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'Don't trample on our saints!' - Tamil families demand Sri Lankan army to release occupied LTTE cemetery

A protest was held at Theravil Thuyilum Illam calling on the Sri Lankan authorities to remove their military base which was built over the cemetery for Tamil fighters.

Tamil protesters gathered at Theravil Thuyilum Illam in Mullaitivu which is currently occupied by the SLNG Regiment. The occupation blocks Tamils from accessing the land to pay their respects to their loved ones who are buried there.  

They held placards that read: "Let us worship", "Let us see our loved ones". 

Following the end of the armed conflict, the Sri Lankan military destroyed the Thuyilum Illams across the North-East, bulldozing over the thousands of gravestones dedicated to the Tamil fighters who gave their lives in the struggle for liberation. 

A Tamil child holds a placard that reads: "Let us see our father's headstone"

Protesters chanted "Don't trample, don't trample on our saints" and "let us light lamps, lets us light lamps for our children". 

One Tamil mother said: 

"First they [the Sri Lankan army] killed all the Tamils, then destroyed all the gravestones in the Thuyilum Illams and now they're occupying the land. For the last 14 years we haven't been able to light lamps in the Thuyilum Illam. For the last five years, we've been paying our respects next to the Thuyilum Illam. This year, we need to light lamps for our children inside the Thuyilum Illam. This is what is important for us. The army must leave!" 

TNA MP S Shritharan said that "in September 2015 Sri Lanka told the international community that they will give Tamils the space to remember. However, Tamil families are still not able to light lamps and place flower garlands for their loved ones."

Each year on Maaveerar Naal, Tamils gather at the Thuyilum Illams across the North-East to commemorate the fallen fighters despite Sri Lanka's attempts to repress memorialisation activities. 

Since the beginning of the month, preparations have been underway at Theravil Thuyilum Illam and across other sites in the homeland as the Tamil nation prepares to mark Maaveerar Naal on November 27. 






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