The massacre of 53 school girls by the Sri Lankan air force was commemorated today across the Tamil homeland on the 16th anniversary of the attack.
On August 14 2006, four Sri Lankan air force jets flew over the Vanni and dropped sixteen bombs over the Sencholai children's home for orphans, killing 53 school girls and 3 teachers.
The children's home had been designated a humanitarian zone and its GPS coordinates had been passed to the Sri Lankan military via the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC).
A vigil was held at the original site of the school in Vallipunam which was attended by relatives of the school children.
The Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) also held a memorial at the arch located at the beginning of the road that leads to the Sencholai campus in Mullaitivu. A relative of one of the murdered students lit a flame while others laid flowers to remember those who were killed in the attack.
Whilst the commemorative activities took place, plainclothed Sri Lankan officers took photographs of those in attendance in an attempt to intimidate them. Sri Lanka has continuously repressed Tamil memorialisation activities in the North-East either by enforcing legal restrictions or by harassment and intimidation by the state's security forces.
Jaffna University students also held a vigil for the slain school children where they observed a minute's silence and laid flowers in remembrance of the massacre.