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When Sharing Kanji is a Crime

Each year in May, since the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009, Tamils gather together to remember their dead. And every time they are harassed by the police, even to the point of being arrested.

It was no different this month; media reports stated that four Tamils, of whom three were women were arrested in the Trincomalee area for sharing Kanji, in remembrance of their dead.

In Colombo human rights activists and some members of the Tamil community gathered on a beach to remember lives lost in the 3o year ethnic conflict, and to share a bowl of kanji.

Ultra Sinhala nationalists attempted to disrupt the gathering, but this time aroud at least. the police turned them away.

Kanji, a rice porridge, was the only source of sustenance for the thousands of Tamils caught up in the last days of the war. They had no escape from the military or the LTTE. Caught up between the two fighting forces in Mullivaikkal many perished. Some who surrendered were never heard of again.

In March this year, the Association representing families of the disappeared, across 8 districts in the North and East marked 2200 days of waiting for answers. Successive governments have turned a deaf ear to their pleas.

Each year in April, and in Novemeber the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna too organises remembrance events.

In April, it is to mark their 1971 insurrection. In November, titled "Il Maha Viru Samaruma" (November Commemoration of Heroes), the JVP remembers their founding leader Rohana Wijeweera and their members killed during their two attempted revolts (1971 & in the late 1980s to 1990.)

Yet, despite all the mayhem and disruption, loss of lives and damage to public property during those two revolts, there are no attempts either by the authorities or members of the public to prevent the commemorations.

Be it the ethnic conflict or the attempts to overthrow the government, innocents paid with their lives. Under the guise of national security, many who had no involvement in either of the conflicts were also killed. Others fled for their lives.

The LTTE remains proscribed, the JVP on the other hand is fast gaining popularity as the alternative to the SLPP, SLFP, UNP and the SJB to govern the country.

Amongst many Sri Lankans it appears that the sins of the LTTE are not to be forgiven or forgotten and the Tamil community must continue to be held accountable. Not so with the JVP. Granted the devastation during the 30 year conflict is far greater.

It is hypocrisy at its best.

The TNA's M A Sumanthiran termed the concerns raised by Sri Lanka on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine as double speak....."today you won’t even allow us to remember that occasion in a solemn way. (rembering the last days of Mullivaikkal) So what are your standards then? Isn’t this double speak? Isn’t this utter hypocrisy?"

One law for the North, another for the South- Double Speak, indeed!

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