2014-05-19 16:05:06

Sri Lanka Tamils barred from commemorating their dead ‎

May 19, 2014 - ‎While Sri Lanka held a victory parade on Sunday to mark the fifth anniversary of the ‎end of its civil war, it stopped Tamils from commemorating their war dead. Security forces in the north ‎surrounded party offices and religious sites, blocking memorial ceremonies for Tamils killed in the ‎nearly 26-year separatist war. Tens of thousands were killed in the conflict between government troops ‎and Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels. The UN has backed an inquiry into rights abuses from both sides in a ‎war in which the Tamil Tiger separatists were crushed by the army on May 18, 2009.

Troops, military planes and paragliders featured in the victory parade in Matara, in Sri Lanka's south, on ‎Sunday. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the army had brought stability and freedom to ‎Sri Lankans. "We are not celebrating victory in a war, we are celebrating peace," he said. The ceremony ‎was avoided by some Western diplomats, including the Canadian high commissioner who said Sri ‎Lanka should focus on reconciliation. The security forces, already all-pervasive in northern Sri Lanka, ‎stepped up their presence still further on Sunday, the BBC's Sri Lanka correspondent Charles Haviland ‎reported.

The National Peace Council, an activist group, said in a statement: "No wise country ‎celebrates war victory after a civil war." "Unfortunately in Sri Lanka, the political leadership... ‎continues to indulge in triumphalism celebrating the victory over the LTTE." The UN estimates that ‎between 80,000 and 100,000 people were killed in the civil war. It says it believes tens of thousands of ‎civilians were killed in the final months of the war, and that most of the deaths were caused by ‎government shelling. The government has strenuously denied such allegations and insists they are on ‎the path of reconciliation and rebuilding Sri Lanka's north.‎ (Source: BBC)

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