Hundreds of Tamils in Sri Lanka’s former war zones today for the first time openly commemorated their loved ones killed during the civil war as they marked the 6th anniversary of the end of the conflict.
Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran chaired the main commemoration event held at Vellamullivaikkal in the northeastern Mullaithivu district.
He and joined hundreds of Tamil people as they lit lamps in the honour of their war dead.
The commemoration was held even after the police obtained a magisterial order to prevent remembrance events from taking place.
Wigneswaran, however, said the court order was limited only to prevent holding of processions.
Vellamullivaikkal was the scene of the final battle on May 18, 2009.
Feared Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s body was found a day later, marking the end to the terror outfit’s nearly three decades-long fight to carve out a separate Tamil homeland.
Wigneswaran, while addressing the people at the event, said the government together with the international community must come to a decision regarding the political aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people.
“The Mullivaikkal incident left indelible marks on the collective human conscience of our people. Human rights denied, media intervention refused, it was a war without witnesses,” Wigneswaran said.
“International organisations at that time seriously alleged the use of prohibited lethal weapons in the said war. International aid disregarded, local aid such as food and medicines denied, untruths uttered as to the number of people caught up in the tragic predicament, lives of innocent women, children and infants were sacrificed on this day,” he said.
Tamils held remembrance events elsewhere in the Tamil-dominated northern and eastern provinces.
This was a marked departure from the days of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s rule under which such commemorations were disrupted by security forces in Jaffna. In other areas, the commemorations were mainly held as private events by relatives.
The UN estimates that about 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the district that includes Vellamullivaikkal.
New President Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to pursue reconciliation efforts with Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority more vigorously than Rajapaksa, who is looked upon as a hardline Sinhalese nationalist who oversaw the defeat of the LTTE.