Heavy rains forced Sri Lanka to postpone ceremonies due on Thursday to mark the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels one year ago and to honour soldiers who died in the fighting.
“The government has decided to postpone the war heroes’ commemoration ceremony which was due to be held at the War Heroes’ Monument at the Parliament grounds,” the defence ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. It said that a military parade to celebrate the first anniversary of its crushing of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had also been put off indefinitely.
Sri Lanka declared victory after the killing of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his top commanders on May 18 last year, ending 37 years of violence which claimed more than 100,000 lives. The next day, the government showed Prabhakaran’s body on television with a deep cut across his forehead. Since then, there had been no attacks blamed on Tamil Tigers. However, Tamils living abroad have set up a new group called the Global Tamil Forum which says it will lead a non-violent campaign for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The government in Sri Lanka has accused the forum of being a front for the Tigers and has expressed fears that Tiger remnants would try to regroup and rearm with the support of Tamils living abroad. The Tamil Forum said that it was observing Tuesday across the world as a day of remembrance of Tiger cadres and civilians killed in the final phase of fighting. The UN has estimated the 7,000 civilians were killed in the final battle and the International Crisis Group has demanded that the Sri Lankan government respond to a human rights inquiry.
Published in th Express Tribune, May 19th, 2010.
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