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Tamil Tigers Lay Down Their Arms

Tamil Tigers Lay Down Their Arms

The rebel group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), more commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, have conceded after 26 years of fighting in Sri Lanka.

“This battle has reached its bitter end,” declared Selvarajah Pathmanathan, the group’s international spokesperson. “We have decided to silence our guns. Our only regrets are for the lives lost and that we could not hold out for longer.”

The civil war consists of Sri Lankan Tamils fighting for autonomy in a Sinhalese controlled state. The rift between the two groups go back to colonial times, as a result of the British “divide and rule” strategy, but once Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, tensions between the two groups intensified with the Sinhalese government denying Tamils citizenship and declaring Sinhala the only official language. Further legislation that alienated Tamils was established over the years, and in the seventies the Tamil Tigers formed and started to demand a separate state. Since then, fighting has plagued the nation, despite two (temporary) ceasefires in 1987 and 2002.

The Tigers’ concession seems to be a good sign, but a number of problems still remain. First, the group’s founder and leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has disappeared. Narayan Swamy, editor of Indo-Asian News Service and author of Tigers of Lanka: From Boys to Guerrillas sign claims that his concession is highly unlikely. “It is possible he may die fighting, it is possible he may commit suicide.” (Al-Jazeera)

In addition, the Sri Lankan government is responsible for the abductions of thousands, most recently Stephen Sunthararaj, Project Manager for the Center for Human Rights and Development. In 2006 and 2007, Sri Lanka had the highest number of new abductions in the world, according to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. While many abductees are Tamils or connected to the Tamil Tigers, others include journalists, clergy, educators and humanitarian aid workers, to serve as a “warning” to others.

Finally, countless civilians have been displaced. In only the past two days over 80,000 have fled the war zone and since January about 7,000 have been killed. Refugee camps’ resources are strained due to so many refugees. UNICEF contends that many are malnourished, particularly women and children, and that some do not have access to clean drinking water. And still an estimated 30,000 to 80,000 civilians remain trapped in the conflict zone. National director for Habitat for Humanity Tony Senewiratne estimates that it could take possibly two years to relocate displaced citizens. With limited resources and an immense displaced population, two years seems like an all too hopeful estimation.

UPDATE
It was announced today (May 18) that Prabhakaran has been killed, along with his son and other senior officials of the Tamil Tigers.

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12 comments

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4:47AM PDT on Jul 17, 2009

The last day end of the war as we know up to 50000 tamil civilians has been genocided by srilankan government. From which 15000 that survived with dramatic injures including 2000 ltte soldies who had sadly been hidding in the bangers in search for safty had been killed by srilankan army by bullocer and tanker.
Between 250,000 - 400,000 civilian Tamils caught in the concentration camps in Srilanka. No one has an overview of the situation. Lack of food, medicines, clean drinking water, sanitation and shelter on one side.
Kidnappings, killings, rape and child abuse on the other side. families may not be allowed to live in the same camps. In short, very chaotic situation.
Please save them.

the UN must take control of the concentration camps so they can protect civilians from harm.

Since the LTTE (Tamil tigers) is defeated, there is no reason that they are on the terrorist list.
the Tamils' right to self so that there will a politically negotiated solution.

4:13AM PDT on Jul 17, 2009

Praying for peace to tamil peole in tamilealam in srilanka.

11:11PM PDT on May 27, 2009

In Sri Lanka, we see the proper conclusion of a war. One side is so thoroughly beaten, they can't even entertain the idea of mounting another war. Despite the terrible costs in human life and suffering - the war is ended. This means the war won't continue ad nauseum for another 20, 50, or 100 generations, thereby multiplying the pain, suffering, and death by orders of magnitude.

We need similar resolutions in a few other areas on this earth - starting with the problem in Israel. Let the contestants battle it out, winner take all. No UN intervention, no US intervention, no whining by the losers.

