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Military on cemetery: ‘Any religion, race or ethnicity has the right to have a place on earth, w...

Mar 9, 2011 6:09:18 PM- transcurrents.com

Jaffna, a new military command built on Tamil cemetery

by Melani Manel Perera

Residents do not react, afraid of possible retaliation. A Catholic Tamil activist calls the government action "humiliating".

Colombo (AsiaNews) - A cemetery of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) in Koapai (north of Jaffna) has been demolished and a new military command of the 51st Division of the National Armed Forces built in its place , inaugurated on March 4 last. The local residents have called this government move "unjustifiable" and "scandalous", but nobody wanted to say more for fear of threats and retaliation. The opening was held in the presence of Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Army, and Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe.

The human rights activist Anthony Jesudasan, Catholic Tamil co-ordinator of the People to People Dialogue on Peace and Sustainable Development, told AsiaNews: "This is very humiliating. True, they were terrorists, but they are still human beings. " "A cemetery - continues the activist - is the ultimate place for every man. Any religion, race or ethnicity has the right to have a place on earth, where they can rest in peace."

The Tamil Tigers, a militarized separatist group, were involved since 1983 in a long conflict against the central government for the creation of an independent state in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. After a brief truce, thanks to the mediation of Norway, reached in 2001, in 2008 the fighting re-ignited. The civil war ended in 2009. Since then, the government claims to promote reconciliation between ethnic Tamils and Sinhalese.

Jesudasan defines the demolition a "dictatorial" act. He asks, "What kind of peace and reconciliation, is the government trying to show the Tamil residents of the area? It seems it's trying to fuel anger and enmity in the minds of these people rather than heal the wounds."

M.K. Shivajilingam, political opposition party Tamil National Liberation Alliance (Tnla) is of the same opinion and estimates the cemetery contained at least 2 thousand corpses.

On the website of the Ministry of Defence of Sri Lanka, there is no reference to the demolished Tamil cemetery. ~ courtesy: AsiaNews.it ~