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Pon. Sivakumaran remembered in Jaffna

Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran, the first Tamil to die in the liberation struggle was remembered in his hometown of Urumpirai, Jaffna today, on the 43rd anniversary of his death.

The memorial service at Pon. Sivakumaran’s statue in Urumpirai was attended by Tamil parliamentarians and provincial representatives, as well as Sivakumaran’s family members and other locals. A memorial service was also held later in the day by members of the Tamil National People's Front.

In 1974, years of discrimination and oppression of the Tamil nation reached a new stage when the World Tamil Research Conference of 1974, an acclaimed event that appreciated and furthered Tamil culture, was marred by the brutality of Sri Lankan security forces. The Sri Lankan state was angered after organisers defied Sri Lankan government calls to hold the event in Colombo, and held it in Jaffna between the 3rd - 6th January instead. The violence unleashed by the state’s forces at the event, left nine people dead.

Despite several months and widespread out-pouring of Tamil grief and anger at the event, the killings were met with impunity. With no justice or accountability for the crimes in sight, Sivakumaran along with other Tamil youth looked to assassinate individuals alleged to be responsible for the deaths at the World Tamil Research Conference.

However, on 5th June, Sivakumaran was surrounded by Sri Lankan security forces. Evading torture, Sivakumaran committed suicide using a capsule of cyanide, in order to negate the risk of revealing information that jeopardised the growing Tamil armed resistance movement. He had previously been tortured during an earlier detention in police custody for damaging property of those responsible for the conference killings.

(from Tamil Guardian, 2013)