The horrendous death and conditions of the funeral of Nimalaruban, a young Tamil man from the north of Sri Lanka, graphically illustrate the ongoing brutality and repression in Sri Lanka at the hands of the dictatorial Rajapaksa regime. The rights of Tamil-speaking people continue to be trampled, with huge numbers still held in detention camps, a growing population of political prisoners denied all rights and a military occupation taking place, in all but name, in the north.
Nimalaruban was killed inside the Mahara prison on 3 July following an assault by the armed forces. But later Ruban’s dead body was handed over to Ragama hospital – with claims that he had died in the government hospital. After that, at the request of the prison authorities, Kadawatha District Court, a suburb of Colombo, ruled that his funeral should take place in the hospital premises in Colombo itself without his parents’ consent.
However, an appeal was made by his mother to the supreme court requesting that the last rites be conducted in Nimalaruban’s home town in Vavuniya. After three weeks the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka gave the order in favour of his mother’s request to take the body to Vavuniya for the funeral. Then more than 500 police were deployed around his house on the funeral day. Even the funeral notice that was pasted on the walls near the house of Nimalaruban was removed by the police and no funeral oration was allowed.
Nimalaruban was taken to custody after the war while he was travelling on a motorbike with his friend in his home town area. Since then he was kept in the Vavuniya prison for more than three years without any charges. Ruban was a past pupil of the Vavuniya Nerakkulam Tamil kalaimagal maha vidyalayam and at the time of his death he was just 28 years of age. He was the only son in a very poor family which has been absolutely devastated by his death.
The Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC) demands that the culprits who killed Ruban should be brought in front of the law. At the same time the CMC also demands that the government must give proper medical attention to other inmates who are critically injured after being brutally attacked by military forces.
The funeral of Nimalaruban took place in the Nerakkulam in Vavuniya on 24 July with many Tamil politicians participating including Tamil MPs Suresh Premachandran and Selvan Adaikkalanadan. The only politicians from the south to attend were Mano Ganeshan, leader of Democratic People’s Front and Siritunga Jayasuriya, general secretary of the United Socialist Party (USP). A press conference was held in Vavuniya town before the funeral.
The United Socialist Party stated that it opposes this vicious regime and all its attacks on the democratic rights of all in Sri Lanka. The USP has been involved in the campaign against the ‘land grab’ taking place in the north, traditional Tamil areas – but also in all the struggles to resist the oppression of democratic rights and imposition of neoliberal attacks on wages, pensions, education and other services.