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April 21, 2009
Sri Lanka launches “final” assault against Tamil Tigers

For more than two decades, the government of Sri Lanka has been fighting a civil war with a rebel group known as the Tamil Tigers. Now, the war may be reaching a climax as the government launches a final assault in the last rebel-held area, after the Tamil Tigers ignored an ultimatum to surrender.

Violence is heating up in Sri Lanka’s north, in what’s left of a government no-fire zone near the town of Mullativu. Tens of thousands of civilians are caught in the middle of what the Red Cross calls a catastrophe, although some 50,000 others escaped to government-controlled areas.

Both sides have been accused of humanitarian abuses.

For more on the conflict, listen to our online radio show on Sri Lanka’s civil war.

As the government presses forward, protests are rising up around the world from London to Oslo to Ottawa — as Tamils living abroad demonstrate against the Sri Lankan offensive.

Below, watch a video of a protest at New York’s United Nations building in the U.S. Many of the Tamils present at the April 17 rally have family members in Sri Lanka, and often expressed varying opinions of the Tamil Tigers.

Bloggers in Sri Lanka have also reacted to the developments in the north.

On Monday, a blogger at the “Serving Sri Lanka” blog reacted as civilians escaped the conflict zone:

Today, as I watched thousands of helpless civilians flock to leave the no fire zone and enter the government controlled areas, the tragic scenes of the aftermath of the boxing day Tsunami flashed across my mind. Yes I believe that the situation is as grave or even worse now. I was trying to imagine what might be going through the minds of these frightened and weary looking human beings. They have suffered untold miseries during the past several months, their lives are uncertain even at this very moment, may be they have lost a loved one. What do they want? What could they want?

The answer may be as simple as a better tomorrow. The question is can we provide them that. If we are to win anything we must gradually improve their battered lives. Their condition should improve day by day. These are people who have suffered a life time. They have grievances, they have their doubts. We must allay them. We must provide them with a much better alternative and give them hope. We can not afford to wait. We should not think that it is the sole responsibility of the Government, the NGOs, the INGOs and the like.

I feel that it is my responsibility and duty as well. I can not for a second think that I am not responsible for their sad plight. I should take my fare share of blame as a Sri Lankan citizen for all the senseless deaths that have taken place in this bloody war of over thirty years. The military offensive may be nearing an end. The challenges of tomorrow I feel are colossal. At the very same time we are also presented with a tremendous opportunity for making Sri Lanka a better place for every one, irrespective of race, religion, cast or creed. Let us begin by going out of our way to make the lives of these suffering humans a better one. How soon we succeed in doing this will ensure how soon the healing and mending can begin.

Displaced civilians at a makeshift hospital in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan blogger Indrajit Samarajiva describes visiting the Vavuniya hospital in northern Sri Lanka to deliver medical supplies and other basic necessities:

Vavuniya town itself is a fully functional town. Big petrol shed, Cargill’s Food City, roads, buses, road construction. The hospital is a big greenish grey building near the center of town. It is one of the better equipped hospitals in the region and not directly in the warzone. However, it’s built for like 500 and there’s currently more than double that, plus their families. Looks like they could use more roll-out mattresses, water mattresses, pillows, sheets, clothes, etc.

A lot of women and children, lot of nursing mothers. Lot of limb wounds, bandaged feet, arms, etc. This is not meant to be political, but I would like to note that these people are Sri Lankan, they’re being treated in government hospitals and protected by our security forces. I’m Sinhalese and I’m not genocidal. I’m trying to live here and I do respect and look out for the Tamil people as my family and neighbors. There are literally millions of Sri Lankans like me. I just wish the LTTE would let its human shields go and accept amnesty. And let our people go.

Bobby,” a Sri Lankan living in Australia, comments about his own experience with the war:

I am Jaffna (sri lanka) born tamil. Been living in Australia for the last 15 years. I was in the civil war over there for the first 15 years of my life. War is not a nice thing to be in. I know the feeling. When the fighter jets bombing, ships from the ocean bombing and the army on the land bombing, what do you do? I have lost 2 of my cousins, 2 uncles killed by the Sri Lankan army. I can tell you right now they were innocent as you and me. One of my cousin who came from SL to Aust a year ago, brought a grade 3 school photo of me and him in the same class at a school in Jaffna (sri lanka). We looked through the picture and i asked my cousin ‘i remember this guy, i remember this guy’ cousin’s answers were ‘he is dead, he is dead. Finally, i found out that out of 30 boys on the picture 20 of them are dead.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user aquaview under a Creative Commons license.




I think SL gvt did what they had to do as too many civilians getting killed ( tamils & sinhalese )not only in the north also in the south. I lived most of my life with the war. I cannot remember a day without a news regarding LTTE related problems all my life. This has to end. There is a price to pay. I am sure SL GVT will try to ensure civilians do not get hurt but it must be very dificult to seperate and attack LTTE terrorists who we all know ready to die at any time with cyanide or suicide bombing when they hold civilians as a human shield.

Any way, at least we will hopefully see the end of those crazy murderes called LTTE. For that I’d thank The president and the SL army.

It is true if civilians getting killed because of the attacks, something has to be done. The only possible way is LTTE to have a total surrender. That is what happened during world wars, as u know when germany, japan surrenederd the war ended. I know this is a very differentworld wars, but the basics are the same. And personally I do not think LTTE care nabout civilians, so they may not surrender.



The LTTE only offered bullets and bombs. Peopel who feel that they are oppressed should think about supporting those that want to win rights by ballots rather than bullets.


Too bad the Tamils aren’t Muslims, because then the world would pay more attention to your claims to independent statehood, as it does to the Palestinians and the Kosovars. If you are Muslim, you are entitled to as many states as you want. Otherwise, you’re out of luck.


Thank you for publishing this news. At the same time please watch, in a single day more than 1500 civilians died.


Sri Lanka cannot wipe out Tamil Tigers. If the world have given the Tamil Tigers the equal playing field as the Government of Sri Lanka, a Tamil Nation might have born long time ago. GOSL went begging to Iran, China, Pakistan and recently to Libya for money to fight Tamil Tigers. Tamil Tigers wrongly proscribed by some countries. That made them weak. Tamil Tigers are not for wiping out any race or country like some Islamic groups. Tigers only asking Sri Lanka to leave us alone. They even dropped the “Separate State” campaign and were willing to go for a Federal setup. Sri Lanka Government refuses to grant any power sharing setup.


Sri Lankan governments have followed a policy of oppression and ethnic cleansing over the past 5 decades. It suppressed Tamil’s democratic struggle by violence, then Tamils took up arms to gain their freedom, SL govt. has now apparently succeeded suppressing the armed struggle, by killing hundreds of thousands of civilians
under a total blackout (press and INGO’s).

The world which let Rwanda massacre happen is again watching another “Rwanda” unfold in Sri lanka. The world which sanctioned Sudan for banning INGO’s didn’t do anything when Sri lanka did the same in Nov 2008, and is not doing anything while SL kill off hundreds and hundreds of civilians every day.

How many civilians the world is prepared to see sacrificed to le Sri lanka get its way against Tamils’ legitimate struggle? How will it justify its inaction while the massacre taking place?


thank you for the news put on the web , as I am writing this email to you hundreds of tamils civilians are gettig killed by sl forces if the safety zone attacked by ??? who are they out side of the zone ? the anwer is simple sl arm forces now you know who is attacking civiliants. I hope it is going to be end then the whole World will see the s.l gov true colour and don’t feel sorry for your mistake and accept your mistake to support the ruthless sl gov . dont forget me I told you now and I will stand by my word for ever
I lived ib sri lanka and I never forget that

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