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Tamil civil society hold Mullivaikkaal memorial event with restrictions after varied court order

Hundreds of people attended a memorial event organised by Tamil civil society marking 8 years since the slaughter of thousands at Mullivaikkaal, after a court order banning the event was varied earlier in the day restricting it to occuring inside of St. Paul's church grounds. 

The remembrance event took place at St. Paul's Church in Mullivaikkaal, with relatives of the massacred laying flowers and rocks with the names of their dead loved ones before three makeshift graves.

Earlier in the day, a Sri Lankan judge ruled that commemoration events could not take place in an area across from the church grounds where Tamil civil society activists had set up a display with items gathered from Mullivaikkaal beach, a commemorative statue and a number of the engraved rocks.

The decision varying the original order prohibiting the memorial event came after Tamil civi society activists argued a motion challenging the order in the Mullaitivu Magistrate's Court on the morning of May 18. Sri Lankan police had obtained the court order banning the event the evening before on May 17, plastering posters of the order on the display and on signs nearby. Sri Lankan police vans had also driven around the area, announcing that the event was not allowed to commence.

However, following submissions made by Mr. Guruparan Kumaravadivel on behalf of Tamil civil society, and the Mullaitivu Police Headquarters Inspector, the order was varied, allowing the event to take place within the church premises only but prohibiting any commemoration from taking place within the display set up with a statute and engraved rocks across from the church.

As Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department officials in civilian clothing looked on, hundreds came forward to pay their respects to the dead. A number of the rocks with names of those who died at Mullivaikkaal in 2009 which were on the church grounds and thus not prohibited by the judge's court order, were laid before the makeshift graves.

Plainclothes CID officers watch over proceedings from a distance at Mullivaikkaal

The ceremony was followed by a mass prayer inside the church.