Poor turnout at Batticaloa independence day celebrations

[TamilNet, Friday, 04 February 2000, 12:22 GMT]
Twenty-two people including a Government Agent, eight officials, seven employees, religious dignitaries representing all faiths and two journalists attended the 52nd Independence Day celebrations held at the Dutch Fort at Batticaloa this morning.

As students who were invited to sing the National Anthem did not participate in the celebrations, tape-recorded National Anthem was played at the beginning.

Independence Day celebrations were not held in Batticaloa last year after the Liberation Tigers shelled the venue, injuring 20 soldiers.

This year the government had issued strict instruction to Government Agents to organize Independence Day celebrations in their areas at divisional and district levels.

Accordingly, Batticaloa's GA A. K. Pathmanathan made arrangements for today's celebrations.

Swami Jeevathmanandaji of Batticaloa Ramakrishna Mission and Rev. Fr.Ignatius Joseph, a Parish Priest from Puliyantheivu spoke. They said that there was no independence to Tamils in this country. "Tamils today live as refugees in camps. Their movements are curtailed.They are unable to move freely in the country. They face repression. Under these circumstances how could Tamils celebrate the Independence Day?" they asked.

Batticaloa's Government Agent A.K.Pathmanathan said that Tamils have lost confidence on political leaders of the country. The political leaders should be blamed for the present ethnic crisis, he said.

He added that the country gained independence fifty years ago. People lived peacefully for two years without racial and religious differences, he said before power politics entered the scene, dividing the communities.

"Politicians gained power when people divided on communal basis. Politicians destroyed the national unity prevailed soon after the country gained independence, through their communal policies," he said.

Mr.Pathmanathan further said that there was no media freedom. People in Vanni region were undergoing immense suffering due to the present war.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's 52nd Independence Day celebrations were held in Trincomalee town under tight security.

The Governor of the North East Province Major General Asoka Jayawardhene arrived this morning to participate in Independence Day celebrations organized at McHeyzer Stadium in Trincomalee town. He addressed the gathering following march past by students. The SLA and Police provided the area in and around the stadium with maximum security.

 

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