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Tamils defy Sri Lankan crackdown to remember heroes in every district - Maaveerar Naal 2023

Thousands of Tamils defied the Sri Lanka security forces and gathered across the Tamil homeland, and around the world today, to mark Maaveerar Naal - Great Heroes Day - and remember those who sacrificed their lives in the Tamil struggle for liberation. 

Commemorations took place despite a Sri Lankan crackdown this week, which intensified this morning. Riot police armed with shields and batons were sent to shut down a memorial event in Batticaloa, whilst in other parts of Eelam, Tamils were blocked from commemorating their heroes. Regardless, events took place at every district in the North-East.

Maaveerar Naal is marked on November 27 in memory of the first death of a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam cadre (LTTE), Lt. Shankar who died in combat on November 27, 1982.


Dozens of Sri Lankan police officers stormed Maaveerar Naal commemorations at the Tharavai Thuyilum Illam in Batticaloa and arrested at least four Tamils earlier today.

Armed with riot shields and batons officers tore down red and yellow flags and pulled lamps out of the ground.

Read more: Sri Lankan riot police storm Maaveerar Naal commemorations in Batticaloa, four Tamils arrested

In other parts of Batticaloa, Tamils also gathered at the Mavadi Munmari Thuyilum Illam to pay respects to the fallen.

Read more: Maaveerar Naal commemorated in Maavadi Thuyilum Illam, Batticaloa



Sri Lankan police prevented dozens of Tamils, including a member of parliament, from commemorating Maaveerar Naal at the site of a cemetery housing the war dead earlier today, forcing them to light lamps on the roadsides of Amparai.

Read more: Blocked by police, Tamils forced to commemorate Maaveerar Naal on Amparai roadside



The Tamil Guardian broadcast live from the Kanagapuram Thuyilum Ilam in Kilinochchi as proceedings took place earlier today.

Thousands of Tamils gathered at the site of a destroyed LTTE cemetery in Kilinochchi to commemorate Maaveerar Naal. Kanagapuram was one of the largest of the several LTTE cemeteries, housing the bodies of hundreds of fallen cadres. 

Read more: In Pictures - Thousands at Kanagapuram remember their Maaveerar



Sri Lankan police were seen tearing down red and yellow flags in Alampil, Mullaitivu, just hours before Maaveerar Naal commemorations are set to begin, even though an order was passed by Mullaitivu Magistrate Court this morning which stated that flags could be flown, the karthigai flower could be used, the term 'Thuyilum' could be used on any displays and banners and hymns could be played.

Read more: BREAKING - Sri Lankan police tear down red and yellow flags in Mullaitivu

Maaveerar Naal commemorations were held at several locations across the Mullaitivu district, including the traditional Thuyilum Illams, as well as those that were later introduced to serve as resting places for those who fell in battle in the final stages of the armed conflict.

Read more: Thousands across Mullaitivu commemorate Maaveerar Naal



In Trincomalee, Sri Lankan police officers disrupted and blocked Tamils trying to mark Maaveerar Naal in Alankulam, where an LTTE cemetery was constructed.

Read more: Sri Lankan police blocks commemoration in Trincomalee



In Jaffna, former Northern Provincial Council member N Shivajilingham and mother of Captain Pandithar lit a flame at the native home of Lt Shankar, the first LTTE cadre to sacrifice their life in the liberation struggle.

Shivajilingham also lit a flame outside Koppay Thuyilum Illam, an LTTE cemetery, which is currently occupied by the Sri Lankan Army’s 51 Division and the Kodikamam Thuyilum Illam, where the Sri Lankan military’s 522nd Brigade headquarters is now based.

University of Jaffna students also erected an arch outside their campus to mark the day.

Read more: Tamils in Jaffna commemorate Maaveerar Naal

Thousands of Tamils also gathered at LTTE cemeteries in Jaffna today, to pay tribute to the men and women who laid down their lives for the liberation of Tamil Eelam.

Read more: In pictures – Crowds gather at LTTE cemeteries in Jaffna to mark Maaveerar Naal



Thousands of Tamils gathered near Eechankulam Thuyilum Illam to commemorate Maaveerar Naal.

Read more: Thousands gather near destroyed LTTE cemetery in Vavuniya for Maaveerar Naal



Thousands gather across Mannar at LTTE cemeteries to mark Maaveerar Naal. Remembrance events were also held at the Lady of Victory Church in Pesalai.

Read more: In Pictures - Tamils gather across Mannar to mark Maaveerar Naal



Students in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Batticaloa also held memorial events at their respective universities.

Read more: University students commemorate Maaveerar Naal in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Batticaloa

A tense build up

In the run-up to the day, the Sri Lankan military deployed a series of measures to try and prevent commemorations from taking place.

Activists faced arrest, court orders were sought, and memorials were destroyed.

Read more:

Sri Lankan police prohibit use of Tamil national flower at Maaveerar Naal

Sri Lanka’s TID head and police chief vow to punish Maaveerar Naal commemorations 

Vice President of Tamil political party arrested under PTA for providing meals to Maaveerar families

Crackdown and destruction in the East ahead of Maaveerar Naal

Sri Lankan police seek ban on Maaveerar Naal commemorations in Jaffna

Valaichenai police demolish Maaveerar memorial

Mullaitivu court prohibits Maaveerar Naal remembrance

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