ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tragedy in the Vanni

The Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government push the Tamils of the Vanni to a fate worse than death.

Scores of dead civilians, many limbless survivors, starving and homeless people, makeshift hospitals that have been bombed and “human shields”. These are the images from the military confrontation between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Vanni region in the north-east of the island. The Sri Lankan government’s campaign to destroy the LTTE has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe that was foretold when the military solution was initiated two years ago. The government, however, shows no let-up since it is sensing victory as the LTTE is now confined to a patch of 10 square kilometres adjoining the Indian Ocean. Until earlier this week, the Sri Lankan army was shelling and bombing the territory, while the LTTE used the civilian population as a shield against the military onslaught. Nearly 2,00,000 people have fled the area and are being kept in internment camps in shabby conditions while tens of thousands are hostages in the small area under LTTE control.

Both sides to the conflict, intractable in their military aims, have remained impervious to the human tragedy they have scripted. The LTTE refuses to give up and apart from issuing one unilateral ceasefire declaration earlier this week, which was rejected by the Lankan army, it continues to use the people it professes to fight for as fodder in its military resistance. Despite appeals from the international community, the Sri Lankan g overnment too shows no indication of halting the military c ampaign to ensure safety of the civilians. The government has been emboldened by the euphoric support it has received from the Sinhala populace and from the Sinhala polity’s refusal to consider any course apart from military action to resolve the ethnic conflict.

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