Opinion

The Great Debate

from The Great Debate UK:

Tamil diaspora unites to surmount challenges

suren surendiran--Suren Surendiran is a senior member of the British Tamils Forum. The opinions expressed are his own.--

“Colombo should make public its lists of the interned and allow the Red Cross access to all places of detention and all aspects of the “screening” process conducted by the military and intelligence agencies.

The international community has a clear role to play in convincing the Sri Lankan government to take these steps.” - Robert Templer, Asia program Director, International Crisis Group, 21 July 2009 In a damming article in the International Herald Tribune, Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group, called for the Tamil doctors who remain detained, having renounced the statements they made during the final stages of the conflict, to be released stating “This farce should end: They should be freed”.

As the Government of Sri Lanka continues to imprison over 300,000 Tamil civilians in barbed-wire camps, with limited access for aid agencies and international media, the international community seems content with the military ‘guided tours’ of these camps orchestrated for the benefit of foreign diplomats and allow the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence to boast claims that “the welfare centres were the best in the world”.

Despite the Sri Lankan government’s rigorous crackdown on voices of dissent and efforts to restrict independent reports, the few that have emerged signal a very different image of what lies behind the barbed wire. There are credible reports from The Times UK that the Sri Lankan authorities are building permanent structures within the camps suggesting long term settlement, despite "promises" to resettle 80 per cent of the detainees by the end of the year. Aid agencies have been reluctant to be outspoken of the conditions in the camps in fear that their limited assistance to the detainees could be jeopardized.

from The Great Debate UK:

Sri Lanka’s death zone

Donald Steinberg is Deputy President of the International Crisis Group, www.crisisgroup.org-- Donald Steinberg is Deputy President of the International Crisis Group, www.crisisgroup.org. The views expressed are his own. --

Civilians are dying by the hundreds and possibly thousands in the northeast of Sri Lanka. As government troops converge on the remaining forces of the rebel LTTE (Tamil Tigers) in a tiny strip of coastal land, tens of thousands of civilians remained trapped in the crossfire -- getting killed and maimed in large numbers both by indiscriminate army shelling and by the rebels preventing them from fleeing, with equally lethal force.

Many thousands have managed to escape the free-fire zone in recent days, all with horrific tales to tell of those they left behind. Just how many civilians remain in the killing zone is not entirely clear. The government is saying that as many as 170,000 are now in government territory, with more than 100,000 people fleeing the zone since Monday.

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