The Sri Lankan governement finally crushed the Tamil Tiger rebellion last week, killing the top three rebel commanders including their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran The government ignored the pleaas of the U.N. and most of the Europeans nations to allow civilians to escape from the last contested areaa. Civilian casualties are said to be very high.  The non Tamil population celebrated the end of the Tiger’s reign of terror, but Tamil people were conspicuously absent from the celebration. Discrimination against the Tamil ethnic group is pervasive in the country and some felt that Prabharkaran’s tactics gave the few Tamil elected officials bargaining chips  in governement negotiations. Sensing an opportunity perhaps for real peace, President Mahinda Rajapaksathe delivered  a speech to the country which included a message to the Tamil ethnic minority, which he delivered in their own language. He alluded to having a power sharing agreement that included the Tamils.  Peace can be elusive though, and the lull in fighting is not necessarily a guarantee for peace.  Twenty-five years of fighting leaves plenty of memories of injustice and rebellions are easily made. Two things need to happen to insure peace. Government has to offer full participation and representation to the Tamil minority, and atrocities committed during the war, on both sides must be investigated and prosecuted. President Rajapaksathe can make  a good first step by allowing medical personnel and U.N. representatives into the Tamil area so that civilians who have been without medical assistance and in some cases without food, can receive immediate aid.

The government of Sri Lanka has decided it will finally end its twenty-five year struggle with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This has been a bloody and violent conflict with much loss of life. Humanitarian crimes have been committed by both sides. The Tamil Tigers are intolerant of any dissent within areas that were held by them and the government has also been accused of killing civilians and using child soldiers. Last week the Sri Lanka government ordered a 48 hour use of defensive force only so that civilians could leave the last embattled area. Both the United Nations and the United States have urged the governemnt to extend the time so that civilians could be evacuated. When the 48 hours expired, the government resumed its attack. After an earthen dam built by the Tigers had been demolished thousands of civilians poured out of the area. The estimates of how many civilians were trapped ranged from 60,000 to over 110,000, and it is believed thousands are still inside the zone of fighting. Journalists and NGOs are having a hard time assessing what the situation on the ground really is because the Sri Lankan government will not allow journalists into the area. Hopefully, in the push to end the conflict, the world will not lose sight of the allegations that the Sri Lankan government is and has been committing genocide against the Tamil people. The government has always denied the allegations, but there is enough credible information to at least warrant an international investigation.