SLMM raises LTTE flag issue at Tamil women's event

[TamilNet, Thursday, 04 September 2003, 14:28 GMT]
When the Tamil Eelam National flag was about to be raised at an event organized by Tamil women’s organizations in the Northeast at the Vavuniya Town Hall Thursday, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission objected to it, saying that such flag-raising in the Sri Lanka Army controlled area violated the ceasefire agreement. However, following an argument between the LTTE’s women wing political leaders at the event and the SLMM’s foreign monitors, the flag was raised and the event went on peacefully, sources in Vavuniya said.

Foreign SLMM monitors, Ms. Kirsten Natvig and Mr.Olli Santanen, the Government of Sri Lanka’s representative in the SLMM, Mr. Athugoda, and the LTTE’s representative, Mr. Sivanadiyar were present in front of the Town Hall before the commencemnet of the women's event. The foreign monitors told the organizers of the event that raising the flag could be considered a provocative act by the Sri Lanka Army.

In the last one and a half years of ceasefire, the flag has been raised in all events of this nature. Nowhere in the Ceasefire Agreement (CA) or the Memorandum of Understanding is it said that raising the flag would be a violation of the ceasefire, and the public is entitled to exercise its fundamental right to choose any flag it desired, argued the women's political leaders present at the event.

Flag hoisting event
SLMM officials in Vavuniya Ms Kirsten Natvig and Mr.Olli Santanen talking to women at the event


Mr. S. Ezhilan, the political head of the LTTE in Vavuniya who was present at the event, also argued that there was nothing in the CA to prevent the raising of Tamileelam national flag, and the SLMM’s intervention at the behest of the SLA was one-sided. He told the SLMM monitors that the public had the right to raise a flag of its own choosing before starting an event and it would be a violation of their human rights to deny them that choice.

Mr. Ezhilan told the SLMM that a solution to the issue could be found if the SLMM met with the LTTE leadership in Kilinochchi, but until then the people would raise the Tamil Eelam National flag at all events.

The monitors said, however, that they were only communicating a directive from their headquarters that raising the flag in the SLA controlled areas would be considered a violation of the ceasefire. They said the flag raising would be announced as a violation of the ceasefire, but the people should not make a big issue out of it and instead conduct themselves peacefully.

The event then went on peacefully, with the lighting of the sacrificial flame by the head of the LTTE Martyr’s office, Mr. Pon Thiyagam. Ms. Thamilini, the head of the LTTE's women political wing, raised the Tamil Eelam national flag. The women’s program went on with the LTTE women wing’s political head in Vavuniya, Ms. Alai, presiding.

The father of the first woman LTTE fighter, Capt. Malathy, garlanded her framed picture. Representatives of Northeast women’s organizations, heads and deputy heads of the LTTE women’s political wing, and other women activists attended the event.

 

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