Sri Lanka Military Parade Marks War Anniversary

Sri Lanka is marking the three-year anniversary of the end of its long civil war with a large military parade in the capital, Colombo.

Sri Lanka is marking the three-year anniversary of the end of its long civil war with a large military parade in the capital, Colombo.

Thousands of members of the armed forces are taking part in a parade to mark their victory over Tamil rebels

President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave a speech at the event, which commemorates soldiers who fought against Tamil Tiger rebels, or the LTTE.

Critics say the celebratory nature of the military parade is inappropriate.

R Sampanthan, leader of the main Tamil party, said the "triumphalism" over the war should end.

"The LTTE [Tamil Tigers] has been defeated. That is the reality that everybody knows. And celebrating a military victory year after year is not going to be helpful from the point of view of reconciliation," he said.

Banned memorials

On Friday, a leader of the university students' union in the Tamil-dominated town of Jaffna was beaten with iron bars as he attended a memorial event for the thousands of civilians believed to have died in the final months of the war.

In the past, the government has banned several similar memorials.

Sri Lanka's civil war began in the 1980s, with Tamils pressing for self-rule against a backdrop of an increasingly assertive Sinhalese nationalism.

Most of the fighting took place in the Tamil-dominated north, but the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE, also carried out suicide bombings in Colombo in the 1990s.

The violence killed more than 70,000 people over several decades, with accusations that both sides in the conflict committed war crimes against civilians.