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Buddhist monk cremated next to Tamil massacre memorial and Hindu temple despite widespread opposition

The cremation of a Buddhist monk, led by Sri Lankan army and police forces, in a location adjacent to both a memorial for Tamil massacre victims and a Hindu temple has caused anger in Jaffna.

Despite public opposition and widespread condemnation from local organisations, the last rites of the Chief monk of the Jaffna Nagavihara were held in the in the vicinity of the World Tamil Conference Massacre memorial and the Muneeswaran temple, on the outskirts of the Jaffna fort.

A petition to ban the cremation was dismissed by Jaffna Magistrates court, with the Sri Lankan police arguing that a ban would lead to a breach of peace. The police said  they had permission from the Archaeology Department, to which the land belongs.

One cultural organisation which opposed the cremation at the specific location said that the decision was offensive to Tamils.

“As well as degrading the memory of those who lost their lives in the World Tamil Conference massacre, the decision to hold a cremation next to a Hindu temple goes against our local conventions,” the organisation said.

“We do not oppose paying tribute to the monk or to carrying out his last rites. We just condemn performing his rites in such a sensitive location.”

The organisation also expressed concern that holding the funeral in that location would be a pretext for building a vihara in the monk’s name and generating further Sinhalisation of the area.

Several Tamil politicians including Sritharan MP, the Northern Provincial Council chair C. V. K. Sivagnanam and NPC member M. K. Sivajilingam, condemned the funeral being carried out at the location.

Hundreds of soldiers were engaged in preparations for the funeral, including decking the streets of Jaffna in orange flags and other Buddhist insignia.

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