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Joint Statement against the Sri Lankan Government: Memorials can be destroyed, not memories

Image courtesy heartresearch.com.au.

Joint Statement against the Sri Lankan Government for the continued destruction of the people’s fundamental rights and reconciliation process!

Memorials can be destroyed, not memories

We, the undersigned hereby strongly condemn the overnight desecration of the memorial monument erected by students of the Jaffna University campus to commemorate the tens of thousands of people killed in Mullivaikal during the final phase of the war in May 2009. Laying a foundation stone and halting students’ protest are not solutions to the burning issue of memorialization. 

We would like to appeal that the monument be restored, for the demolished remains to be preserved and that the act of desecration be inscribed. Authorities do not comprehend that the sacrileges of memorials deepen the trauma and strengthen the memory. 

The Sri Lankan government erects monuments, statues and sculptures to celebrate the victory of the conflict while it desecrates monuments erected by the Tamil people to remember victims of the protracted political repression. Such desecration forbids them the fundamental right to commemorate.

Experiences teach us that desecration of monuments and destruction of the history, heritage, traces, and identities of the oppressed people are the norms of dictatorial and authoritarian governments. The incumbent Sri Lankan government is openly implementing such activities against the Tamils, Muslims and upcountry people in a systematic manner. These acts are prompted as part of a massive archaeological, cultural and heritage project that seeks to establish that the whole of Sri Lanka belongs only to the Sinhala Buddhist people.

The Sri Lankan government has a long history of desecrating monuments and statues in the country’s North and East. We have witnessed the desecration of monuments numerous times in the years before, namely the ruining of a monument erected for the victims of the last day of the World Tamil Research Conference in 1974 and setting ablaze the Jaffna public library, a historical and cultural holocaust! 

The Sri Lankan government is carrying out brutal repression of not just the Tamils but all the people of Sri Lanka. The coronavirus is being blamed for the forced cremations of deceased Muslims and Christians in defiance of their traditions and beliefs and international norms. We would like to point out with great concern that the government’s actions continue to create fear and insecurity among the Tamils, Muslims and people of upcountry. 

It is our fundamental right to remember the thousands of people unjustly massacred in the war. The Sri Lankan government, which killed those people in the war, has repeatedly denied accountability. The destruction of monuments by the state is a political, racist and hegemonic act. Without taking responsibility for international crimes and human rights violations, the government is deliberately avoiding reconciliation processes. To move forward together against this oppressive, racist state, the unity of all people and communities, oppressed in various ways, is needed. It is important for the Sinhalese people to understand the nature of the state’s national oppression. The greatest strength of oppressed Tamils, Muslims and people of upcountry would be the Sinhalese people’s moral support. 

The participation of Muslims, upcountry Tamils and like-minded Sinhalese from the South in the struggle against the desecration of the monument at the University of Jaffna shows the growing strength, solidarity, harmony and emotional comradeship among people. We firmly believe that this comradeship’s strength and continuity will be the source of hope and strength for all oppressed people. It boosts the strength to face atrocities and helps us to move forward. 

This report is compiled from comments made by writers, artists, academics, journalists and political and social activists of Sri-Lankan origin who are living in various countries on 10thJanuary 2021 through ZOOM.

ACTIVITY CENTRE FOR TAMIL LANGUAGE COMMUNITIES (ACT)

14- 01- 2021

The following people have signed the statement

  1. Cheran Rudhramoorthy – Canada – Professor

  2. M. Fauzer – UK – Activist

  3. N. Shanmugaratham – Norway – Professor

  4. Ranjith Henayaka – Germany – Activist

  5. N. Suseendran – Germany – Activist

  6. A. Charles – UK – Activist

  7. S. Najimudeen – Canada – Doctor

  8. Althaff Mohideen – UK- Academic

  9. S.Sivarajan – Germany- Activist

  10. S.SugunaSabesan – UK- Artist

  11. Uma Shanika – Germany – Activist

  12. Mohamed Nisthar – UK – Lawyer

  13. Thiru Thiruchothi – France- Activist

  14. Steven Pushparajah – Norway – Engineer

  15. MCM. Iqbal- UK – Activist

  16. Km . Ganesha – UK – Accountant

  17. Niyas A Samad – Sri Lanka – Engineer

  18. Baazir Rahman – UK – Journalist

  19. V. Sivalingam – UK – Activist

  20. Selvadurai Jeganathen – Germany – Activist

  21. Mohamed Saiful islam – Ireland – Activist

  22. Arulmala Arumynaygam – UK – Lawyer

  23. Mathavy Shivaleelan – UK – Teacher

  24. Mohamed Ariff – UK – Self Employee

  25. M.Y.M Siddeek – UK – Academic

  26. Puthiyavan Rasaiya – UK – Film Director

  27. Ajazz Mohamed – Sri Lanka – Lawyer

  28. Sam Sampanthan – UK – Activist

  29. Muise Wahabdeen – Switzerland – Activist

  30. Abdul Niyas – UK – Self Employee

  31. TLM Jemseed – UK – Accountant

  32. Ahmed Miskath – UK – Activist

  33. Anton Joseph – Germany – Activist

  34. Suthan Raj – France – Journalist

  35. Ruban Sivaraja – Norway – Engineer

  36. Abdul Razique – Sri Lanka – Self Employee

  37. SK .Vickneaswaran – Canada – Activist

  38. Balasundram – France – Activist

  39. Rajani Iqbel – UK – Activist

  40. A. Thayananthan – Netherland – Self Employee

  41. Thiva Jayabakrishan – UK – Self Employee

  42. Hakeem Aswer – Sri Lanka – Student

  43. P. Jesurathnam – UK – Activist

  44. Jifry Anver – Thailand – Self Employee

  45. Azhar Omar – Sri Lanka – Self Employee

  46. Senaka Wattegedera – Germany – Activist

  47. R. Ramesh – Sri Lanka – Self Employee

  48. Elm. Irshath – Sri Lanka – Self Employee

  49. Thambiah Thayaparan- UK- Biochemist

  50. Waffa Farook – Sri Lanka- Activist

  51. Ravi Ponnudurai- Canada- Activist

  52. Kokula Ruban – UK – Activist

  53. Padmi Liyanage – Germany – Activist

  54. Villa Anandaram- Canada- Activist

  55. Jazeel Fazy – UK – Activist

  56. Sithi Vinayaganathen – Norway – Activist

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