Thousands of Tamil Civilians Killed During War in May 2009 Commemorated at Mullivaaikkaal; Victims Remembered at Galle Face Green in Multi- ethnic event with Moving Speeches made in Sinhala, Tamil and English; ”Kanji” (porridge) Distributed in Coconut shells.

By Meera Srinivasan

Scores of people on Wednesday gathered in Mullivaikkal village, in Sri Lanka’s northern Mullaitivu district, to remember the tens of thousands of Tamil civilians who were brutally killed in the final stages of the civil war in May 2009, when the armed forces crushed the LTTE.

Simultaneously, dozens came together expressing solidarity in a rare public remembrance event in capital Colombo, at Galle Face, the ocean front where citizens’ groups are protesting for 40 days now, asking President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit over the economic crisis stifling the country.

Although small, the commemoration in Colombo assumed significance, amid sharp divisions in how the Sinhala-majority south and Tamil majority north perceive the civil war’s end.

While the UN has recorded at least 40,000 civilian deaths in the final stages of the war, many in the island’s south are yet to confront hard questions about the Sri Lankan military’s alleged human rights abuses at the time, that too targeting civilians reportedly directed to a ‘No fire zone’. Their popular narrative conflates the LTTE with Tamil civilians, hails soldiers as “heroes” for crushing the outfit, and celebrates the end of the war as the military’s “victory”.

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