Tamil People Celebrate Heroes Day!

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March in London earlier this month  condemning holding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka
March in London earlier this month condemning holding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka

THE Tamil people commemorated Heroes Day on November 27, in remembrance of all the thousands who fought and gave their lives in the struggle for Tamil independence, in defiance of Sri Lankan military oppression.

Tamil Heroes Day is observed in unity among the Tamil Diaspora across the globe.

In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the day was marked across the state with special ceremony at the recently opened memorial site, Mu’l’livaaykkaal Muttam, at Thanjaavoor.

In Sri Lanka the elected civic members of Karaveddi South-West Piratheasa Chapai (PS) on Monday paid floral tribute to the fallen Tamil Tiger heroes, who had been killed during the independence struggle of Eezham Tamils.

This tribute came on the same day as the military establishment issued a ban on commemorating the fallen Tamil fighters on November 27.

The official warning in the city of Colombo was released on Monday saying that promoting and propagating ‘separatist ideology within Sri Lanka directly or indirectly, even by using media freedom, and attempting to commemorate or glorify terrorists that belonged to a proscribed organisation would be illegal.’

Journalists and photographers were also warned against disseminating the news of the remembrance events being observed by the democratically elected Tamil councillors.

Within a few hours of the floral tributes Sri Lankan military squads smashed the windows of two Tamil councillors including councillor Mr P Viyakes the chair of Karaveddi South-West civic body.

Mr P. Viyakes, who presided over the remembrance event, was questioned by the intelligence operatives before being released.

Meanwhile Sri Lankan military operatives who came in vehicles to the houses of Mr Sathees, the deputy head of Valveddith-thu’rai Urban Council, and Mr Viyakes, the chairman of Karaveddi South-West Piratheasa Chapai, attacked the houses, threatening the family members who were asleep in the early hours of Tuesday.

The squad smashed the windows of the houses and the vehicles at the houses, threatening the families of the elected representatives.

The councillors were targeted for their floral tributes in remembrance of the tens of thousands who have sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the nation of Eezham Tamils.

The Tamil National Alliance made huge gains in the recent local elections, promising in their platform to restore the right to hold tributes to those who sacrificed their lives in the war.

Since 2009, the University student community has been fighting for the right of remembering those who sacrificed their lives in Tamil struggle.

Last year, the Sri Lankan military establishment, attacked Jaffna University students at the female hostel while they were observing a memorial event on Heroes Day and the following day, the student community staged a peaceful protest against the brutality of the Sri Lankan military.

Armed military and police commandos attacked the peaceful rally and the student leaders were later forced to turn themselves over into the hands of Colombo’s Terrorist Investigation Division, which sent the student leaders for a prolonged ‘military rehabilitation’, a move which was vehemently opposed by the University community including the Teachers Union.

The University of Jaffna has been shut down till 2nd December this year following the instructions by Colombo to prevent commemoration of Heroes Day.

The VVT Urban Council recently won a case to proceed with raising a Public Park at Theeruvil where the occupying Sri Lankan military had bulldozed three key memorial monuments in 2010.

l rights groups, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International Australia, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and the Castan Centre for Human Rights, have called for a retraction of remarks on torture in Sri Lanka made by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on November 15, 2013.

Abbot had said that while his government ‘deplores the use of torture we accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen.’

Elaine Pearson, Australia director of Amnesty responded: ‘Torture is always illegal and immoral, and there is no exception for “difficult circumstances”.

‘Abbott’s remarks give cover to torturers in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, and he should retract them immediately.’

The rights group, in a joint letter to the Australian Prime Minister, wrote: ‘Torture is immoral and illegal.

‘The right to be free from such mistreatment is among the most fundamental and unequivocal human rights.

‘Torture is prohibited under both Australian Law and international law treaties to which Australia is a party.

‘Australia is also a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which includes torture among grave crimes in violation of international law.’

The letter further said: ‘In relation to Sri Lanka, your statement wrongly suggested that torture was confined to the country’s (Sri Lanka’s) three-decade long conflict.

‘However, there is considerable evidence that torture by Sri Lankan state officials has continued beyond the end of the civil war in May 2009.

‘Human Rights Watch has documented at least 50 cases of rape and sexual violence, accompanied by other forms of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by Sri Lanka’s security forces against persons in custody since the conflict’s end . . .’

The letter concluded: ‘We urge you to make a strong public statement that the Australian government always deplores the use of torture, which cannot be justified in any circumstances.’