01/07/2009, 00.00
SRI LANKA

Inhabitants of the north oppose celebration over capture of Kilinochchi

by Melani Manel Perera
The government of Colombo has called for a day of celebration for the army's victory over the Tamil Tigers on January 2. In the refugee camps, the people accuse the government of Rajapaksa of failing to find a political solution to the conflict.

Mannar (AsiaNews) - The population of northern Sri Lanka are criticizing the celebrations organized by the government after the recapture of Kilinochchi, the stronghold of the Tamil Tigers in the north of Sri Lanka.

Those living in the refugee camps of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), the schools and Catholic priests in Mannar, in the north of the country, do not accept the rhetoric being used to celebrate the military success on January 2, and say: "Capturing Kilinochchi is only a geographical victory," while the government has still not proposed a political solution to the conflict.

The government headed by Rajapaksa has asked all institutions, including the schools and even private services, to celebrate the operation of the Colombo army. The plan for January 5 called for the display of the national flag at 8:30 in the morning, and the observation of a minute of silence for the soldiers fallen in battle.

Meeting with the refugees living in fertile areas like Arrippu, Silawathra, Kokkupadaya, and Maradhamadhu, AsiaNews gathered the views of priests and ordinary people on the celebrations held in the south of the country after the capture of Kilinochchi by the Sri Lanka Army. Fr. Seemanpillai Jayabalan says, "As a Catholic priest, I cannot accept this, and strongly express my disagreement, because we have lost so many youth in this war. They all are Sri Lankans. So many people have been displaced, and more than two hundred and fifty thousand people have been displaced in Kilinochchi. They don't have any shelter or basic needs. After the so much bloodshed, these politicians are celebrating. This is unacceptable. Innocent people are suffering a lot. What kind of humanity is this?"

Duke Croos, coordinator of a program set up for the young people of the National Fisheries Solidarity of Mannar, does not believe that the capture of the Tiger stronghold is the solution for the conflict, and says: "There are many economic and social problems in these IDP camps. We feel very sorry for these innocent people. And we have lost our sisters and brothers due to this fighting. So we can not accept this celebration conducted by people in the south. We totally disagree with the idea of having those celebrations at schools also."

One family living in the IDP camp in the area of Nanattan says, "We are OK with the celebrations for the capture of Kilinochchi if this brings us freedom. If we are given the possibility of living in freedom, we can be happy over the celebrations in the south."

Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
Religious personnel under Wanni bombings
10/02/2009
Rajapaksa triumphs in provincial elections: a vote against the Tamils?
29/04/2009
Church of Colombo collects food and medicine for refugees from north
19/02/2009
Government plans "villages" for the 200,000 refugees of Vanni
02/03/2009
Situation worsens for civilians in Wanni
07/02/2009