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Soldiers turned handymen: Sri Lanka’s ongoing militarisation of Tamil schools 

The Sri Lankan army announced that it had helped repair the roof of a Tamil primary school in Mullaitivu, as criticism over its involvement in civilian activities continues. 

Troops from the 23 Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR) of the 642 Brigade carried out the construction work at the Kathaliyar Sammanamkulam G.T.M School in Mullaitivu. 

“Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera, GOC, 64 Division supervised the entire project,” reported an official military website. 

The latest project by the military in civil affairs comes as Sri Lanka continues to bear criticism over the massive presence of the armed forces in the North-East. A recent report by a UN Special Rapporteur highlights the “large, imposing, presence of the military” and its continued involvement in civilian activities in the region as “perpetuating the resentment and disenfranchisement felt by the Tamil community as a whole”. 

Despite Sri Lankan government pledges to demilitarise the North-East and repeated calls from Tamils for this pledge to be fulfilled, the Sri Lankan military presence continues. The Mullaitivu district has as many as 1 soldier for every 2 civilians, according to a report released by the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research and PEARL last year.