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Militarisation continues in Jaffna as soldiers give handouts to Tamil children and women

Despite ongoing criticism of their involvement in civilian affairs in the North-East, the Sri Lankan military responded to flooding in Jaffna, by photographing soldiers giving handouts to Tamil children and women in the region.

Troops of 51, 52 and 55 Infantry Divisions mobilized in Jaffna in response to widespread flooding, reported the Sri Lankan army. Soldiers evacuated affected residents, provided relief items, cleared waterways, and managed traffic, which the army had showcased on its official website (see here and here).

Despite twelve years having passed since the end of the armed, the Sri Lankan army continues to take over various functions of civilian life in the North-East, with one study reporting as many as one soldier for every two civilians.

On Friday, a Tamil youth was rushed to hospital in critical condition after his motorcycle collided with another vehicle at an army checkpoint in Mullaitivu. The continuation of these checkpoints has become a hallmark of Sri Lanka’s militarised occupation of the North-East which locals have long complained of the inconvenience and danger caused by the checkpoints on busy intersections. Whilst the armed and masked soldiers constantly intimidate and harass Tamil commuters.

Earlier in June, self-isolating families in Mannar were pushed to the brink of starvation as the Sri Lankan government failed to provide the delivered COVID-19 relief items. Sri Lanka’s coronavirus response, Amnesty International slammed as discriminatory, is led by accused war criminal, and army commander, Shavendra Silva. Silva served as the commander of the 58th division during Sri Lanka’s military offensive in 2009 which stands accused of executing surrendering Tamils, sexual violence and the deliberate shelling of hospitals.

Ahead of Maaveerar Naal, the Sri Lankan military surveilled the homes and harassed family members of fallen LTTE cadres in Kilinochchi and Thirunagar, whilst, dozens of activists and politicians from across Tamil parties were targeted by the state and banned from participating in commemoration events.

By normalising wider patterns of militarisation of the Tamil homeland, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, raised her concerns over the increasing “surveillance, intimidation and judicial harassment of human rights defenders, journalists, and families of the disappeared" by state officials.

Read more here.

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