Colombo: The Sri Lankan government, in continuation of its policy of de- emphasising the military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, has decided not to have any military parade this year at an event to mark the conclusion of the Eelam War.
Last year, after Maithripala Sirisena became President, the government renamed the Victory Day (May 19) as Day of Remembrance, marking the shift from triumphalism to commemoration.
Since the end of the civil war in May 2009, military parades constituted an important element of the celebration on May 19. Between 2010 and 2015, such parades were held either on the Galle Face Main, Colombo, or in Matara, a city in the Southern Province. Even last year, the southern city witnessed one such event.
Instead, on May 18, a function would be held at the War Memorial near the Parliament, which would be attended by the President. A cultural show would take place at the Independence Square in the evening.
The focus of the day’s observance would be on promotion of reconciliation, according to a statement hosted on the website of the Defence Ministry, quoting State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene.
The statement said that as the Independence Day (February 4) was celebrated in a grand manner, the funds that would have otherwise been spent for “lavish shows” would be used for welfare schemes of war heroes and their families. The government also clarified that as in the previous year, there would be no bar on remembering those who died during the civil war but the authorities would not allow any event to hail the LTTE.
Welcoming the government’s move, the Eelam People’s Democratic Party leader Douglas Devananda reiterated his position for removing memorials that were installed in the North.