Sri Lanka, June 13 (Reuters) – More than 100 people said to be former Tamil Tiger rebels were married on Sunday in a mass wedding ceremony as part of the government’s rehabilitation plans for ex-fighters after a 25-year separatist war.
“Bollywood” star Vivek Oberoi witnessed the mass wedding of 53 couples, who the government said had all fought to create a separate state for minority Tamils in the north and east of the Indian ocean island nation.
Ravichandra Rasikeshara, a 26-year-old who said he worked as a paramedic for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), married another former fighter, 22-year-old Thaksarani.
“We don’t want an Eelam (a separate state), we want freedom and a happy family life,” Ravichandra told Reuters.
The mass wedding came just over a year after Sri Lanka’s military declared victory in the war against the LTTE following a bloody final campaign.
More than 100,000 people died during the conflict.
All of those married are being held in military custody in the northern town of Vavuniya.
“The army will be providing them with food, medical care and other necessities until they are ready to start life,” Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe, the commissioner for rehabilitation, told Reuters by telephone from Vavuniya.
The military said more than 8,800 former rebels were being “rehabilitated” in government centres and that almost 3,000 others had been released since the end of the war in May 2009.
International human rights groups have urged the United Nations to investigate potential war crimes at the end of the war, charging that tens of thousands of people died in the final months. The government has repeatedly rejected the charges of civilian deaths as grossly exaggerated. (Writing by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Paul Tait)