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April 17, 2009
Q&A: Ask your questions about Sri Lanka’s civil war

The Red Cross is warning of a catastrophe as the government launches a “final” assault against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE ), who ignored the government’s calls for surrender and are now cornered in a small piece of coastal territory

Tens of thousands of civilians are caught in the crossfire, although some 50,000 others escaped to government-controlled areas. Both the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government have been accused of humanitarian abuses.

The Tamil Tigers have long fought for an independent state for Sri Lanka’s Tamil ethnic minority, which is often at odds with the majority Sinhalese community. Seen by some as a prototype for modern terrorism, the Tamil Tigers pioneered the suicide bomb jacket and the use of women in suicide attacks.

The 25-year civil war is one of Asia’s longest-running conflicts, and was more deadly than the war in Afghanistan last year.’s weekly radio show explored the root causes of conflict and life in Sri Lanka.

Thank you for your questions. Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosted a panel of guests:

Rohan Gunaratna is the head of Singapore’s International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. He is a senior fellow at the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy’s Jebsen Centre for Counter Terrorism Studies and at the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism in Oklahoma. He was invited to testify before the 9-11 Commission on the structure of al-Qaeda and is the author and editor of 12 books including “Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror.”

Ahilan Kadirgamar is a spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum and contributing editor of Himal Southasian magazine. In that capacity he has worked on the peace process in Sri Lanka. His interests include state reform in Sri Lanka and political solutions to the ethnic conflict. He has written about the international dimension of the peace process and worked on human rights concerns related to the conflict.

Jeffrey Lunstead is a former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. He entered the Foreign Service in 1977 and has also served in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Malaysia. He also served at the State Department as the chief of South Asia analysis, director for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and as Afghanistan coordinator. He is the author of “The U.S. in the Sri Lanka Peace Process” and “Big Powers and Small Conflicts: The U.S. and Sri Lanka.”




the entire world talks about democracy, human rights, about peace, and about spirituality. What is ahppening in Sri Lanka is a human catastrophe – a genocide against minority Tamils who are asking for an independent state. The Govt in power have total disregard for innocent lives. The army are mercilessly going on a killing spree, they rape innocent women and young girls, etc. Where is the rest of the world leaders to condem the Sri Lanka Govt? No, the world supports the Govt becuase the LTTE is recognized as a terrorist organ. There is gross human rights abuses taking place. The law of Karma will take its cause. This world we live in will NEVER be at peace for as long economics rule. War is about finding a market for our artillery.


Where did you find these people (Ahilan Kathirkamar and Rohan Gunaratne)?. I guess world Focus did not do the homework. Ahilan Kathirkamar is member of the Anti-LTTE group (EPRLF) member and Rohan Gunaratne is a self made “terrorism expert” and well known in the GOSL circle. These people have no clue on the Tamil suffering. I do watch your TV program on PBS everyday (7:.00 pm – NJ). It is a very informative program on world affairs. Please do your researches on your guests before you put them on your program?


You don’t have any true Tamils who can speak for innocents tamills or even Diaspora Tamils around the world. How did you choose these people? There all are supporters of the singalease government of Sri Lanka.


Jeffrey Lunstead a long-time Cheer Leader for the Sri Lanka (Sinhala) govt says ” (the SL) govt is a govt” and suggests whatever it does is okay. So going by that, can we say the Zimbabwe (Robert Mugabe) govt, Saddam Hussein’s govt, M.Ahmadinejad (Iran) govt, North Korea govt is a govt is a govt and so they too should be able to get away with oppression, etc?????


While I am thankful for this program focusing on SL, I am very disappointed and unhappy that you didn’t choose an appropriate person to talk on behalf of Tamils. I hope you won’t make this mistake in the future.


For the TRUE Tamil Voice, please visit these websites >



You should have asked any of your panel member whether he has ever been in the Tamil areas of that island. It angers me in the time of great suffering of tamils to see three people who would have never had any real touch with the tamils suffering in the country were invited by your media to talk about what is going on and what should be done. I will boycott your program in the future for its onesided panel in “disgusting” the issue.


Mr. Akilan Kadirgamar was the nephew of Late Sri Lankan Foreign Minister (from current president’s party). He with few other “Tamils” are speaking for “Tamils” in the disapora.

Mr. Rohan Gunaratna, an ethnic sinhalase and his “expertise” is well known in sinhala nationalist media.

Mr. Lunstead was the guy who in the senate hearing voiced the same “government is a government” phrase.

It was irony and makes me angry when a person like Mr. Gunaratne tried to explain who represent Tamils. it is very humilitaing for every Tamil around the world when a person like Mr. Gunaratne tried to talk for Tamils.

Why can’t you do your homework for a balanced panel for discussing an issue rather than bringing three people with similar agenda? Utter Disappointing!


Interesting guests. with knowing their backgrounds, their stands and loyalty, I am dead sure they have voiced strongly for government of sri lanka. Why can’t you get a single person who can voice for the other side? Sad. :-(


Would the Sri Lanka (Sinhalese) Govt/Army have fired artillery/mortar shells and indiscriminate aerial bombings, cluster bombing and chemical weapons if the civilians were actually Sinhalese? (The answer is NO.)

The SL govt can lie as much as it wants. But Tamils living outside Sri Lanka know the truth. They know what is really happening because they have relatives who have been killed and injured in the North-East area of Sri Lanka. Many in the Tamil Diaspora have been victims of Sri Lankan State terror / Army atrocities.



The whole world is making a grave mistake by sitting idle and let innocent children, men and women die at the hands of the Siri-Loko government. War is a horrible thing and it must be stopped. Where is the United Nations? Is Sri Lanka forgotten? Please some one should tell the government to stop killing unarmed civilians by any means and give peace a chance.


i want to know between with government and other side .


Why did the Sri Lankan government put the ban on NGO’S, UN, MEDIA’S AND INTERNATIONAL AID WORKERS from the war zone? What are they trying to hide? International presence in the warzone is a must to really see what is being taken place.

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