Sri Lanka

Written by  //  May 24, 2009  //  Asia, India, Rights & Social justice  //  Comments Off on Sri Lanka

Al Jazeera Q&A: Sri Lanka’s civil war ; Sri Lanka on

(CBC) Sri Lanka’s president on Sunday rejected a call by the United Nations secretary general to lift restrictions on aid delivery to overcrowded displacement camps, saying the army must first finish screening the hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees. More
21 May
SRI LANKA: What’s Next For the Tamil Community?
COLOMBO (IPS) – Nearly three decades of war ended in Sri Lanka last week and a victorious President Mahinda Rajapaksa has extended a fresh hand of friendship to the minority Tamils, but most members of this community feel it will take a long time for the wounds to heal after years of mistrust and alienation.
The end of Sri Lanka’s war: The corpse of the Tigers
(The Economist) WHEN Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, declared victory over the ruthless Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a speech to parliament on May 19th, he should have addressed a full house. In fact, over 20 opposition chairs in the 225-seat chamber were frostily vacant. Keeping away were members of the Tamil National Alliance, the largest group of parties representing the Tamil minority, elected in the north and east of the island. It was a reminder to a triumphant government of an unhappy truth: the Tigers may be dead, but the bitter ethnic divisions that fuelled the 26-year war live on.  And will certainly be aggravated by the policy proposed below.
Brian Stewart: Why the West ignored the Tamils’ pleas
Sri Lanka may keep civilians in camps for 2 years during Tamil screening
Many of the nearly quarter-million people being held in Sri Lankan refugee camps, where conditions are reported to be dangerous and deplorable, will remain there for two years, according to the Sri Lankan government. Despite assurances to the UN to return 80% of the civilians by the end of the year, Sri Lankan authorities have said their priority will be to screen for Tamil rebel elements. The Guardian (London) (5/20)
20 May
Sri Lanka facing up to wages of victory in civil war

In the wake of a quarter century of civil war that has cost billions of dollars and 70,000 lives, Sri Lanka must face the task of reconciliation between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil. Though President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the military can claim credit for a head-on approach to the Tamil Tigers’ insurgency — one that provided the template for many terrorist tactics in use today — the Sri Lankan defeat of the rebel has come at the cost of lives and democratic values and has not solved the ethnic resentment that underwrote the conflict. Los Angeles Times (5/20) , TIME (5/20)
18 May
After 70,000 dead, Tigers surrender in war-weary Sri Lanka
(Globe & Mail) The 26-year civil war that has fractured Sri Lanka has come to a horrific close, with the surviving Tamil Tiger rebel leaders declaring an end to their struggle to build a breakaway military state, their all-controlling leader reported dead, and their dwindling rump of fighters surrounded by the burnt corpses of thousands of civilians.
(FP Morning Brief) The defeat is a stunning fall for the Tigers, who controlled a third of the island’s territory as little as two years ago, but the rebels have previously vowed that if they lost the conventional war, they would return to their guerilla roots.
More battles ahead for Sri Lanka

(Asia Times) The Sri Lankan government has declared victory in its fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, with the rebels themselves conceding defeat in their 25-year-old struggle. Off the battlefield, though, Colombo is under heavy international criticism over humanitarian issues, to the extent it could lose out on much-needed foreign loans.
The war may be ending, but the struggle will go on
(The Independent) Sri Lanka’s leaders must now reach out to the Tamil community
Between 50,000 and 100,000 Tamil civilians who have been trapped in the war zone are expected to surge into refugee camps as the Sri Lankan army moves in to secure the conflict area. Those camps, which are already over-crowded, are likely to be swamped, threatening an outbreak of disease and malnutrition. Rather than celebrating, the Sri Lankan government needs to concentrate on providing food, water and medication for these refugees. And while military operations might be over, the struggle for the future of Sri Lanka remains unresolved. The heavy loss of civilian life in the north in recent months – up to 3,000 according to some estimates – has caused great bitterness among the Tamil community.
Tigers finished as military force
(BBC) The Tamil Tigers have been fighting against the Sri Lankan state for more than 25 years, led from the beginning by the elusive and dictatorial Vellupillai Prabhakaran. Suicide bombing has been a speciality – their victims included Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.The Tigers also allowed no political opposition within Tamil society – opponents were killed, and dissent was stifled. But at times they enjoyed substantial military success. In the past, they have controlled significant tracts of northern and eastern Sri Lanka, establishing the trappings of an independent country – including courts and a police force – in areas they regard as the traditional Tamil homeland.
Sri Lanka: Can Tamil Tigers go on without their leader?
(CSM) The main challenge now, analysts say, is to work out a negotiated settlement for Sri Lanka’s Tamil community, who make up 18 percent of the population, and on whose behalf the Tamil Tigers claim to be fighting.
“The military phase of the war will end soon, and Sri Lanka will witness a post-conflict phase,” says Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives. “Now work must begin to give Tamils must be given democratic space.” The Sri Lankan government has yet to announce a blueprint for such a negotiated settlement with Tamils.

Lonely Planet

Doug Saunders: Tamil Tigers failed to learn from tsunami tragedy
(Globe & Mail) The 2004 Boxing Day wave brought death to northern Sri Lanka. Again this bit of sand serves as a platform for gruesome sacrifice
They would not learn from this tragedy. Over the next five years, as their world collapsed around them, the LTTE would force its people here, onto this beach strip, into tent cities that would be strafed, shelled and bombed by Colombo’s forces. This bit of miserable sand has served as a platform for gruesome sacrifice in a closed society that has made death its only currency.
(BBC) The conflict has now killed well in excess of 70,000 people, displaced tens of thousands more and held back the island’s growth and economic development. The death toll of civilians in 2009 overall could run into the thousands, the UN and aid agencies say. Both the military and the Tigers have been regularly accused of gross abuses of human rights by organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Sri Lanka’s defence expenditure has soared in recent years – to 166.4bn rupees ($1.48bn) in 2008. This amounts to about 5% of GDP, nearly double that spent by India and Pakistan.
17 May
Devoted to the cause
(Toronto Sun) Toronto is home to the largest Tamil diaspora in the world. But their increasing number of rallies and marches through the downtown core, tying up traffic and inconveniencing commuters, is beginning to try the city’s patience. It hasn’t helped that so many protesters are openly waving red flags that show a tiger bursting through a ring of bullets and two crossed rifles, the disquieting militaristic symbol so closely associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam — the Tamil Tigers branded a terrorist organization by Canada and most of the Western world.

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