Saturday, May 16, 2009
Sri Lanka government about to defeat decades-long insurgency
Reports from Sri Lanka say the government is in control of the entire coastline and has cornered the Tamil Tigers in what could be the end of the 25-year insurgency. Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Saturday that his military had "finally defeated" the insurgents after a generation-long war that killed thousands of civilians, saw the first use of suicide bombings and of women and children in terrorist attacks, and included assassinations of many Sri Lankan political leaders and, allegedly, of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi. According to the Associated Press, the Tamil Tigers rebel group, which had been fighting for the establishment of an independent state for the minority Tamils in the island nation, was calling for peace and for negotiations with the government in Colombo. It was a far cry from the 1980s when the Tamil Tigers operated a virtual state in the country's north, commanded a navy and controlled a smuggling network, the AP said. The vast majority of Sri Lankans are Sinhalese, mostly Buddhist and speak the Sinhala language; the Tamils come from India, are primarily Hindu and speak Tamil, according to the nonprofit Council on Foreign Relations. But the government has rejected entreaties for a truce, even from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and pressed on with a massive bombing campaign against the remaining rebels. Tigers spokesman Selvarasa Pathmanathan told the AP that U.S. President Barak Obama call on Wednesday for a peaceful resolution of the conflict was welcome, but did not agree to Obama's request for lay down their weapons.