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A new (cultural) campaign in Vanni

A new campaign against the Tamils is underway against the Tamils in the Vanni, with the Sinhalisation of the area underway on a massive scale.

The Sri Lanka Army has put up new name boards in Sinhala language only with new Sinhala names for many road junctions and streets in Mullaiththeevu district, reports said.

 

As Tamil signs disappear in northern Sri Lanka, those in Sinhalese go up, reported those who had been allowed into the areas.

 

The provinces of northern Sri Lanka “are undergoing a different kind of attack, not military, but cultural and religious this time. They are faced with the ‘Sinhalisation’ of the area,” Rukshan Fernando told AsiaNews.

 

The human rights activist and director of the Law and Society Trust just completed a tour of the provinces of Vanni and Killinochi.

 

“A first example and one that might appear trivial but isn’t so is road signs. Tamil language signs have disappeared; everything now is in Sinhalese. The military claim that Tamil terms are too long and complicated and that’s that. Place names are in both languages, but the one in Sinhalese comes first. What is more, beside the usual and accepted Sinhalese names, signs also mention older Sinhalese names in an attempt to show that these lands are Sinhalese lands,” he cited a a Tamil priest as telling him.

 

The Sri Lanka Army, besides erecting special camps and High Security Zones in strategic places in Mullaiththeevu, is engaged in changing the entire district like any other typical Sinhalese area in the country, sources in Vanni told TamilNet.

 

A junction in Oddichuddaan, where the road from Puththukkudiyiruppu meets Mullaiththeevu-Maangkulam road, has been given the Sinhala name, ‘Kaar Handiya’, meaning ‘car junction’. The name had been given as many cars had been set ablaze at this junction by the Sri Lankan army during the war, local soldiers said.

 

Meanwhile, the road which branches off Mullaiththeevu-Maangkulam road to Puthukkudiyiruppu through Vattaappazhai and Keapaapilavu, close to the Nanththikkadal (Nanthi Lagoon) Bridges has been named, ‘Ali Hanthiya’, ‘Elephant Junction’, because an elephant had died at the junction, according to the soldiers at the junction.

 

The junction adjoining Thaanthontri Easvaran Koayil (Temple of Lord Siva) at Oddichuddaan junction where the road from Maangkulam to Mullaiththeevu, is met by the road from Nedungkeani is given the new Sinhala name, ‘Pilima Hanthiya’, meaning ‘Statue Junction’.

 

Soldiers stationed at the site said that a Buddha statue is to be soon erected at this junction and hence the Sinhala name, ‘Pilima Junction’, reported TamilNet.

 

Soldiers are also (re)building Buddhist temples whilst allowing Christian churches and Hindu temples to lay in ruin even though most locals belong to these two religions.

 

The attempt to change local history and society “also involves religion. In the city of Killinochi, for example, a large arch was put up, saying ‘May Buddhism shine’.” Yet, most people in the area are either Hindus or Christians,” Fernando told AsiaNews.

 

“Buddhist temples have been rebuilt and are spotless, whereas the places of worship of other religions are not allowed to do the same. And the difference is clearly visible since soldiers are involved in the work at Buddhist sites,” he said.

 

Former Jaffna MP Selvaraja Kajendren had said in the first week of May that the Sri Lankan government has planned a large Buddhist Vihara at the entrance of Mullaiththeevu town at Karaichchikkudiyiruppu, 150 meters near the Kachcheari building.

 

The Buddhist Vihara is planned to be raised in state-owned land, with the papers submitted to the District Secretariat of Mullaiththeevu seeking permission to construct the Vihara.

 

The campaign also includes monument building.

 

“Soldiers are building all sorts of monument hailing the victory of the government and the army over the Tamil Tigers. For locals, they are a symbol of their domination, also because no one is allowed to build anything to commemorate Tamil war dead,” Fernando said.

 

The government is spending millions in construction of the Buddhist temple and in constructing at least two memorial sites for Sri Lanka Army commanders killed in action, while the Tamil civilians are not provided with meaningful aid for resettlement, Kajendren told the media.

 

Meanwhile, Sinhalese settlers are being brought to coastal strips of Mullaiththeevu district, reported TamilNet, citing local informed sources.

 

Separately, buses carrying around two thousand Buddhist priests under heavy escort took a sacred statue of Buddha on a pilgrimage to Jaffna.

 

The priests, on their “urgent mission to spread Buddhism in the North”, engaged in unannounced opening ceremonies for Buddhist Viharas newly erected in the Vanni, reported TamilNet.

 

Meanwhile, Northern Province Governor, Major Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri had directed government heads in the North to make arrangements to cater to the needs of the priests passing through. Accordingly, some of the schools along this route have been hastily prepared to accommodate the pilgrims.

 

The Governor had also directed the heads of government to widen and renovate all the main roads that lead to Buddhist religious sites in the peninsula.

 

Meanwhile, an academic from Jaffna commenting said that the aim of this feverish engagement in spreading Buddhism in the North by Colombo includes the construction of Sinhala-Buddhist stupas in the heart of the Tamil homeland paving way for islands of Sinhala-Buddhist colonies protected by military.

 

This will go hand in hand with the ‘development’ projects aiming to open the conquered territory to the conquerors and eventually the change of demography so that Tamils can never fight for their national rights in the island, he pointed out.

 

Temporally and spiritually it is a heritage genocide: to make Eelam Tamils feel that their homeland doesn’t belong to them, they are historically inferior ‘intruders’, they have no claims for their nationalism and as long as they exist as Tamils they cannot be equals, he added.

 

Meanwhile, the extreme Sinhala nationalist Jathika Hella Urumaya (JHU) had to elect a new leader as the former head, Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera, had resigned from the post as he needed more time to devote on his pet subjects of archaeological research in Mullaiththeevu.