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Monday, December 11, 2023

Sri Lanka: Memorialisation is part of the reconciliation process – National Peace Council

Image: Eastern Uni students observed Mullivaaikaal commemoration inside campus premises on 18th May. @garikaalan.

(NPC) The court injunction against a commemoration in Mullivaikkal in the North of those who lost their loved ones in the last battle of the war on May 18 highlights a problem that needs resolution. In the South the government commemorated the security forces personnel who lost their lives in the war.

The police sought the court order to block the commemorative event organized by a civil society group led by Fr Elil Rajendram that sought to memorialize those who lost their lives in the last battle of the war by placing stones with the names of those who lost their lives.  At present the Mullivaikkal area, where the last battle of the war was fought, is without any monument to remember those who died there.  

For the parents and family members of fallen LTTE cadre and others who lost their lives during the war, they would still be their kith and kin whom they wish to remember.  All persons and communities have a right to cry and grieve for family and community members killed, to erect monuments, privately and publicly, individually and collectively. For many families and friends whose loved ones were killed, this is a way to heal their painful past and move towards the future.

 The government needs to deal with the problem that there is no memorial or monument in Mullivaikkal for those who lost their lives in the last battles.  There is a need for such a memorial and the government should not prevent the people who lost their lives from having such a memorial.  There are memorials put up by the government to honor the security forces who lost their lives in the North. The National Peace Council calls on the government to take a step forward in the reconciliation process and engage with both elected representatives in the North and East and with civil society groups to jointly design an appropriate memorial.

We also wish to express our concern at the treatment meted out to Fr Elil Rajendram who was one of the main organizers of the commemoration event.  Fr Elil received summons from both the Vavuniya and Mullaitivu police stations. This would most likely be to harass and intimidate him and also to send a message to the other activists that the same could happen to them too.

Such intimidatory methods were used during the period of the previous government and were rejected by the people at the last elections.  We urge the government to be true to its pledges of good governance and protection of human rights even when it deals with politically controversial matters.


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