Friday, 29 November 2013

Jaffna, Sri Lanka - A Heritage Tragedy of War

Jaffna (Tamil: யாழ்ப்பாணம் Yalpanam, Sinhala: යාපනය Yāpanaya) is the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.  With a population of 88,138, Jaffna is Sri Lanka's 12th largest city. Jaffna is approximately six miles away from Kandarodai which served as a famous emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical antiquity. Jaffna's suburb, Nallur served as the capital of the four centuries-long medieval Jaffna kingdom. Prior to the Sri Lankan civil war, it was Sri Lanka's second most populated city after the commercial capital Colombo.

Since the 1980s insurgent uprising, military occupation, extensive damage, expulsion and depopulation has happened. 
(Dutch Fort- extensively damaged during Civil War) 
Historically, Jaffna has been a contested city. It was made into a colonial port town during the Portuguese occupation of the Jaffna peninsula in 1619. It changed hands to the Dutch colonials, who lost it to the British in 1796.

After Sri Lanka gained independence 1948, the political relationship between the minority Sri Lankan Tamils and majority Sinhalese worsened and after the Black July pogrom, civil war erupted in 1983. Jaffna was occupied by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1986 and from 1989 until 1995. Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) briefly occupied the city in 1987. The Sri Lankan military gained control in 1995.

Much of Jaffna's historic and heritage buildings were extensively destroyed during the Civil War.  It is truly heartbreaking to see the losses.

(1880's British Governor's Mansion)

 It is home to the popular Jaffna library that was burnt down in 1981 and has been rebuilt.

Jaffna Library - 31st May 1981
28th November, 2013

An abandoned home

Mercifully, many of the old Churches managed to survive, but there is little local interest in their preservation.  Minority religions

St Martin's Seminary

Another building to survive the ravages of war and time is the Mandrimanai (Minister's House). During the existence of Nallur Rajadhani, last king of the kingdom of the people in the northern part of the country was Sankiliyan.But with the arrival of the Portuguese rule in Sri Lanka the fall of the kingdom was inevitable.

The arch was found in the land where the earlier Tamil King Sangiliyan's Palace stood. Now there is an entrance-arch, but this is said to be part of a later Dutch building.

We are always quick to reflect on the human tragedies of war, but are also quick to dismiss the tragedies of destroying one's heritage, regardless of race, culture or religion.

Jaffna has slowly risen from the ashes to become a bustling city, however the conflicting religious and cultural issues that caused the Civil War are still simmering

No comments:

Post a Comment