Friday, June 15, 2007

Sri Lanka : The War That Never Ends

4800 Killed In Since Late 2005

More Than 1000 Tamil Civilians Kidnapped, Killed, In 18 Months

While the Tamil Tigers independence movement continues to unleash its bloody, explosive war against Sri Lankan government forces, more than 1000 mainly Tamil civilians have been kidnapped, many killed, in the past 18 months.

Mano Ganesan, a Tamil MP, is in a potentially dangerous situation. He believes the Sri Lankan government is at least indirectly responsible for the waves of kidnappings, but while in Colombo, at least, he is sometimes reluctant to raise the issue.

Like many prominent Tamils, Ganesan is afraid of being kidnapped and killed himself. In a bizarre irony, he is 'protected' from becoming a victim of the shadowy forces he believes operates within the Sri Lankan government by a security detail.

But the security guards are provided by the very same government he believes is responsible for the terrorising kidnappings.

Excerpts from a story
in the New York Times follow, giving an overview of the Sri Lankan conflict, if you haven't been keeping track of what's going on over.

While the battle between the Tamil Tigers independence movement and Sri Lankan government military and special forces rarely gets the media coverage devoted to the conflicts in the Middle East, the fighting in Sri Lanka is certainly serious, and deadly enough.

At least 4800 fighters and civilians have been reportedly killed in less than two years, and today more than 15,000 people are waiting to flee their homeland by boat.

Excerpts from a report filed from Jaffna, featured in the New York Times :

At least 15,000 are waiting to get on government ships to the relative safety of Colombo, the capital.

This is Jaffna, the picturesque prize of Sri Lanka’s ethnic civil war, girding for a new storm. The army commander for the area, Maj. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri, said he expected a major battle for Jaffna before the August monsoon.

No other place in Sri Lanka is so scarred because no place carries Jaffna’s special curse: it is the heart of the homeland that the Tamil Tigers have fought to carve out, and the trophy that soldiers and rebels have fought over for nearly 25 years.

A 2002 cease-fire, which had stanched the bloodshed for a time, has collapsed. For a year, fighting has spread across the island between the Sri Lankan military, dominated by the ethnic Sinhalese majority, and the separatist force called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

According to the Defense Ministry, more than 4,800 people, civilians and fighters, have been killed since December 2005. Though the number is not entirely reliable, it points to a significantly lethal period even by the standards of this long, ugly war.

It is likely to continue. Peace talks are nowhere on the horizon. Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Sri Lanka’s influential defense secretary, says the military is under instructions to eliminate the rebel leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and eradicate his organization once and for all.

“That’s our main aim, to destroy the leadership,” Mr. Rajapakse said in an interview in May. The job, he said, would take two to three years.

Pressure from abroad has done little to temper either side’s ambitions. The Tamil Tigers, banned in many countries, including the United States, upped the ante this spring by carrying out air raids with modified two-seater propeller planes. Britain and the United States, which extended a hand after the devastating tsunami of December 2004, have suspended aid.

The Tamil Tigers regularly deploy suicide bombers. Journalists, diplomats and aid workers face hostile scrutiny for any criticism of the security forces. On a Sunday morning in April, a young reporter for a Tamil-language newspaper in Jaffna was shot and killed as he rode his bicycle to work. In May, fliers appeared at Jaffna University, containing a hit list of people accused of being rebel sympathizers.

A new fear also stalks Jaffna, more ominous than any its people recall from the past: mysterious abductions usually carried out during the curfew hours. No one is quite sure who is being taken, for what reason, by whom. Sometimes, bodies turn up on the street. More often, they do not turn up at all.

The Human Rights Commission, a government agency, said it received 805 complaints of abductions in Jaffna from December 2005 to April 2007; the army says it is aware of 230 abductions.

June 4 : Tamil Tigers Attack Army Bases, 82 Killed

Tamil Tiger Propaganda Is Terrorism?

Heavy Fighting Continues In North And East Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Navy Accused Of Killing Aid Worker

September 2006 : Dozens Of Soldiers Die In Sri Lanka Fighting, 200,000 Civilians Flee To Refugee Camps