(All photos: Sri Lanka Army)
The Sri Lankan military continues to involve itself in activities involving school children and their education, across the Tamil regions in the North-East of the island.
Soldiers from regiments which stand accused of commiting mass atrocities, stationed in Batticaloa, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, organised several activities in the last few weeks, involving young school children, despite Sri Lanka's foreign minister, Mangala Samaraweera, telling delegates gathered at a conference in Washington last week that "involvement of the military in civilian activities has ceased".
Troops from the Special Forces Regiment, based in Kilinochchi organised a trip to Colombo from February 11-12, for 37 children from Kanagapuram Central School to visit a photographic exhibition about the military, also taking them to a Buddhist stupa in the Viharamahadevi Park, named after Sinhala king Dutugamenu’s mother.
Members of the Sinha Regiment and Gajaba Regiment, also from Kilinochchi, distributed toys to pupils from the Mulankavil National School on February 3.
In Vaakarai, Batticaloa, the 233rd Brigade, based in Poonani, cleared the grounds of the town’s Maha Vidyalaya Tamil school on 5 February, with the participation of 50 school children.
On February 8, the same brigade also organised the distribution of educational accessories to 71 pupils from the Vigneswara School in Kathiraveli, Batticaloa.
Major General Jagath Dias, the commander of the Security Forces Headquarters - Mullativu, was chief guest at an event on January 20, where the 68th Division donated school accessories to 85 students who passed Grade 5 examinations in the district.
The commander was last year refused entry into Australia over his role in the final stages of the armed conflict and allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The military's ongoing involvement in Tamil affairs almost 6 years after the end of the armed conflict has been widely condemned by Tamil politicians and activists, with numerous calls for the new president, Maithripala Sirisena to demilitarise the North-East.
Sri Lanka military hands out chickens in Kilinochchi (14 Jan 2015)
Military recruits Tamil youths to work in army farm (14 Jan 2015)
Sri Lankan army distribute uniforms to Jaffna school children (14 February 2015)