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Sri Lanka celebrates Mullivaikkal anniversary with military parade as Tamils grieve

The Sri Lankan government held a military parade on Tuesday to celebrate six years since the end of the armed conflict when government forces defeated the Tamil armed resistance movement, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Regiments from all four arms of the security forces, including the air force, navy, military and the police, took part in parades in the southern city of Matara.

The Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, the prime minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe and other senior government figures including the former president, Chandrika Kumaratunge, and the former Army General who oversaw the military offensive in 2008 to 2009 were also present.

Last week the new government, pledging to ensure reconciliation between the Sinhalese and Tamils, renamed the day from 'Victory Day' to 'Armed Forces Day'.

As the Sinhalese people celebrates however, Tamils in the North-East held memorial events across the North-East, grieving for dead or missing loved ones. See here for full coverage of Tamil remembrance events.

“We never let the brutal terrorism to be arisen in this country again. We will strengthen the process for development and reconciliation. We have kept foremost trust and honor on the tri-forces and leading security divisions. We must clearly state that we will take every possible step to strengthen the military service and to create a suitable environment to work by providing ample physical and human resources to the armed forces especially, when it come to the National Security,” President Sirisena said during this address at the event.

"Extremist groups which attempt to create disharmony among the communities exists in our country, as well as in other countries. In keeping with State Policy, we will take steps to strengthen the National Security and the Tri Forces by providing all the necessary resources to fulfill your duties and responsibilities, while, refuting and rejecting false propaganda of extremist groups," he added.

"We cannot fulfill our expectations for reconciliation only through development. The reconciliation process includes investigating the truth, carrying out justice, eliminating the fear and mistrust and building trust among every community and re-building physical resources which were devastated by the armed conflict. Hence, with the experience of the war, we must understand the requirement of priority for the reconciliation process."

"As I mentioned before, all must unite for development and reconciliation in the country. We must all carry out our responsibilities together to defend the unitary status and territorial integrity on behalf of our nation and country," he concluded. See full address here.


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