to take control of the remaining Tamil Tiger graveyards, flatten them and occupy them erecting fresh military bases, weeks before the sensitive ‘Heroes Week’ commemorations.

Reports from Jaffna confirm that hundreds of heavily-armed military personnel have been brought in to the Tamil Tiger graveyard grounds, well-known as “Great Heroes Cemeteries” at Kanakapuram and Muzhankavil in the Kilinochchi district and Theravil in the Mullaitivu district to accomplish this task.

“The soldiers could be seen busy clearing these graveyard grounds and erecting fences around the boundaries of these cemeteries with barbed wires and putting up temporary military shelters from Saturday (October 19),” the Jaffna-based Tamil tabloid daily Uthayan reported on Monday (21).

New military bases

Many of such LTTE graveyard grounds have already been demolished and occupied by the military elsewhere in the north, seriously hurting the feelings of the Tamil people. Some of these former LTTE graveyards grounds have now become posh military headquarters with all the amenities and latest technologies.

The Kanakapuram LTTE cemetery was built in 1990 while the Muzhankavil and Theravil cemeteries were built in 1996 and 1997 respectively and several thousands of fallen LTTE killed in action were buried there, when these areas were under the full control of the Tamil Tigers, who were militarily defeated in May 2009.

The fresh effort by the Sri Lankan military has come exactly a month ahead of the annual “Great Heroes Week” commemoration. Of late, such commemorative events have become very sensitive and proved to be flash points between the military personnel and those who celebrate in the north. Last year, several Jaffna University students were injured and taken into military custody for lighting the traditional oil lamp in commemoration of thousands of Tamil people and the LTTE cadres killed during the 30-year long war.

Despite celebrating the military victory over the LTTE, the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa views such commemoration as a mark of continued respect for the LTTE and ideology by the Tamil people even though they have suffered enormously in facing the full brunt of the bloody war.

What makes all the more difference this time is that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which was once branded as the political proxy of the LTTE, has now captured the maiden provincial administration of the North. Some of their elected members have wowed not only to evict the occupying military from these graveyard grounds but also pledged to resurrect them as how they looked before.

Commenting the latest bid by the military to take over LTTE graveyard grounds, TNA’s Jaffna district parliamentarian Suresh K. Premachandran has said that the incumbent coalition government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa or its military “cannot easily erase the memories of the LTTE heroes by destroying their graveyards”.

“As far as we, the Tamil people, are concerned they are our children and heroes, even though the government and the military keep calling them as terrorists. The government can describe them (LTTE) as it likes, but they are our children who fought for the liberation for our people. This is the reality,” the Jaffna district MP has been widely quoted as saying.

“We have all the right to erect or resurrect tombstones in memory of our heroes and children in our own lands. It will be a grave mistake if the government and its soldiers think that we would forget our children by demolishing their graveyards. Instead, their actions will reinforce their memories in our hearts. We will wait for the right time to resurrect tombstones for the people and the liberation fighters killed in the war,” MP Premachandran has said, expressing hope that the Northern Provincial Council would take appropriate action in this regard.

© JDS

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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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