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Last updated: 04 February, 2008 - Published 13:07 GMT
 
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Sri Lankan people 'live in fear'
 
Independence day celebrations in vavuniya
Vavuniya GA says independence celebrations are 'only a formality'
A senior Govt. official in Sri Lanka has questioned whether people are free to enjoy being an independent country.

Sri Lanka government celebrated 60 years since gaining independence from Great Britain on Monday.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa led the celebrations in the capital, Colombo.

Addressing the independence day celebrations, Vavuniya Government Agent (GA), S Shanmugam, said people all over the country live in fear.

People 'live in fear'

"It is a pleasure that we have got independence," he said, "but whether the people in this country enjoy the real independence is a question".

 Not only in the north and east, the people in the whole country live in fear. Is this the out come of a real independence? No. We have to do a lot to enjoy a real independence. Until then these celebrations are only a formality
 
Vavuniya GA, S Shanmugam

People in all over the country are frightened to move about freely, the GA added.

"Not only in the north and east, the people in the whole country live in fear. Is this the out come of a real independence? No. We have to do a lot to enjoy a real independence. Until then these celebrations are only a formality".

'Ethnic cleansing'

The Tamil Tigers have meanwhile echoed the views of the chief government official in Vavuniya.

LTTE political wing leader, B Nadesan, said that the Tamils would not be celebrating the anniversary.

 This is not a day of independence or this is not a day of celebration for our people. The Sri Lankan government still they are continuing its ethnic cleansing and mass killings among the Tamil people
 
LTTE political wing leader, B Nadesan

"This is not a day of independence or this is not a day of celebration for our people. The Sri Lankan government still they are continuing its ethnic cleansing and mass killings among the Tamil people," he told the BBC.

In the east, after nearly 12 years independent day was celebrated in all parts of the Battcaloa district.

Celebrations after 12 years

Independence day celebrations could not be held in some areas including Kokadicholai and Polipaindathal as the areas were under LTTE control until late last year.

Celebrations were held in all Divisional Secretariats in the district and the Sri Lankan flag was seen hoisted in all public places.

Celebrations were also held in police stations and Sri Lanka Army camps, journalist Shanthi Selvadorai said.

The main event was held in Batticaloa District Secretariat under the guidance of DS Sundaram Arumanayagam.

London protest

In London, Tamil Youth Forum has organised the protest march against the Sri Lankan government.

The protesters who gathered in front of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's official residence called on the British authorities to exert pressure on Sri Lanka to find a political solution accepted by all communities.

Sashie Peiris, representative of Solidarity for Peace told BBC Sandeshaya that protesters urged British authorities to help end Sri Lanka's bloodshed.

 
 
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