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May 19, 2009
Sri Lanka declares victory after decades of civil war

Injured in the conflict, two men being treated by MSF at a hospital in Vavuniya, northern Sri Lanka. Photo: IRIN

Sri Lanka declared victory after decades of civil war with the separatist group known as the Tamil Tigers.

In a nationally televised address to parliament on Tuesday, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa formally announced an end to the war

The government said it had captured the last sliver of rebel-held territory in Sri Lanka’s north and killed the leader of the movement, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, and some of his top deputies.

A spokesman for the rebels said their struggle had “reached its bitter end” after months of bloody fighting that became their last stand.

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

Blogger Sanjiva Weerawarana in Colombo, Sri Lanka writes that it is an historic occasion: 

I was not born when Sri Lanka got independence from Great Britain in 1948, but I can now begin to imagine how people felt that day.

Today is again our independence day, version 2.0.

Its been just over 60 years since we got independence from Britain. The war with LTTE and other militant extremist groups has been going on for nearly 30 years. Today marks the end of that phase of our history.

[…]The atmosphere in Colombo and Sri Lanka today is incredible. There are national flags everywhere and there’s a genuine feeling of relief and rejoice. There are spontaneous street parties and “dan salas” happening and of course the omnipresent sound of fire crackers.

Congratulations, Sri Lanka and all her people. Today we stand proud as a victorious nation.

Sri Lankan blogger Indi expresses his pride, but writes that much is needed to rebuild: 

I’m in Hambantota on the eve of the LTTE’s surrender. I just returned from the Padaviya transit hospital, near the Mullativu warzone, in the north. I am proud of the flags waving between Ratnapura and Embilipitiya but saddened by the people I have seen in hospitals and camps.

Sitting in Hambantota now, I don’t know what to say. I hear over the SMS newswires that the LTTE has surrendered, that Prabhakaran’s son and the spokesman Nadesan are dead. All the way down the road from Colombo to hear there are flags, cars and vans with Mahinda’s photo on the dash. Occassional fire crackers. I too am very proud and extend my thanks to the armed forces, the people of Sri Lanka and, yes, [Sri Lankan President] Mahinda. A future without the LTTE is a better one, but it is not a future in itself.

There is still so much work to be done to rebuild the lives and land crushed and crippled by war. If you transit through Madavachchiya (the gateway to the north) you see that the story is not neglect and carnage as the west portrays, but neither is it everything it should be. The roads are full of convoy after convoy, food, water, building materials, medicine. The airways too. We must immediately provide relief and rights to our family in the north and then we must help resettle them on their land where they can and will provide for themselves, and the country.

All Sri Lankans are proud, even those in the camps. I have met them and spoken with them what I can and they are not beggars and they are not fools. Right now they need immediate care as they are wounded and sick, but then they need just our support to stand on their own. The LTTE has spent my entire lifetime destroying this country and trying to tear it apart. Now I think we have to spend just as long rebuilding our land and uniting our people.

Blogger “Suchetha Wijenayake” in Colombo looks at where the Tamil Tigers, known internationally for pioneering the suicide jacket, went wrong:

Now I guess its time to look back and see where the went wrong. After all, hindsight is 20/20.

1999 to 2004 was the best time for the LTTE. They had a de facto country, and they were in a very strong bargaining position. If Prabhakaran had played it right he could have got a place in parliament. Sure they can bring down weapons. Sure they can ready for war. As someone once said, There is no peace. There is only ‘Open fire!’ and ‘I need to reload!’

Both sides were reloading as fast as possible. LKGOV not so fast because they were running out of cash, but the LTTE were going great guns (pun only partially intended).

But by refusing to talk and try to fix the problem instead of keeping on fighting, the LTTE lost what was a golden opportunity.

Another blogger at “Duckpond” argues that a military victory will ring hollow if it is not followed up with outreach to the Tamil minority: 

I suspect that military victory without reconciliation is a recipe for further violence. How will the Tamil minority now be treated in Sri Lanka, and will they be fully and equally integrated into a multi-ethnic society?

Blogger “JayaSri” expresses faith that Sri Lankans will rise to the challenge and heal the nation: 

We have now reached one of the most critical junctions of our country’s path. The whole country, (at least the majority of Sinhalese are) is on one side having one thought in their minds. And I believe that has a great power. We must use that power to change our mind sets and understand the true meanings of our lives and true meanings of our country’s history. And we shall overcome. We shall change. All our minds were corrupted with WAR, by force or by choice. But now, it’s over. Now is the time for us to hit our breaks and think what we should do now. We are left with hundreds of thousands of displaced innocent Tamils.

We are blessed to have such a leadership to bring one country back together. Now he is faced with a much larger responsibility, to heal a broken nation. The final political solution and the ideology that would define such act will define the future of our country as well. This is the best time to do such. If we make the mistake of putting a plaster on it again we may lose the greatest opportunity of our life time and will face the consequences of it tragically. We all must act wise. Especially the majority Sinhalese.




We should salute Sri Lanka – just for the way they handled a blood thirsty organization once thought invincible. Let the healing begin, South Asia more than any other place needs positive news such as this.


[…] after war, justice , Luther Uthayakumaran – open Democracy News Analysis – – 1 day ago Sri Lanka declares victory after decades of civil war – Worldfocus – 20 hours […]


I am a Canadian that is very unsettled by what has happened… On my own Blog I have published about the tragedy that has taken place and my own reaction.

Though I respect your opinion – I wonder at the new generation that says simple – get on with life

It is read by a few Canadians and people in other places.

Murray Lincoln

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