Sri Lanka Tamils war memorial halted

Roadblocks stop parade: troops guard Hindu temples
Sri Lanka Tamils war memorial halted

Only the government's own victory celebration marked the fifth anniversary of end of the war reporter, Colombo
Sri Lanka
May 19, 2014
Sri Lankan troops prevented Tamils from commemorating the five-year anniversary of the end of the civil war on Sunday after the army warned that only the government's official victory parade would be allowed to take place.

Tamil communities in the north said that soldiers blocked thoroughfares along which they had planned to march in commemoration of the four-decade conflict, which left more than 100,000 people dead. A heavy troop presence was also seen outside Hindu temples and political party offices in the war-scarred north of the island.

One man, Thurairaasa Ravigaran, a member of the Tamil National Alliance Northern Provincial Council, said he had tried to distribute school material and shoes for pupils to mark the occasion but was denied.

“Reconciliation is a dream and widows struggle to survive with their children and they have been ignored by the government,” he said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said prior to the event that only the government’s victory should be celebrated. 

“Nobody wants to remember and pay homage to those who were killed by the LTTE [opposition Tamil Tiger army]. Some governments are blind, deaf and dumb. They are opposed to our celebrating this victory."

Staff and students from Jaffna University, which was forced to close during the May 16 to 21 commemoration days, said they had received death threats warning them not to commemorate the war dead.

One man told AFP that the main state-run blood bank had refused to accept donations for fear of being linked to remembrance of war victims.

President Rajapaksa has stubbornly refused to bow to demands that he allow an international investigation into the army’s conduct in the final stages of the war against the LTTE in which some 40,000 people were believed to have been killed. Rajapaksa has been accused of orchestrating war crimes.

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