Collective memorialisation is a fundamental right

29 May 2017

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) is deeply disturbed and strongly condemns the ongoing acts of surveillance, intimidation and harassment by the Sri Lankan state of family members and civil society leaders found engaging in commemoration activities of loved ones who perished eight years ago.  

This month Tamils world over marked the 8th year since over a hundred thousand Tamils were killed due to the Sri Lankan government's military onslaught in the island's north - a campaign riddled with allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

On 17 May, ruling that it threatened “unity" and "national security" a local court issued a two week ban on memorialisation activities near a commemoration monument in Mullivaikkal East that had been erected earlier. Over the past week several reports have risen of acts of intimidation and harassment by Sri Lankan police and military of those involved in memorialisation events. The most prominent has been the repeated summoning for questioning by the police of Fr. Elil, a Tamil priest involved in such remembrance events. He along with a young Tamil man who assisted in creating memorial stones have been interrogated and asked to sign statements in Sinhala, a language not native to them.

Collective remembrance is a community’s fundamental right and peaceful gatherings help heal a grieving community. Acts of intimidation and obstruction of such fundamental rights goes against ‘good governance’ and ‘reconciliation’. 

The ATC is humbled to hear, however, that amidst such threats by the state, Tamils in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka continued to publicly commemorate the ‘Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day’ on 18 May with Tamils around the world, including Australia, joining them.

Meanwhile, ATC stands in support with the families of the disappeared holding a peaceful protest in Kilinochchi. This protest demanding answers from the Sri Lankan government on the whereabouts of disappeared family members has now reached its 100th day.

For further details: 

Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research

Amnesty International

The International Truth and Justice Project