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    » 01/07/2009, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Inhabitants of the north oppose celebration over capture of Kilinochchi

    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."

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    See also

    10/02/2009 SRI LANKA
    Religious personnel under Wanni bombings
    Hundreds of thousands of people are trapped in the war zone. There is a lack of food in Wanni: over the past 10 days, only 8 aid trucks have been sent for 250,000 people. No one can enter the refugee centers managed by the government.

    29/04/2009 SRI LANKA
    Rajapaksa triumphs in provincial elections: a vote against the Tamils?
    The victory of the United People's Freedom Alliance seems like indirect approval of the war against the Tigers. But the country is witnessing a competition of solidarity to assist the refugees. The Christian Churches are the most active. Muslims send five cooks to refugee centers in Vanni.

    19/02/2009 SRI LANKA
    Church of Colombo collects food and medicine for refugees from north
    An appeal from the archbishop, to "express our concern and solidarity with victims of the war on both sides at this juncture in a more concrete manner." The project is coordinated by Caritas-Seth Sarana. The products collected will be sent to refugee centers in the area of Vavuniya and Kilinochchi managed by the local dioceses.

    24/04/2009 SRI LANKA
    Two priests injured while helping refugees in war zone
    Fr. Vasanthaseelan was hit by a shell in the church of Valaignarmadam. His leg has been amputated. Fr. Pathinathan is now at Mulli-vaaykkaal Hospital. The government is appealing to the international community for aid for the refugees. The foreign minister of Colombo: "We are about to confront an emergency humanitarian situation."

    02/03/2009 SRI LANKA
    Government plans "villages" for the 200,000 refugees of Vanni
    They are being built in the areas of Mannar and Vavunya, and are being equipped with schools, banks, post offices, and health clinics. According to government sources, the refugees will remain there for at least three years. The temporary measures are being taken to allow the army to restore the areas involved in the conflict.



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