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Last updated: 07 March, 2011 - Published 14:20 GMT
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Military HQ in LTTE graveyard

The LTTE graveyard in Kopay, Jaffna (file photo)
The LTTE graveyard was destroyed by the army last year
It has emerged that a new military divisional headquarters in northern Sri Lanka has been built on the site of a Tamil Tiger graveyard that was earlier flattened by the army.

The construction has come in for sharp criticism from a Tamil politician.

But the army says it was building on government land having vacated private land on official instructions.

The army website has a full illustrated account of Friday’s opening of the new headquarters for the 51 Division at Kopay, near Jaffna.

Troops stand to attention, a sapling is planted and a plaque is unveiled by the smiling army chief, General Jagath Jayasuriya.

Graveyard destroyed

The website said it was declared open “amidst religious rites and rituals”.

But it did not mention that on the same spot there used to stand a cemetery built by the Tamil Tiger militants but destroyed by the army last year.

 How can the government build national reconciliation like this?
MK Sivajilingam, former MP

Tamil nationalists have already criticised the destruction of other Tiger graveyards in past years.

A former MP, MK Shivajilingam, said he was shocked because there were about 2,000 bodies of Tiger fighters on the site and there had been twice that number of memorial stones.

“How can the government build national reconciliation like this?” he said.

But the army chief, General Jayasuriya, told the BBC that having vacated its temporary premises in a Jaffna hotel, the 51 Division had to move to government land.

He said the military had been allocated this site which was owned by the Prisons Department, and he was “not aware of people expressing unhappiness”.

The body of LTTE leader's mother, Parvathi amma
Prabhakaran's mother's cremation site had been desecrated

Last year the government demolished the ancestral house of the late Tamil Tiger leader, Prabhakaran.

It says its policy is to wipe out any trace of the Tigers and ensure that their violence is forgotten.

It has however built several memorials to fallen government soldiers.

When they controlled much of the north, the Tamil Tigers departed from the Hindu tradition of cremation and built large graveyards which experts say was part of a cult of martyrdom.

Prabhakaran's widowed 81-year-old mother died last month and a report a few days later said her cremation site had been desecrated.

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