The 36th anniversary of Thiyagi Thileepan’s martyrdom is being commemorated throughout the North-East, with multiple organisations, groups and thousands of people participating in various commemorative events across the homeland.
Lt Col Thileepan, was a political wing leader of the LTTE who fasted to death, in a protest appealing to the Indian government to honour pledges made to the Tamil people.
The demands Thileepan put forward were:
- All Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be released.
- The colonisation by Sinhalese in Tamil areas under the guise of rehabilitation should be stopped.
- All such rehabilitation should be stopped until an interim government is formed.
- The Sri Lankan government should stop opening police stations and camps in the Northeastern province.
- The Sri Lankan army and police should withdraw from schools in Tamil villages and the weapons given by the Sri Lankan government to 'homeguards' should be withdrawn under the supervision of the Indian army.
However, the Indian government failed to acknowlege Thileepan's demands. He began his fast on September 15 and died 11 days later after refusing food and water.
Commemoration events remembering Thileepan and his sacrifice began on September 15, the date in which he intiated his hunger strike.
In Nallur, Jaffna, over a thousand people gathered at a monument dedicated to Thileepan despite the heavy rain.
Mrs Velmurugan, the mother of three LTTE cadres, lit the sacrificial lamp before attendees laid flowers at a photograph of Thileepan.
The organisers of the commemoration event had made special arrangements to ensure that the traffic flowed on to a different road in order for the event to run smoothly. Sri Lankan police, however, threatened those who had put the special measures in place and instrcuted vehicles to continue to use the road where the commemoration event was set to take place.
Last Monday, the Jaffna police had filed a petition in an attempt to block the commemoration event from going ahead. However, the court rejected their request the following day.
A smaller remembrance event was also held at Nallur North Road at 10.48 am where Thileepan died after refusing food and water.
Students at the University of Jaffna also held a remembrance event in which they handed out coconut tree saplings to attendees.
An injuction was obtained by Sri Lankan police to ban the use of Thileepan's photograph during a commemoration event in Trincomalee. The organisers of the event used a chair instead of Thileepan's photograph as a protest against the injunction.
Tamil families of the disappeared in Vavuniya alos paid tribute to Thileepan as they marked 2,410 days of continous protest.
Rajkumar, the secretary of the Vavuniya Assosication of the Disappeared said:
"On this day, we remember Thileepan Anna who made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life with the hope that the future Tamil children could live in peace in their own land and under their own government. However, this has not happened yet."
A remembrance event was held at Gandhi Park in Batticaloa to mark 36 years since Thileepan's sacrifice.
The Tamil National Right to Live Movement lit a flame and laid flowers to mark the day in Mannar.
The National Political Action Committee held a remembrance event in Swathipuram, Mullaitivu whilst the Sri Lankan army patrolled the area.
Malini Parthiban, a former cadre lit the sacrificial lamp before a photograph of Thileepan was garlanded. Dances and dramas were also performed to remember Thileepan and his sacrifice.
In Puthukkudiyiruppu (PTK), the PTK Traders Association closed their buisnesses today and held a commemoration event where they lit a flame and laid flowers in tribute to Thileepan.