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Military mass wedding: "Rehabilitation rendered a publicity stunt"

Jun 13, 2010 7:09:34 PM- transcurrents.com

"Freedom when?" was what many at the "wedding ceremony" asked according to BBC Sandeshaya and tweets remarked the military marriage of militants "hugely oversteps ethical boundaries".


The ceremony attracted widespread media coverage. Reports say the mass wedding was held under heavy military presence and future for the newly-weds remains uncertain:

from TweetsTrove:

- the 'happy couples' sure look like they're enjoying the ceremony. rehabilitation rendered a publicity stunt.

- #srilanka state-arranged #marriage of captured militants still in detention hugely oversteps ethical boundaries

And Reuters put out a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUQQw4Hg3hA

Report by Sandeshaya:

The Sri Lankan military has organised a mass wedding of more than fifty couples suspected to be from the Tamil Tiger rebel group at a ceremony in Vavunia.

Suspected former rebels are being held at a military-run camp following their defeat by government forces in May last year.

Sri Lankan army says many of the couples had been unable to marry earlier because they were fighting in the civil war.

"Freedom when?"

A BBC correspondent who attended the event says many now want to know when they will be freed from military custody.

The mass wedding was held under heavy military presence.

The director general in charge of rehabilitation, Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe said that the newly weds will be housed in a designated village.

"Arrangements have been made for their relatives to visit them," added Brigadier Ranasinghe.

More than ten-thousand Tamil Tiger rebels, who surrendered following the defeat of Tamil Tigers in May last year, are under military custody in northern Sri Lanka.

Excerpts from the report by Guardian UK:

Ravichandra Rasikeshara, 26, married another former fighter, 22-year-old Thaksarani.

"We don't want an Eelam [a separate state]. We want freedom and a happy family life," Ravichandra, who worked as a paramedic for the LTTE, said.

The witness for the marriages was Indian film star Vivek Oberoi who had come came to Sri Lanka for an Indian film awards ceremony earlier this month and visited the camp at the government's invitation.

The future for the newly-weds remains uncertain. Sivapathasundaram Kavithas, 29, had been a fighter for nine years and had met his wife Bhavani, 28, a fighter for 12 years, when they went for weapons training together.

Kavithas said he was pleasantly surprised that his marriage was formalised but said he still longed for freedom from the camp to look after his sister who lives alone. Their parents and two brothers were killed in the last stages of the fighting, he said.

"We will live the same restricted life, the difference is we will be living together again," said Bhavani.

The couples will be provided with separate tents . Few will be going on honeymoon in the near future. Nearly 3,000 of the 11,000 former Tigers detained at the war's end have now been released but Brigadier Ranasinghe said "a little bit more rehabilitation work" was needed before those married yesterday could go free.