Politics & Current Affairs

Events to commemorate Tamil war dead meet with military intimidation

Tamils attending events in north and east in memory of war dead have faced intimidation by the Sri Lankan military despite claims by the government that it does not obstruct any such commemoration.

A Genocide Remembrance Week was launched by Tamils in the war ravaged north and east while the government has announced a 'war hero's month' to felicitate its armed forces.

State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene had declared that commemorating the dead is the right of every individual although the government will not sponsor such an event.

“We don’t have a problem with commemorating those killed and those who have disappeared during the conflict. That is the right of every individual. However, hoisting LTTE flags will not be permitted and the LTTE cannot be commemorated,” the minister told state run Sunday Observer.

However, the military have intimidated families of the war affected attending memorial events in the north and east, Tamil grassroots activists told JDS.

Photography and video

Military intelligence personnel who arrived at the launch of the Genocide Remembrance Week in Jaffna’s Chemmany on the 12th of May have photographed those in attendance.

The military had also made video recordings of  the memorial speeches.

In an apparent effort to discourage Tamils from paying respect to their loved ones, the Military intelligence personnel had also video filmed and behaved in a threatening manner in several other places in the north and east.

Incidents

On the 13th of May in Nagarkovil, 14th of May in Navali, 15th of May in Delft in the north and on the 16th of may in Eastern Trincomalee, members of Sri Lanka’s state intelligence videographed and photographed attendees at memorial events led by Northern Provincial Councillor MK  Shivajilingam.

In Nagarkovil relatives and activists paid respect to nearly 40 Tamils including school children studying at  the Nagarkovil Maha Vidyalayam who were killed by Sri Lankan Air Force bombing on September 22, 1995.

The memorial in Navali was held at the St Peter's church where at least 160 women, men and children seeking refuge from the fighting were killed by Aerial bombardment on 9 July 1995.

In Delft, Sri Lanka Navy hacked 25 civilians to death on  May 15, 1985 in what is known as the Kumudini Boat Massacre. The memorial was held at the burial place of those who were killed.

The event on the Trincomalee beach was held in remembrance of 53 Tamils killed inside the high security Welikada prison in Colombo by a Sinhala mob during the 1983 Black July riots where thousands of Tamils were killed in a pogrom.

Despite intimidation by state intelligence the final commemoration will go ahead as planned on the 18th of May in Mullivaikkal where thousands of Tamils were killed by indiscriminate heavy bombardment by Sri Lanka, said Councillor Shivajilingam.

© JDS