The People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) expressed their concern over Sri Lanka's intensifying crackdown of Tamils' right to remember across the North-East, in a statement today.
"This is a disturbing escalation in the state's repression of Tamil memorialisation. We condemn the aggressive intimidation from Sri Lankan authorities of those involved in organising commemoration events and stand in solidarity with those resisting this renewed abuse of legal processes and COVID-19 restrictions," the organisation said.
Over the last week, there have been a series of court orders issued across the North-East prohibiting public commemorative events organised to mark Maaveerar Naal which falls on November 27.
"While COVID-19 restrictions are used as a pretext to justify the bans, the continued targeting of individuals engaged in benign acts of remembrance, such as the use of red and yellow flags and banners, reveal the government's intent to suppres Tamil memorialisation activities for what they are - acts of defiant remembrance and resistance to the majoritarian narrative," PEARL added.
Earlier this week, Sri Lankan police issued a restraining order to Tamil families of the disappeared. The police warned the families that commemorations in violation of the restraining order will result in immediate arrest.
PEARL highlighted that this "feeds into the wider pattern of intimidation and harassement of the Tamil families of the disappeared, who protests have continued to irk authorities and garner attention to the issue of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka."
"Unimpeded memorialisation is inextricably linked to healing and honouring those lost in the war, and has been one of the fundamental demands of the Tamil people post-2009," they added.
PEARL has called on the international community "to send an unequivocal message that banning Maaveerar Naal commemorations is an unacceptable transgression of Tamils' right to remember."