Civilian life of Sri Lanka's Northern Province normalizing slowly after military defeat of rebels

(August 07, 2009 -Lanka Polity) More than 100,000 of people reportedly flocked into the Duraiappa esplanade in Jaffna in Northern Province of Sri Lanka to see the Sri Lankan and Indian Tamil singers perform after a long time in the cultural capital of Sri Lankan Tamils.Duraiappa was a mayor of the city who was gunned down by the rebels, marking the beginning of the bloody civil strife that took around 80,000 lives in a span of three decades.

The musical show was organized by the government parallel to the elections for the Jaffna Municipal Council.The residents of Jaffna have limited freedom for cultural activities since the peninsula is under curfew in each night for years. Government has deployed 40,000 military personnel, 99% Sinhalese, to guard the Tamil dominated city. The Army to civilian ratio is one tenth there, sources say. Government media say that the tight security has been eased now for the benefit of the residents.

Following the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), that had a great influence over the Tamil populace of the country, Sri Lanka's Sinhala majority dominated government is trying to re-merge the Tamil polity to the socio-economic main stream, however without granting solutions for their long standing political demands of the minority ethnicities.

A process of gradual normalization is being taken place in the country and the government is slowly easing the sanctions that had been imposed on the Tamil dominated areas for many years. The major highway to Jaffna was once opened last week for the passengers to travel in buses. They have to make a long sea journey from Trincomalee in a ship otherwise. The affluent sections pay a high airfare to fly to Jaffna.

All vehicles to and from Northern Province are sanctioned to cross Medawachchiya checkpoint in the North Central Province and travel and transport is carried out end to end. However, the government said yesterday that the vehicles with essential commodities would be allowed to cross the checkpoint without a special pass.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the government allowed 1100 internally displaced people that were held in camps in Vavuniya to return to their villages in Jaffna, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Ampara districts. However, no civilians of Kilinochchi and Vauniya districts have been resettled yet. The government has promised to rehabilitate and resettle around 80% of the 280,000 war displaced people by the end of this year. De-mining is carried out with the assistance of the government of India.

However, the screening for the Tamil Tiger sympathizers in IDP camps is still underway and the police last week arrested Kilinochchi District Secretary Nagalingam Vedanayagam for having association with the LTTE.


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