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‘You expect us to get your permission to commemorate the people you killed’ - TNPF MP confronts Sri Lankan police

The Sri Lankan security forces attempted to halt a group of Tamils who were on their way to commence cleaning services in preparation for Maaveerar Naal, as initimidation continued in the run up to the remembrance day. 

A crowd of police and military officers surrounded the Tamils, including Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) general secretary and parliamentarian Selvarajah Kajendran, and started collecting their full contact details. 

When the TNPF MP questioned the officers as to why they were taking statements, the police claimed that the field on which the Tamils were going to conduct the preparatory work belonged to another person. 

To this the MP insisted that the landowner be brought in front of him. “This field covers over 3,000 bodies, including our relatives, who were buried,” responded Kajendran.

“This is your President’s version of democracy,” said Kajendran, as the police interrogation continued. 

“Last year, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa publicy denied banning the commemoration, when in fact, he did. What issues does it create for you if we commemorate the dead?”

“It is this police force and this government that massacred these people,” he added. “You expect us to get your permission to commemorate the people you killed.”

See video footage of the incident below.

“There is no place in either Sri Lankan law or international law to strip people of their right to commemorate those who died in war,” Kajendran on Monday after taking part in the cleaning of a Thuyilum illam earlier in the week. “However, the police and the army are conducting themselves in ways that are contrary to this belief.”

“Police and military have been deployed in mass numbers on every corner around Thuyilum illams in order to intimidate Tamil people,” he added. “As people were afraid of being arrested under charges of violating COVID-19 related safety measures, the clearing activities proceeded with only 10 volunteers taking part in it.”

“The law of this country permits its people to memorialise the dead,” he highlighted. “Last year, misinformation poured in from the media that observing Maaveerar Naal was forbidden. Then, President Gotabaya [Rajapaksa] announced that he had not made any orders to that effect. Portraying himself to the international community as a democrat and as someone who does upholds human rights, he has deployed the army and the police to intimidate Tamils and attempt to impede the commemoration activities.”

“The police created an environment of intimidation in Kopay and Kanagapuram. The North is normally in a state of constant fear. We strongly condemn the actions of the police and the military.”

As Maaveerar Naal draws closer, cases of intimidation of Tamil civilians and surveillance of their everyday lives are aggressively escalating. Preparation activities for the remembrance day and any commemoration events have been disrupted or sabotaged in Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and other places by the police and the military and threats of legal and court action has been issued. Recently, Army Commander and accused war-criminal Shavendra Silva threatened Tamils who commemorate Maaveerar Naal with forced quarantine.

Preparations for the day are underway across the Tamil homeland in full swing despite the intimidation.

 

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