The head of the Sri Lankan army said the military remained “cautious and concerned” over commemorations for fallen Tamil fighters, due to take place next month.
Sri Lankan army commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake said that the commemorations were a cause for concern, but brushed off accusations that the military was not well equipped to deal with "security" threats.
"If anyone does things like these, we have to be concerned as a country,” he said, adding that commemorating “civilians… is no issue”
“However, if the LTTE is commemorated, we need to be cautious and concerned," he added.
The army chief went on to state that the military remained ready to deal with “national security” threats and remarked that any such commemoration did not point to “a breakdown of national security”.
“All three forces are well geared to face any such national security threat at any time,” he concluded.
Last week local Tamils began clearing LTTE cemeteries, which had housed thousands of fallen fighters and were destroyed by the Sri Lankan state, ahead of commemorations which take place every year on November 27th.
In November, thousands of Tamils attended commemorations for Maaveerar Naal which took place in every district of the North-East. Several areas have also engaged in community clearing of destroyed LTTE cemeteries and monuments, while other significant remembrance days in the armed struggle, such as Black Tigers Day and commemoration of Malathy, the first female martyr, have been marked by Tamils in the North-East.
However, preparations for Maaveerar Naal, and other commemorations, as well as cemetery clearing have been marred by altercations with the Sri Lankan military forces.
Earlier this year Sri Lanka’s United National Party had instructed the armed forces to take immediate action when information about LTTE commemorations is received, according to UNP Minister Navin Dissanayake.