Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day

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Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day
Official name முள்ளிவாய்க்கால் நினைவு நாள்
Observed by Sri Lankan Tamils
Date 18 May
Next time 18 May 2019 (2019-05-18)
Frequency annual

Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day (or simply Mullivaikkal Day; Tamil: முள்ளிவாய்க்கால் நினைவு நாள் Muḷḷivāykkāl Niṉaivu Nāḷ) is a remembrance day observed by Sri Lankan Tamil people to remember those who died in the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War. It is held each year on 18 May, the date on which the civil war ended in 2009, and is named after Mullivaikkal, a village on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka which was the scene of the final battle of the civil war.


Labour Party MP Charles Chauvel lighting a candle on Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand
Uthayan staff donating blood on Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day 2013 in Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Between 1983 and 2009 Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fought against the Sri Lankan state to create an independent state of Tamil Eelam in the north and east of Sri Lanka. By 2007 the civil war had cost an estimated 70,000 lives.[1] The final months of the civil war in late 2008/early 2009 witnessed particularly brutal fighting between the Sri Lankan military and the LTTE.[2][3] Around 300,000 civilians were trapped between the two sides.[4] The civil war ended on 18 May 2009 with the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the LTTE.[5] A United Nations report found that as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final months of the civil war, mostly as a result of indiscriminate shelling by the Sri Lankan military.[6][7][8] There are widespread allegations that both sides committed atrocities and human rights violations including war crimes.[9][10][11] The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is currently investigating the alleged war crimes.[12][13]

Commemoration banned[edit]

The Sri Lankan government, which has declared 18 May as Victory Day, celebrates the day with military parades.[14] The day is also a commemoration for dead military personnel who are treated as "war heroes".[15] However, there is no official commemoration for the thousands of Tamil civilians killed in the civil war despite the government's own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission recommending that all the war's dead be commemorated on National Day (4 February).[16][17] Instead, the government has virtually banned Tamils from commemorating their war dead.[18][19] In the run up to 18 May security is tightened in the Tamil dominated Northern and Eastern provinces and schools and universities are closed to prevent any public commemoration.[20][21][22]

The government and its security forces regard any commemoration by Tamils to be commemoration of the LTTE, not civilians.[23] The security forces claim that Tamils may commemorate dead LTTE members in private but there have been reports of the military entering homes to prevent commemoration.[24][25]

Remembrance day[edit]

Despite the security restrictions Tamils in Sri Lanka hold small events on 18 May, which they call Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day, to commemorate their dead.[26][27][28] However, public commemorations are dealt harshly by the Sri Lankan security forces.[29][30] Tamil politicians have been arrested for commemorating Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day.[31][32]

In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a number of political parties, youth organizations, social movement groups etc. engage themselves in organizing a number of remembrance events across the state. [33][34][35]

Amongst the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, where there are no restrictions on commemorating Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day, large public gatherings are held.[36][37][38][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Buerk, Roland (16 July 2007). "Defiant Tigers cling to last bastion". BBC News. 
  2. ^ Harrison, Frances (11 October 2012). "The broken survivors of Sri Lanka's civil war". BBC News. 
  3. ^ "UN chief announces Sri Lanka trip". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Agence France Presse. 19 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "UN must investigate Sri Lanka rights violations". Amnesty International. 17 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Hull, C. Bryson; Sirilal, Ranga (18 May 2009). "Fighting ends, rebel leader Prabhakaran dead". Die Welt. 
  6. ^ Aneez, Shihar; Sirilal, Ranga (7 April 2014). "Sri Lanka won't cooperate U.N. war crime probe: foreign minister". Reuters. 
  7. ^ Lynch, Colum (22 April 2011). "U.N.: Sri Lanka's crushing of Tamil Tigers may have killed 40,000 civilians". Washington Post. 
  8. ^ "UN: Sri Lanka mass deaths may be 'war crimes'". Al Jazeera. 25 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Davidson, Helen (5 February 2014). "Sri Lankan security forces destroyed evidence of war crimes, report claims". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ "Q&A: Post-war Sri Lanka". BBC News. 20 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Welch, Dylan (26 October 2011). "Fraser supports call for Sri Lanka war crimes inquiry". The Age. 
  12. ^ "United Nations launches Sri Lanka war crimes inquiry; Australia declines to support resolution". ABC News (Australia). Agence France-Presse. 28 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Buncombe, Andrew (27 March 2014). "UN launches official investigation into Sri Lankan war crimes". The Independent. 
  14. ^ "War memorial events banned in North". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 11 May 2014. 
  15. ^ Dias, Supun (12 May 2010). "Week-long programme to mark war heroes' week". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 
  16. ^ "Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation" (PDF). Government of Sri Lanka. November 2011. pp. 387–388. 
  17. ^ Perera, Jehan (29 October 2013). "The rational quest for mutually beneficial solutions starts now". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  18. ^ Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka (PDF). United Nations. 31 March 2011. p. 80. 
  19. ^ "Victims or active agents of change?". Ceylon Today. 18 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Perera, Melani Manel (13 May 2014). "Sri Lanka preparing Victory Day but only the south will celebrate". AsiaNews. 
  21. ^ "SL military wants Jaffna University shut down on Mu'l'livaaykkaal Day". TamilNet. 6 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Jaffna University To Close On May 18". The Sunday Leader. 11 May 2014. 
  23. ^ "No War Commemoration Allowed in Lanka North". The New Indian Express. Press Trust of India. 11 May 2014. 
  24. ^ "Sri Lanka bans commemoration of Tiger rebels". Khaleej Times. Agence France-Presse. 11 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "Living with insecurity: Marginalization and sexual violence against women in north and east Sri Lanka". Minority Rights Group International. 16 October 2013. p. 13. 
  26. ^ "Sri Lanka Tamils defy ban on rebel memorial". Arab News. Agence France-Presse. 19 May 2013. 
  27. ^ Srinivasan, Meera (10 May 2014). "Sri Lanka seizes ammunition". The Hindu. 
  28. ^ "Mu'l'livaaykkaal Remembrance observed in Vanni". TamilNet. 19 May 2012. 
  29. ^ "SL police disrupts elected councillors from conducting Mu'l'livaaykkaal Remembrance". TamilNet. 16 May 2014. 
  30. ^ Mohan, Sulochana Ramiah. "TAK to commemorate war dead". Ceylon Today. 
  31. ^ "SL Police arrests TNPF politicians on Mu'l'livaaykkaal Remembrance Day in Mannaar". TamilNet. 18 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "15 arrested for allegedly marking Prabha's death". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 19 May 2013. 
  33. ^ "Idea of the Tamil struggle cannot be killed': Kashmiri Leader". TamilNet. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  34. ^ "TN Mu'l'livaaykkaal Remembrance meeting condemns Indian-West complicity in genocide". TamilNet. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  35. ^ "Events across Tamil Nadu mark Mullivaikkal massacre". Tamil Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  36. ^ "British MPs call for war crimes probes at Mu'l'livaaykkaal Remembrance". TamilNet. 20 May 2010. 
  37. ^ "International probe into Sri Lanka's war crimes urged at British rally". TamilNet. 19 May 2011. 
  38. ^ "Independent international investigation on Sri Lanka called for at London event". TamilNet. 20 May 2012. 
  39. ^ "Diaspora Tamils observe Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal Genocide remembrance events". TamilNet. 19 May 2013.