Protests in Vavuniya on Independence Day
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 04 February 2003, 16:33 GMT]
Bills stating “Sri Lanka’s Independence Day is a sad day for Tamils” were found on the walls of the district secretariat and other buildings in Vavuniya town, and a silent procession by women protesters was held in the town today, sources said
About 50 women from the Thalikulam, Pavatkulam and Sinapoovarasankulam areas of the Vauniya district gathered at the bus-station in Vavuniya with their mouths covered by black cloths and went on a procession to the district secretariat, where they handed over a petition addressed to the prime minister to the Government Agent (GA).
Meanwhile, a flag-raising ceremony to mark Sri Lanka’s Independence Day was held at the Vavuniya district secretariat today. The GA, Mr. K. Ganesh, presided at the event, where Mr. Noordeen Masoor, the Minister for Vanni Development was the Chief Guest.
The coordinator for civilian affairs, Col. Walter Kithsiri of the Sri Lankan Army, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. W.M.M. Dharmaratne, Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr. Wilfred Mahanayake, and the heads of government departments participated at the event.
Another event to mark the Independence Day was to be held today at the Vavuniya Tamil Maha Vidyalayam, but was later cancelled as students from the town did not turn out for the event.
The petition by the women stated that the Independence Day of Sri Lanka is a sad day for Tamil women of the country and women have been “discriminated on the basis of ethnicity and subjected to violence and rape; women have been murdered, made widows and rendered refugees. This sad story continues even now.”
The petitioners demanded that the army should vacate private properties they are occupying and people should be allowed to live in freedom.
The petition further said: “As we walked through a path full of untold suffering, the ceasefire agreement appeared as shining light; but the cessation of war has not brought any tangible change; military camps have not been removed, instead new camps are being built. We are unable to settle in our own homes. We who lived in our own homes observing the cultural values of our community have been rendered permanent refugees, relegated to sub-human living in refugee camps.
“The harassment by the military, murder and rape continue. Moreover, innocent women arrested without any valid reason, continue to languish in jails. As their husbands have been put in jail for no reason, many women suffer carrying the burden of the whole family; when many women have become walking corpses, of what use is the Independence Day?”
“The government should immediately release people who were arbitrarily arrested and languishing in prisons for no reason; should withdraw the army from our lands and let us live in freedom. If it fails to do so, not only this independence Day, but the future independence Days will also be a black Day for Tamil women.”