Colombo, Jan 5 (): Nanthi Kadal, on Sri Lanka’s north coast was the focal area where the tyrannical Sri Lankan Army staged all its atrocities against innocent civilians and Tamil tigers, LTTE in 2009. It is the very site that has been claimed by UN as the place where Sinhalese army men committed inhuman and brutal crimes against humanity and killed thousands of innocent Tamils.
The Sri Lankan Army has opened holiday homes in this area. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his brother, the defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse have opened a teak villa called Lagoon’s Edge in the war-torn region. The walls of the villa are decorated with war memorabilia, according to sources.
The inaugural ceremony of the villa was marked by performances of traditional Kandyan drummers, a mark of Sinhalese culture but totally alien to this solely Tamil section of the island. A Sinhalese newspaper promotes Lagoon’s Edge as a “place where thousands of war heroes, terrorists and others died.”
Fred Carver of Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice observes it as showcasing war tourism from the perspective of victors and Sri Lanka’s attempt to invite the world to ‘come and see’ the place where they put LTTE leader Prabhakaran to death. Mr Carver’s concern is that the kind of heavy push the Sri Lankan army is making in tourism in general, with them already owning a number of hotels and wildlife sanctuaries.
Jono Vernon-Powell, managing director of the tour operator Nomadic Thoughts questions the appropriateness of the tourism project which is located in the very site where inhuman abuses were heaped on Tamils.
Other new and popular tourist destination in the north of the island are an underground bunker, once home to the LTTE supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran. Yet another tourist attraction is a shipyard where the Tiger rebels carried out trials on building submersibles.
It is mainly the domestic tourists from the southern region who are visiting these tourist ‘hot spots’ in war-torn north.
With no proper reconciliation measures in place for the displaced Eelam Tamils and no way-forwards to address discrimination of Tamils in their own home land, Sri Lanka is yet again showing its vicious face of promoting war tourism in post-conflict Sri Lanka, sidelining the cause of Tamils.