IN OTHER WORDS: Ignored war
Asia’s longest civil war is building to a violent crescendo. In Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese-majority government should be pressed to accept a cease-fire, to permit a political settlement. Government forces are besieging the rebel Tamil Tigers in the north. Since abandoning a cease-fire in 2006 and a Norwegian-sponsored peace process earlier this year, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, Defence Minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, have been vaunting their intention to crush the Tigers once and for all.
There is little chance the brothers’ military campaign will produce anything other than a new phase of protracted guerrilla warfare. Both sides have abused civilians. The Sri Lankan military has bombed and shelled villages, schools, hospitals while the Tigers are accused of preventing 230,000 displaced civilians from fleeing the war zone so they can be used as human shields, and to provide a pool of potential recruits.
Tamil civilians of northern Sri Lanka are suffering a man-made disaster. Ethnic or nationalistic
pride should not be allowed to inflict such suffering on civilians who committed no crime but to be trapped in a war zone. Only when the shooting stops can Sri Lanka’s government pursue a lasting peace — by granting the Tamils meaningful autonomy in their homelands.