Socialist Worker

Sri Lanka: Horror of massacre of Tamils emerging

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2153

Evidence showing the Sri Lankan military’s savage behaviour in the last days of its offensive against the Tamil Tigers is mounting.

News is also emerging about the appalling conditions in the refugee camps that hundreds of thousands of Tamils are being herded into.

The government tried very hard to keep all journalists and aid workers out of the war zone.

But their lies about not bombing civilian areas were undermined by eyewitness reports from three government doctors at hospitals of relentless shelling in “safe” zones.

All three have now been arrested for speaking to the media.

The case of Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin exposes more government lies about the last days of the fighting. She was contacted by the Tamil Tiger leadership in an attempt to arrange the surrender of their last 300 fighters.

They asked her to convey a message to the military for their immediate safety to be guaranteed, and wanted an assurance that the government would agree to a political process to guarantee rights for Tamils.

The government was not interested and proceeded to take the enclave by force, killing the leaders and a great many civilians.

Now Tamil refugees have been moved into displacement camps. The largest is Menik Farm, which houses more than 200,000 people.

United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-moon visited the camp. He said, “I have travelled around the world and visited similar places, but this is by far the most appalling scene I have seen.”

Sources

This is the only camp that outside observers have been allowed to visit. Tamil sources say that, despite its squalor, it is the most presentable of the camps.

They also say inmates are reporting that many young men have been taken away by the army and they don’t know what has become of them.

The government says it may take two years to process all the detainees and check they are not Tiger supporters. It has not stated what will become of people who are sympathetic to the Tigers.

There is a danger that the camps will become permanent as the military tries to isolate the civilian population from any resurgence of guerrilla resistance.

President Rajapaksa has announced that there will be local elections in the Tamil areas this August. However, the Tamils who are now crowded into the camps will not be eligible to vote.

The war has killed as many as 100,000 people since 1983. The military claims that it lost 6,200 troops and killed 22,000 Tigers in three years since it ended a truce. At least 8,000 civilians have been killed during the recent offensive


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Article information

International
Tue 26 May 2009, 18:19 BST
Issue No. 2153
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