It was the first-ever public event in the island nation where mostly majority ethnic Sinhalese memorialized the minority group.
Sri Lankan protesters have lit flames and offered prayers remembering thousands – including ethnic Tamil civilians – killed in the final stages of the country’s decades-long civil war.
It was the first-ever event in the island nation where mostly majority ethnic Sinhalese openly memorialized the minority group.
Protesters gathered outside the president’s office in the main city of Colombo on Wednesday, floated flowers in the nearby sea, and prayed for all those who died in the 26-year civil war, including Tamil civilians, Tamil rebels, and government soldiers.
The head of the separatist Tamil Tiger movement, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was shot dead by security forces on May 18, 2009, bringing a formal end to the bloody ethnic war.
Clergy from Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian communities offered prayers in Colombo and lit a clay lamp for those who perished in the civil war.
The civil war killed 100,000 people, according to the United Nations estimates. The actual number is believed to be much higher. A report from a UN panel of experts said at least 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of the fighting alone.
Since Sri Lankan troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, Sri Lankan authorities had widely prohibited Tamils from publicly remembering their family members and have denied allegations that Tamil civilians were killed.
Human rights groups have since accused the country’s military of killing civilians towards the end of the war, in which the rebels fought for a separate state for the Tamil minority.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES