Tamils urged to mourn marking Sri Lankan war`s end

Ethnic Tamil leaders called on Monday for a day of mourning for civilians killed during Sri Lanka`s 25-year civil war.

Colombo: Ethnic Tamil leaders called on Monday
for a day of mourning for civilians killed during Sri Lanka`s
25-year civil war, as the government prepared to celebrate the
one-year anniversary of its victory over Tamil Tiger rebels.

Sri Lanka`s conflict ended in May 2009 after a massive
military operation against the Tigers in their stronghold in
the country`s north. According to UN documents at least 7,000
civilians were killed in the last five months of the war. An
estimated 80,000-100,000 people died during a quarter-century
of fighting.

A Tamil political party urged Tamil people today to mourn
and hold silent prayers on May 17 to mark what it called a day
of "catastrophe" after the rebels were routed on the
battlefield and senior leaders killed.

"During the height of the war several thousand Tamil
people were killed and hundreds of thousand others suffered
heavy losses and were forced to flee their homes," said the
Tamil National Alliance, the largest political party
representing Tamils.

"This catastrophe is one of the worst in world history,"
the party said in a statement.

The government, meanwhile, announced a week of
celebrations to honor soldiers starting Wednesday, including a
victory parade in the capital Colombo on May 20. During "war
heroes` week," the army also plans to hold religious
ceremonies and raise funds to help disabled soldiers, a
government statement said.

The government said last week it will establish a
commission to investigate alleged human rights abuses during
the war.

Government troops were accused of shelling a small strip
of land where hundreds of thousands of people were boxed-in
during the last stages of the conflict.

The rebels were also accused of killing noncombatants
trying to leave the area under their control, and firing
artillery from civilian-populated regions that led to
retaliatory military fire.

Nearly 300,000 people were left homeless after the final
assault ended on May 18, 2009 with the death of the rebel
group`s chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and all senior
guerrilla leaders.

About 100,000 refugees remain in government-run camps.
Tens of thousands of others were sent back to their villages
or live with relatives and friends.


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