“Why can’t we pay homage to the people we lost in the battle?”

Sri Lankan police on Friday stopped a group’s efforts to hold a remembrance event in Jaffna around the fifth anniversary of the end of the country’s war.

A couple of days ahead of the ‘Victory Parade’, being held in Matara by the Sri Lankan government to commemorate the end of its brutal ethnic conflict, a Jaffna-based group said police prevented it from holding a remembrance ceremony.

According to sources in Jaffna, Tamil politicians attempted to stage the remembrance on Friday at the local council offices but the police prevented them from going ahead.

“When they [government] can commemorate the day they won the war, why can’t we pay homage to the people we lost in the battle? It is not about the LTTE, we just want to remember our family members and friends,” said a university student who did not wish to be named.

When contacted, police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said a group led by a TNA councillor wanted to hold a commemorative event inside a government building without permission.

“If they want to have a remembrance for civilians, they could do it in public. If they want to remember their relatives who were in the LTTE, they can do that in private. But we cannot permit such an event in a government building,” he told The Hindu.

‘Threat to harmony’

It was a threat to national harmony, he said, adding that evoking memory of LTTE cadre could upset some families whose children were reportedly recruited by the rebel Tigers.