Sri Lankan military desecrates war cemeteries in Batticaloa - TNA parliamentarian

[TamilNet, Sunday, 26 August 2007, 07:03 GMT]
Tamils returning to their villages after months in refugee camps in Batticaloa were frustrated to find out that the cemeteries of their LTTE war dead sons and daughters have vanished without any trace, said Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian P. Ariyanenthiran. Sri Lankan military has recently bulldozed and desecrated Tiger War Heroes Cemeteries in the district. The destruction of the largest war heroes' cemetery in Tharavai in Vadamunai region and the next largest cemetery at Thaa'ndiyadi in the western hinterland of the district "not only mark the SL forces' continued disrespect of the norms of the civlized world, but also reveal a colonization agenda in the near future," he charged.

P. Ariyanenthiran
P. Ariyanenthiran, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian.
The LTTE war heroes' cemetery (Maaveerar thuyilum illam) in Tharavai, situated near a forest area with few civilian settlements, was destroyed in June 2007.

Thaa'ndiyadi war heroes’ cemetery was bulldozed before allowing the Tamil civilians to move back into their homes a few days ago.

A Special Task Force (STF) camp has been setup on the grounds of Thaa'ndiyadi war cemetery and the Sri Lankan commandos there have instructed the people not to use the traditional village name, Thaa'ndiyadi, which means the locality of Thaan'ri (Terminalia bellerica) trees.

Tharavai Thuyilum Illam
Maaveerar cemetery at Tharavai [Image: Google Earth]
Thaa'ndiyadi Thuyilum illam
Heroes Cemetery at Thaa'ndiyadi [Image courtesy: Google Earth]
The civilians were told that their village was renamed to "Suniththapura," in Sinhala. Only the letters with the Sinhala name would be allowed to reach them, they were told.

The two other war heroes cemeteries in the district, Ka'ndaladi in Vaakarai and Maavadi Munmaari in the Paddippalai Divisional Secretary's area have also been desacrated.

Also in Ampaa'rai, the Sri Lankan forces have caused destruction to the hereos' cemetery located at Kanchikudichchaa'ru in this year.

In Trincomalee, the district's largest LTTE Heroes Cemetery at Aalangku'lam was destroyed in 2006.

"International civilized norms dictate that war prisoners, war wounded, and war memorials be respected which ever side it belongs to. The people of my constituency, who regard heroes’ cemeteries as sacred places, are depressed to find these destroyed," the paraliamentarian said.

Ruins from the damaged Heroes cemeteray in Kopay
Ruins from the damaged Heroes Tombs in Koappaay preserved at the site
Kopay Martyr's Cemetary, Reconstructed
A section of the reconstructed Martyrs Cemetary in Kopay in 2003
When contacted by TamilNet, an official at the Secretratiat of Tamileelam War Heroes officials in Vanni said they have preserved precise location of every burial site, which would enable them to re-erect the cemeteries in future.

LTTE war heroes' memorials in Jaffna peninsula at Koappaay were bulldozed by the Sri Lanka Army in 1995. The other cemeteries destroyed in Jaffna were: Chaaddi in Veala'nai (1995), Kodikaamam in Thenmaraadchi (1996) and Ellangku'lam in Vadamaraadchi (1996). These war cemeteries were re-built following the February 2002 Ceasefire Agreement.

"Throughout the history of the ethnic conflict in this island the LTTE has always respected the symbols of the dead of the enemy. In total disregard to this custom throughout the world, the Sri Lankan military has made the destruction of the war heroes’ cemeteries of the Tamils into one of its tradition," the official charged.

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