05/13/2014, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Sri Lanka preparing Victory Day but only the south will celebrate

by Melani Manel Perera
On Sunday, the government is set to celebrate the end of the civil war and the defeat of Tamil rebels. However, in the mostly Tamil north, celebrations will be banned, a decision criticised by the National Peace Council, which calls instead for a moment of remembrance for all of the war's victims.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The Sri Lankan government plans to celebrate Victory Day next Sunday in Matara (Southern Province) to mark the army's defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels. On the same day, however, communities in northern Sri Lanka will not be allowed to commemorate the event to prevent "political parties and separatist groups from glorifying the rebels."

The National Peace Council criticised the government's decision, calling instead for "a religious commemoration on a national scale in the memory of all those who lost their lives during the war."

On 18 May 2009, the founder and leader of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was killed by a special unit of the armed forces. His death marked the end of 30 years of war.

Tamil civilians in the country's northeast paid the highest price. At present, they complain of discrimination by the authorities and the absence of a genuine process of reconciliation.

In preparation for the Victory Day in Matara, the government has ordered the closure of more than 40 local schools for more than a week in order to organise the celebrations. The University of Jaffna (northern Sri Lanka) will also close between 16 and 20 May "to ensure that students organise commemorations."

The National Peace Council is saddened by the continuing emphasis on the divisions that exist within Sri Lankan society rather than the factors that could genuinely unify the nation. All of Sri Lanka went through 30 years of war that caused large-scale civilian casualties during offensives, bomb attacks and assassinations. Now, people should remember all those who died hopeful that such bloodshed shall happen again.

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