The replacement Mullivaikkal memorial was unveiled this morning at the University of Jaffna, after it was destroyed by Sri Lankan authorities earlier this year.
On January 8, the monument which was dedicated to the tens of thousands of Tamils killed in the genocidal offensive at the end of the armed conflict in 2009, was bulldozed by Sri Lankan authorities. Jaffna University students staged a demonstration outside the university entrance that evening as the authorities toppled the monument located on the campus.
This morning, Jaffna University students laid flowers and lit candles at the replacement monument, to pay tribute to the lives lost at Mullivaikkal. The new monument has been built to be 18 feet long and 5 feet wide, to symbolise May 18, also known as 'Tamil Genocide Day'.
The new monument, however, fails to include sculptures which represented the heavy artillery bombardment by Sri Lanka, which killed tens of thousands of Tamils at the end of the armed conflict.
The destruction of the monument sparked widespread outrage across the North-East and around the world, with international politicians also condemning the act. Jaffna University students launched a hunger strike in protest against the destruction and a hartal shut down the entire North-East.
Dozens of Tamils demonstrating outside the University of Jaffna on the night of January 8
Jaffna University's Vice Chancellor S. Srisatkunarajah, initially slammed the protesters and threatened that if protesters continued with their demonstration, they would be "dealt with." The Vice-Chancellor claimed that the orders for the demolition came from "higher authorities" including Sri Lanka's defence, intelligence and education ministry.
Following the global outrage, the Vice Chancellor promised to reconstruct the memorial and work began on January 15, with the Vice Chancellor laying the foundation stone.
The Vice Chancellor was set to unveil the reconstructured monument this morning, however, he was admitted to the hospital yesterday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
The original monument was unveiled in 2019, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Mullivaikkal massacre that took place in May 2009 where tens of thousands of Tamils were killed by the Sri Lankan state. The monument was designed and constructed by students, many of whom survived the Mullivaikkal genocide and had lost family to the massacres of 2009.
The original monument after it was unveiled in 2019
At the time, the University of Jaffna Students' Union said in a statement that the destruction of a monument constructed to commemorate the victims of the Mullivaikkal massacres is "an act of denial of people's right to memory."
“The Mullivaikkal destruction was the culmination of the genocide against the Tamil people,” read the statement. “It is not simply a building made of stone or mud. Rather it is the abode of the emotions and the extension of memories of the students and the Tamil people as a whole.”
Read more of our coverage from the time: