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April 21, 2009
Tune in: Online radio show on Sri Lanka’s civil war

The Red Cross is warning of a catastrophe as the Sri Lankan 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. Watch a video of Tamils in New York protesting the Sri Lankan offensive: Sri Lanka launches “final” assault against Tamil Tigers.’s weekly radio show explored the root causes of conflict and life in Sri Lanka.

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.”

Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti, Nicole E. Foster and Katie Combs




[…] background on the conflict, listen to our online radio show on Sri Lanka’s civil […]


I’m Sinhala my self, but I understood the problem of tamils, They do need state for their own.


I don’t understand why these singhala people are so dump. Why they don’t understand the problem?? If you can trust your Mahinda, Why don’t you think Tamils can’t trust Prabhakaran. If Singhala state terrisom never happend then there is no need for tamils to fight. Accept the fact don’t get fool so easily.


For majority of our Tamil brothers and sisters, you don’t have to be singhalese to be ‘anti Tamil’, but if even someone who has an impartial view about the crisis in Sri Lanka is ‘anti-Tamil’ for them. They immediately do character assasination rather than analyzing the what is being said. This is a legacy of a 3-decade long ‘freedom struggle’ by the ruthless Prbaharan. I won’t be surprised if Arun Sunthar posts another comment calling me ‘anti-Tamil’ eventhough I am a Tamil who has no singhalese as a father or mother.


LTTE is killing their own kind and u people r sittng here supporting it. when was the alst time u were in sri lanka? What kind of tamils r u?


What goes around comes around and the Sinhalese will have to pay heavy price for the atrocities one day. Racist Sinhala regimes have beating the Tamils from 1956 and there is no hope to resolve the core issue besides hoodwinking the Tamils, Indians and the International community.


You have two anti Tamil people (Ahilan’s father himself is a Sinhalese. His father’s name btw is not Kathirgamar, it is Kathirgamu and he had portrayed it as Kathirgamu in order to hoodwink the international community that a Tamil was being part of a Sinhalese government) is a Sinhalese and another neutral person who used to be a friend mostly of the Sinhalese government. Where is the balanced reporting?


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


The core issue though remains unsolved till date – which is racial discrimination. The Rajapakse regime has killed 4500 innocent civilians this year in a rush to eliminate the Tigers.

However to get a fair view of the crisis i recommend WorldFocus to Tamil peoples views. It is evident from worldwide protests that the Tamil people stand solidly behind Tigers even after their deproscription by few governments.


Ahilan missed one of the most important landmark.
Sinhala leadership went back on three agreements with Tamil democratic leadership since 1956. It is the Sinhala attitude of domination resulted in separtist movement. I do not see any hope since Sinhalese buddhist leadership does not belive in sharing of power. There is no hope for a peaceful solution with Sinhala Mindset fueled by the Buddhist clergy.

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