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Sri Lanka: The Next Srebrenica?

April 17, 2009

The cease-fire is over, and fighting has resumed in Sri Lanka. If you haven’t followed the situation, a nasty war is being fought between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers – a separatist rebel group.

And it appears nearly over. The Sri Lankan government has cornered the Tamil Tigers onto a beach in the north of the country. Unfortunately, nearly 150,000 civilians are reportedly trapped on the same beach as the rebels. While there was a short cease-fire this week to allow humanitarian workers to provide aid to civilians, the government and the rebels have now resumed shelling each other.

The most horrifying part – the rebels are forcing the civilians to stay on the beach. Perhaps they are hoping that – with hundreds of thousands of helpless civilians on the beach – the government won’t step up military operations to secure a victory.

This has led Human Rights Watch to declare this area the most dangerous place in the world. It seems – given the chance to finally end the long-standing war with the Tamil Tigers – the Sri Lankan government won’t give up the opportunity to defeat the rebels.

Given the civilian’s perceived or real allegiance to the rebels, those civilians not killed by the fighting will likely suffer harsh punishment from the Sri Lanka government. In summing up the state of affairs, the question posed by New York Times journalist Robert Mackey’s seems fitting: “Is the World Ignoring Sri Lanka’s Srebrenica?”

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