6:45AM PDT on May 20, 2009

Sorcha, most of what you have written about the Tamils is quite correct - but it does not give them the right to demand their own separate, self-governed region within the Country. Just the same as the MORO rebels in the Philipines and the Muslim separatists in the YALA province of Thailand are trying to do the same through bloodshed, kidnappings, beheadings and other atrocities. That's what started the conflict in Sri Lanka. No independent Nation will ever give up a piece of their country to satisfy break-away rebel's demands. It's not going to happen in the Philipines, Thailand OR Sri Lanka.

2:54AM PDT on May 20, 2009

Though figting has stopped ( offically speaking ) the tamil peopple still feel alienated in there own country . They have there own language traditions and customs , culture , history they are in essence a different people from the main sri lanken people . And why should they be governed by a people who have shown little to no respect them ?
This case is similar (very similar ) to a lot of former british colonies , for example Ireland . They had there War of Independence as they felt as the tamils do now , that they were a separate people to those governing them ( the British ) after this and a civil war and many years later a republic was declared . They became recognized as their own people . Now conflict did arise due to partition of the country but the people had received independence .
This independence is what the tamils need they need to recognised as their own people where their customs , traditions and beliefs are respected .
The civil war is over to the tamil people will still feel alienated , disrespected and believe that they should have there own tamil state . Until this is recognised ,understood and acted upon I don't see a long lasting peace between the main sri lanken people and the Tamils .

10:32PM PDT on May 18, 2009

Most westerners (except the british and a few others) had either never heard of Sri Lanka (even though they might know of Ceylon Tea) or Ceylon as it used to be known, until recent weeks. Then the whole international community started to make "clucking noises" and take sides in a conflict they knew little (if not nothing) about. Now is the time to help the people with food, safe drinking water, medical supplies etc. But it is also the time to keep our noses out of their politics.

1:26PM PDT on May 18, 2009

I wish the Tigers had laid down their arms earlier before so many civilians were killed! And I hope the Tamil Lankans will ask themselves the question what Prabhakaran did for them with these 23+ years of guerilla war with the Govt. Did he give them a life with dignity? I think not!
Now it is up to the Sri Lankan Govt. and the Sinhala people to treat the Tamils with the dignity and respect they deserve and build one strong harmonious nation.

12:54PM PDT on May 18, 2009

Whenever a majority suppresses a minority instead of welcoming the minority as another facet of a rich cultural diversity, look behind the smoke and mirrors. What do you see? A "land grab", the powerful always want to take from the less powerful. To quote Jimi Hendrix: "when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the World will know peace."

6:37AM PDT on May 18, 2009

I do wish Care2 members encourage Lankan members to solve their ethnic problem in a decent humane manner.
I believe it is the duty of the majority to embrace the minority and the minority to reciprocate by clasping the extended friendly hand.
Politicians of the past on both sides crudely raised the national issue so that they could enter parliament for ever on the language issue.
These selfish liars are encouraged by people on both sides by assuming a disinterested citizen's atitude instead of saying the right thing at the proper moment.
This lethargic attitude encouraged psychopaths like the Tamil Tiger leader Pirabakaran and the shot and killed JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera.
We will forget the racial riots of the past and hope we could build a new nation of Peace to All and Pain to None.
We all must get involved and rope in all those interested to help us as we are living in a civilized society and not in an ancient culture where the minority is the slaves of the majority.
If this negative attitude persists, not even God can help the lazy-goose when the next wave comes on
Let's begin to build the nation now!

6:05AM PDT on May 18, 2009

The Tamil Tigers may have been defeated, but their desire forsome kind of recognition as a cultural group will not go away. The Sir Lankan government must find a solution to incorporating this cultural group with the Sri Lankan culture. Otherwise the next generation will take up the cause and the fight will begin again. Learn the lessons of history! Two cultures can co-exist even on a small island - and gain from each other. War rarely solves the underlying problem. Tolerance and acceptance of the right of cultrual groups to exist is the hallmark of a democtatic and civilised society. There have to be checks and balances to prevent any one group from becoming too powerful and dominating small communities. Ordinary people want to live their lives in peace, educate their children, and have a basic standard of living. These are universal values. Again: LEARN THE LESSONS OF HISTORY! Develop a selection process that weeds out power hungry politicians.

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