The Jaffna Peninsula was formerly dotted with a number of memorials and other landmarks associated with the LTTE which have now been destroyed following the end of the war. Prabhakaran’s childhood home was one such place, formerly attracting a steady stream of visitors, many of whom recorded panegyrics to the great leader in graffiti on the walls (the more enthusiastic visiting LTTE cadres used to write messages in their own blood). The house, which was already roofless, has now been razed completely, and a resident soldier will prevent you from even taking photographs of the now empty plot.

If the government’s decision to destroy Prabhakaran’s house to prevent it becoming an object of pilgrimage is understandable, its decision to bulldoze the enormous LTTE war cemetery at Kopai (along with other LTTE cemeteries elsewhere in the island) is less defensible. The cemetery formerly contained the graves of around two thousand fallen LTTE cadres, although these have now been destroyed and an army camp built on the site. The army claims that none of the graves actually contained any human remains and that the entire cemetery was in fact simply a massive LTTE propaganda exercise, although it’s difficult not to feel, irrespective of the graves’ actual contents, that razing such a place amounts to a pointless and barbaric act of desecration. The cemetery’s alleged power to inspire future freedom fighters is in any case far from certain – indeed the sobering sight of so many young Tamil dead might have provided future generations with a powerful image of the futility of war, and therefore have helped to ensure such a conflict never arises again.

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