A Sri Lankan rights group known as Networking for Rights (NfR) alleges that the reason for the recent murder of Markandu Sivalingam, the deputy director of education of the Valikamam zone in Jaffna, was because he openly criticized the government’s policy of having the national anthem sung only in Sinhala.
“Criticizing the policy of the government to recite the national anthem only in Sinhala is a right of any Sri Lankan,” an NfR statement said. “Killing a person for expressing his disapproval of such a policy is not only a violation of his freedom of expression but also of his right to life.”
According to NfR, the government has issued a circular prior to a ceremony to commemorate the Asian tsunami of 2004 that called for Jaffna school children, who are primarily from the Tamil ethnic minority, to sing the national anthem in Sinhala, the language spoken by the majority ethnic group. Sivalingam had openly expressed his opposition to that government decision, and NfR claims it was that opposition that resulted in his murder.
In a response to the NfR accusations, the government issued a statement Thursday denying all allegations and the existence of such a circular.
“We wish to state that no circular to this effect has been issued by any government authority, and as such, the alleged criticism of such a circular by the deceased could not have taken place,” the statement said.
The murder took place Sunday around 11:30 p.m. Based on information revealed by NfR, Sivalingam was reportedly killed inside his home at point-blank range by a group of unidentified armed men in front of his daughter.
The government stated that the Jaffna police are currently conducting an investigation.