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Crackdown and destruction in the East ahead of Maaveerar Naal


Headstones at Vaharai Thuyilum Illam have been demolished and Tamil activists have been harrassed as Sri Lanka intensifies its crackdown on Maaveerar Naal in the Eastern province. 

Tamil youth had made preparations at Vaharai Thuyilum Illam by arranging the previously destroyed headstones, erecting red and yellow flags and fences ahead of Maaveerar Naal. 

Photos from the Thuyilum Illam show the previously destroyed headstones smashed into smaller pieces while the fences were demolished. 

Thuyilum Illams - resting places - were built across the North-East by the LTTE in the 1990s. Thuyilum Illams were destroyed both during the armed conflict and later bulldozed over by the Sri Lankan state following the Tamil genocide in 2009. In some areas, the Sri Lankan army have built over them and set up their army bases.

While all of the Thuyilum Illams have been destroyed by Sri Lanka, families of fallen cadres still gather there on Maaveerar Naal to remember their loved ones in spite of intimidation by the state. 

In Vellavelly, Batticaloa, Crusaders for Democracy party leader, N Nagules, was taken away by Sri Lankan police for an "investigation" while he was attending an event dedicated to honouring Maaveerar families. 

Throughout Maaveerar remembrance week, several similar events have taken place in the North-East to honour the parents and relatives of fallen LTTE cadres and pay tribute to the sacrifices they made for the liberation of the Tamil people. 

Meanwhile in Thandiyadi, Batticaloa, a Sri Lankan police officer disrupted another event honouring the relatives of fallen LTTE cadres, in which Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) MP Selvarajah Kajendren was present. 

"What is the problem with giving gifts to the people," Kajendren said to the police officer. 

When the police officer said there was no problem, Kajendren questioned his presence at the event. 

"So then why are you here? Why are you at an event where we are giving gifts? There cannot be one law for Tamils and another for the Sinhalese. It is because we Tamil, you think we're lower than you," Kajendren added. 

Earlier this week, Muttur Magistrate court issued a prohibition order to 17 individuals, including TNPF leader and MP, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Selvarajah Kajendran, prohibiting them from conducting Maaveerar Naal commemorative eventsin Trincomalee.

The court order was issued after Sambur police filed a complaint after preparations were being made at Sambur Alankulam Thuyilum Illam. 

While Magistrate courts in the Northern Province have granted permission for Maaveerar Naal commemorations to take place, Sri Lankan police have continued in their attempts to repress any memorialisation activities. Yesterday, four Sri Lankan police officers collected the personal details of Tamils at Uduthurai Thuyilum Illam as they cleared the cemetery in the lead up to Maaveerar Naal. 

Maaveerar Naal - or Great Heroes Day - remembers those who sacrificed their lives in the Tamil liberation struggle, and is marked on November 27, in memory of the first death of a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam cadre, Lt Col. Shankar who died in combat on November 27, 1982.

Although the Sri Lankan state tries to repress commemorations in the lead up to and on Maaveerar Naal, Tamils across the North-East defiantly hold events to pay their respects for the fallen. 











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