The bombing of displaced Tamils inside Navaly's St Peter's Church on July 9th, 1995 was marked on Saturday as part of Mullivaikkal Remembrance week, which remembers the genocide of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka over several decades.
At least 120 Tamil civilians were massacred in the Navali church attack.
The Northern Provincial Councillor, M K Shivajilingham lit a flame of remembrance at the church.
Launching the remembrance week on Thursday, Mr Shivajilingham began proceedings in Chemmani, where the mass graves of Tamils are situated.
The bombing of St Peters Church at Navaly, occurred following a series of leaflet drops in previous weeks that encouraged Tamil civilians to move to places of worship to avoid Sri Lanka’s air force bombing against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Initially, President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government denied reports of the Church bombing before eventually pledging to establish an inquiry into the incident.
The Sri Lankan government initially criticised the International Committee of the Red Cross for reporting on the incident to the international community.
The ICRC, two days after the incident, reported,
“Thirteen babies were among the 65 dead found under the rubble of a Catholic church bombed by the Sri Lankan air force. According to eye witness accounts, this church and several adjacent buildings were hit by further air force strikes at 4.30 p.m. the same day. During the attack 65 people were killed and 150 wounded, including women and children. That evening and into the night Sri Lanka Red Cross staff evacuated most of the wounded by ambulance to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) present the next morning at the scene of the attack noted the widespread damage and measured the extent of the tragedy. Many of the bodies had not yet been removed from the rubble.”
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