The official Sri Lankan state celebration of Vesak will be held in Jaffna this year, following instructions from Prime Minister, and accused war criminal Mahinda Rajapaksa to “focus on the North and East during Vesak this year”.
The prime minister’s office had decided to hold the state Vesak festival at the ‘Nagadeepa Viharaya’ on the islet of Nainativu and listed the involvement of at least 35 Buddhist schools in the North-East. The Buddhist vihara at Nainativu has had extensive military involvement with its construction, upkeep and expansion with the Sri Lankan Army and Navy holding regular Buddhist ceremonies at the site. In previous years Vesak celebrations across the occupied Tamil homeland were spearheaded by the military.
Newly constructed Buddhist Shrine in Nainativu
The Sri Lankan state has frequently engaged in land grabs across the Tamil homeland, including the islets of the Jaffna peninsula. Last year the Sri Lankan archaeology department seized land in Neduntheevu (Delft Island), claiming it contains a ruined Buddhist monastery complex. The islet of Nainativu has been under intense Sinhalisation, with the Sri Lankan government attempting to change the name of the Jaffna islet from ‘Nainativu’ in Tamil to ‘Naagadeepa’ in Sinhala. The Sri Lankan Navy had previously opened military run resorts on occupied Tamil land, encouraging Buddhists pilgrims to come and visit the newly constructed Buddhist temple on the islet.
Last month the Sri Lankan government awarded a contract to a Chinese based joint venture, to install a hybrid renewable energy system in three islands of the coast of Jaffna( Nainativu, Neduntheevu (Delft Island) and Analaitivu), at the cost of USD $12 million. The project has led to outrage from India.
Read more at the Colombo Gazette