Anti-govt protesters from Sri Lanka's Sinhala majority mourn Tamil victims of civil war

PTI | Colombo | Updated: 18-05-2022 17:59 IST | Created: 18-05-2022 17:59 IST
Anti-govt protesters from Sri Lanka's Sinhala majority mourn Tamil victims of civil war
  • Country:
  • Sri Lanka

For the first time, hundreds of anti-government protesters from Sri Lanka's majority Sinhala community in the country's south on Wednesday mourned the Tamil civilians, rebels and government soldiers killed in the final stages of the three-decade long brutal civil war that ended 13 years ago.

On May 18, 2009, the three decade-long bloody separatist campaign led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to establish a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern province of the island nation came to an end with the killing of the LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabakaran by the Sri Lankan Army in Mullaithviu’s Vellamulivaikkal.

Every year on May 18, while the armed forces celebrate the war victory, the Tamils mourn their dead during the final phase of the conflict.

The anti-government protesters who are on the 40th day of their protest demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gathered outside his office and prayed for all those who died in the civil war, including Tamils civilians, Tamil rebels and government soldiers.

''On May 18 we gather to remember and mourn all those who died, were killed and were disappeared in the war,'' said a statement from the organisers.

It added that May 18 is ''to remember the thousands of Tamils elderly men women and children who were caught in a thin strip of land in Mullaivaikkal during the last stages of war and underwent untold suffering”.

The Tamils allege that thousands were massacred during the final stages of the war that ended in 2009, a charge the Sri Lankan Army denies.

At least 40,000 Tamil civilians may have been killed in just the final months of the civil war, according to a UN report.

The Buddhist, Hindu and Catholic priests participated in the memorial.

The participants shared porridge which they said was the life saving food for the Tamils as they struggled in the midst of shelling and bombing.

Dharmalingam Siddhathan, a Tamil legislator from the north, said that today was the first occasion when Tamil victims were publicly commemorated in the capital.

In Parliament, Shanakiyan Rasamanickam, a parliamentarian from the eastern district of Batticaloa, said the police in Batticaloa had not allowed the memorial events there.

In the north, the army wouldn't allow memorials claiming they are meant to commemorate the LTTE, a banned terrorist outfit.

The army marked the day with ‘Victory Day’ events. The current commander of the army, who was one of the battle commanders during the final stages of the war with LTTE, said some 396 officers and 8110 other rankers have been promoted with effect from today as part of the ‘Victory Day’ celebrations.

Sinhalese, mostly Buddhist, make up nearly 75 per cent of Sri Lanka's 22 million population while Tamils are 15 per cent.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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