Tamils across the North-East held various events in the homeland to mark the 35th anniversary since Lt Col. Thileepan’s began his hunger strike in Jaffna, demanding the Indian government honour the pledges made to the Tamil people.
Thileepan, a political wing leader of the LTTE, began his fast on September 15, 1987, with 100,000 people gathered around the historic Nallur Kandwaswamy Temple in Jaffna.
Several events took place across Tamil Eelam to mark the occasion.
In Nallur, the site of his fast, several hundred people gathered to lay flowers before the now destroyed Thileepan memorial. Though the Sri Lankan military destroyed the monument that stood there, Tamils have continued to revere the site.
Lighting the remembrance flame and garlanding a portrait of Thileepan first was the mother of Captain Pandithar, one of the earliest members of the LTTE who lost his life during a clash with the Sri Lankan army in 1985 near Avarangal, Jaffna.
At the University of Jaffna, students lined the campus with red and yellow flags as they held a commemorative event, laying flowers before a portrait of Thileepan.
In Amparai, the Tamil National People’s Front commenced a march to mark Thileepan’s fast from Pottuvil in the East to Jaffna in the North.
At the ITAK office in Kilinochchi, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian Shritharan was amongst other party members and officials who paid tribute to Thileepan’s sacrifice.
Another commemoration event was also held in Velanai.
The Velanai Divisional Council also held a commemoration for Thileepan. The event was boycotted by the government-linked EPDP party.
In Mullaitivu, as Tamils gathered signatures for a campaign against Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), they lit candles to commemorate Thileepan.
Thileepan put forward five demands to the Indian government:
1) All Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be released.
2) The colonisation by Sinhalese in Tamil areas under the guise of rehabilitation should be stopped.
3) All such rehabilitation should be stopped until an interim government is formed.
4) The Sri Lankan government should stop opening new Police stations and camps in the North-eastern province.
5) The Sri Lankan army and Police should withdraw from schools in Tamil villages and the weapons given by the Sri Lankan government to ‘homeguards’ should be withdrawn under the supervision of the Indian army.
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