Colombo: Sri Lanka's Tamil-dominated Northern province on Wednesday commemorated the civilians who died during the civil war between the LTTE and the army. The ceremony was held on the 7th anniversary of the end of the three-decade long brutal conflict, with chief minister CV Wigneswaran asserting that "not everyone who died during the war was a terrorist."
Addressing a ceremony held at Vellamullivaikkal, in the northeastern Mullaitivu district, Wigneswaran said, "We are here to commemorate the civilians. It is necessary to seek out what happened to these people, since a lot of civilians lost their lives due to the war."
Wigneswaran said that those in the South of the country interpreted the commemoration ceremony as a "tribute to the terrorists", who were killed during the conflict.
A five-minute silence was observed in memory of the victims as well as religious observances.
A similar commemoration was also held at Jaffna University.
The government has banned the commemoration of the fallen LTTE cadres in the conflict and it remains a banned terrorist organisation in Sri Lanka.
Government forces killed the Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on 18 May 2009, after a brutal military crackdown, and put an end to the 37-year conflict, which claimed at least 1,00,000 lives.
President Maithripala Sirisena took power in January 2015 promising reconciliation and a reduction in the military's involvement in public life and pledging that those guilty of war crimes would be held accountable.
The new government has abandoned a controversial military "victory" parade and has instead gone in for a more sombre remembrance ceremony to mark the day.
Earlier, parades celebrated the victory of the Sinhalese military over the minority Tamils, who were banned from remembering their dead as commemoration of fallen rebels was thought anti-state.
Published Date: May 18, 2016 07:48 pm | Updated Date: May 18, 2016 07:48 pm