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Jaffna High Court rules 'public Maaveerar Naal commemorations are banned but private ones are allowed'

Jaffna High Court rejected an appeal demanding an injunction against court bans for Maaveerar Naal commemorations in Mullaitivu and Vavuniya, last week but “there is no prohibition on memorialising the fallen, individually at home,” said Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M. A. Sumanthiran.

Sumanthiran insisted that the court ruled that permission to commemorate publicly for Maaveerar Naal was refused on the grounds of “national security” but the relatives of the war victims are welcome to commemorate at their homes individually.

This is the latest in a series of moves by the Sri Lankan state to use all tools to strip Tamil citizens of their right to memory. Last week, the Mannar Magistrate Court imposed a ban on Maaveerar Naal on grounds of COVID-19 with several courts across the North-East adjudicating bans requested by the Sri Lankan police. Army Commander and accused war-criminal Shavendra Silva recently said he would ‘quarantine’ anyone and sanction them with legal if they proceeded to memorialise Maaveerar Naal publicly.  

The Sri Lankan military has also been deployed to prevent and intrude any preparations ahead of the remembrance day. Army troops interrupted, vandalised and interrogated Tamil civilians and politicians across the homeland as soon as preparations got underway and enforced roadblocks on private land where Thuyillum Illam’s are placed. A few days, Tamil families of the disappeared asserted families' rights to remember their war dead and insisted that “No one can stop individuals from participating in the remembrance. The mothers will also commemorate in the same way.”

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