Colombo blocks North’s commemoration of Tamil war victims
Colombo ( AsiaNews) - Colombo is behaving "unjustly" because it "treats its citizens in two different ways," preventing a part of the country from "commemorating the dead" of the Civil War, and prolonging a climate of fear and oppression in a large portion of the population, forced to "live in bunkers": this is the claim of Tamil groups in the north of Sri Lanka, a day after the nation celebrated the fifth anniversary of the end of the thirty-year war against the Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE).
On 18 May 2009, the founder and leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, the Tamil Tiger rebels) Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed by a special unit of the armed forces. His death marked the immediate and final end of the thirty years of ethnic conflict. The Tamil civilian communities in the northeast of the country paid the highest price and still today denounce , which discrimination by the authorities and the absence of a genuine process of reconciliation.
The official celebrations were held in the southern region of Matara, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa as guest of honor. In his speech, the Head of State stressed that "we are not celebrating the victory of a war, but we are celebrating peace". However, some Western diplomats including the Canadian High Commissioner declined the invitation, noting that "Sri Lanka should concentrate its attention on reconciliation".
Tamil sources in the north of the country report that the security forces and the police blocked access to many places of worship and buildings in violation of "the basic rights" of a part of the population who "could not remember loved ones who died in the war". The editor of the Uthayan newspaper in Jaffna, Saravanabavan, yesterday denounced the disruption that coincided with the celebrations. Members of the security forces "blocked access, without any explanation". He also adds that blocks and barricades were repeated throughout the day near the temple of Naguleswaram, in the north; police prevented access to the place of Hindu worship and prevented the commemoration of the victims of the conflict.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Catholic priest reports to AsiaNews that "by treating the Tamils of the North in this way, the government demonstrates that it is not at all interested" in their fate. We, too, adds the Tamil priest, should be able to enjoy "all civil liberties". He clarifies that "we do not intend to compare the two celebrations [placing commemorations in the North in opposition to the official government ones] , but it is our right to remember thousands of beloved people" who died as a result of the war .