Home > News > Regional
Monday May 19, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday May 19, 2014 MYT 7:50:35 AM
Sri Lankan policewomen march during a Victory Day parade in the southern town of Matara on May 18, 2014. - AFP
MATARA (Sri Lanka): President Mahinda Rajapakse led celebrations at a major victory parade to mark the fifth anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist war, after banning commemorations for its victims.
As the envoys of Western nations stayed away from the parade, a defiant Rajapakse insisted he would not bow to pressure from foreign critics who are pushing him to investigate claims that tens of thousands of people died in the final stages of the conflict.
“Some governments are blind, deaf and dumb. They are opposed to our celebrating this victory,” Rajapakse said in a televised speech from Matara, his birthplace in the Sinhalese heartland of the island’s south.
“We are not celebrating victory in a war, we are celebrating peace. Irrespective of who opposes this, or who stays away, we will always commemorate this day,” he added.
The 37-year conflict effectively ended on May 18, 2009, when troops killed the Tamil Tiger rebels’ supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran in a brutal assault on the northern town of Mullaittivu.
The UN has estimated that at least 100,000 people died in the entire conflict, about 40,000 of them in the final months of fighting.
Rajapakse however has denied any civilians were killed in the finale and is resisting calls for an international inquiry into claims that troops killed thousands of civilians who had been herded into no-fire zones.
His administration has also ordered a ban on all commemorations this weekend.
Police on Friday broke up a remembrance service that was being held in council offices in the battle-scarred northern town of Jaffna.
Around 7,500 troops took part in yesterday’s parade which featured tanks, gunboats and military aircraft.
Canada, a strong critic of Sri Lanka’s war record, had announced its top envoy in Colombo would boycott the parade while the top diplomats from other Western powers, including the United States and former colonial power Britain, were conspicuous by their absence.
Canadian High Commissioner (ambassador) Shelley Whiting said in a statement to a local newspaper on Friday that the parade was inappropriate because the government should be concentrating on reconciliation. — AFP
Tags / Keywords:
Sri Lanka says will refuse entry to UN war crimes investigators
US sends envoy to Sri Lanka to discuss war crimes
Sri Lanka family finds mass grave in garden
Bodies in Sri Lanka mass grave top 80
North Korea issues fresh warning of 'all-out war'
Brazil's election too close to call on eve of runoff
U.S., allies stage 22 air strikes in Iraq - U.S. Central Command
Major party supports move to extend Burkina Faso leader's rule
U.S. recognises gay marriages in six more states
Egypt eyes legal restrictions, military measures after Sinai attacks
Canadians flock to Parliament Hill, site of attack on soldier
Mushroom & Caramelised Onion Tart
Agoda.com’s list of over-the-top hotels
Valencia celebrate imminent Lim takeover with victory
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)