Religious services for war victims allowed, but no ‘public events’

Sri Lanka map1-873x1024     Sri Lanka’s military spokesman said that religious services to commemorate loved ones who were killed in the conflict between government troops and the LTTE terrorist organization will be allowed, however the conducting of any “public event” is prohibited.

Sri Lanka has banned public commemorations of Tamil Tiger rebels ahead of the fifth anniversary of LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran’s killing which marked the end of the war.

Military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said public events to commemorate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres killed in the final battle of the decades-long separatist war were barred as the organisation remained outlawed.

“Individuals may have religious services to commemorate their loved ones killed in the fighting, but there cannot be any public events,” Wanigasooriya was quoted as saying by AFP. “Display of LTTE flags or insignia will also not be allowed,” he added.

Government forces killed Prabhakaran on May 18, 2009 and declared an end to 37 years of armed conflict, which the UN estimates claimed at least 100,000 lives.  The government’s ban on LTTE commemorations follows military claims that rebel remnants were trying to regroup and rearm to renew their campaign for a separate homeland for the ethnic Tamil minority.

The military last month shot dead three Tamil men accused of trying to revive the LTTE in the island’s north. The government has banned other Tamil commemorations of the war in the past, including events to mark the LTTE war dead last November.

Meanwhile, the military is planning a parade on May 18 in Matara to commemorate the victory over the rebels, Wanigasooriya said.

“This victory belongs to each and every citizen of this country irrespective of any perceived differences,” Wanigasooriya said.

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