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Terrorism & Security

Sri Lanka: Is this the 'endgame' for the conflict with Tamil Tigers?

The government says the war is in its last stages, as thousands of civilians remain trapped in the conflict zone.

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Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is growing increasingly concerned for the safety of the refugees still trapped amid the fighting, reports EuroNews in a video dispatch. The international aid agency says the next 48 hours will be critical.

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"We are extremely worried about the tens of thousands of civilians who are trapped in this rapidly-shrinking no-fire zone," said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the ICRC Head of Operations. "We consider their situation at present to be nothing short of catastrophic."
Independent journalists are banned from covering the fighting, but the Red Cross released dramatic pictures of wounded refugees.

As Sri Lanka attempts to end the conflict definitively, there has been an outcry from many in the international community accusing government forces of recklessly waging a war that has claimed thousands of innocent lives. A Washington Post editorial cites UN statistics saying that 4,500 civilians have been killed since January and quotes a UN official, who said the assault could result in a "bloodbath." The author laments the limited news coverage and muted reaction from the international community.

The fighting threatens to produce exactly the kind of cataclysm that states vowed to prevent when they adopted "the responsibility to protect" at the 2005 U.N. World Summit. This doctrine stipulates that states have a responsibility to protect peoples within their borders from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. When states are found to be "manifestly failing" to protect citizens from such mass violence, that responsibility shifts to the international community, acting through the United Nations. At the core of this norm is the obligation to act preventively rather than waiting until atrocities have occurred, as has happened too often.

Still, there have been several large protests around the world in support of the ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka. Monday saw large protests in London, reports SkyNews, as well as in Paris, reports The Daily Telegraph. Canada, home to a large population of ethnic Tamils, has seen some of the largest protests. For two weeks, small demonstrations have taken place throughout the country, but on Tuesday 30,000 protesters rallied in front of the Parliament to show support of the Tamil people, reports The Globe and Mail.

Supporters of the Sri Lankan government have derided protesters as misled agents of the LTTE. One blogger wrote on LankaNewspapers.com that while demonstrators showed support for the Tamil Tigers, the group, considered a terrorist organization by more than 30 nations, abused and threatened the lives of innocent civilians.

It is not only [LTTE leader Velupillai] Prabhakaran and his fellow criminals on the battlefield who must be condemned for violence against civilians. His collaborators staging protests in foreign capitals and foreign diplomats running riot in Colombo together with their INGO/NGO hirelings all out to derail Sri Lanka's war on terror must also be held answerable for those crimes as it is they who keep the LTTE going by giving Prabhakaran false hope that if he could hold out, they would be able to have the war halted.

Meanwhile, Reuters offers a Q&A that discusses what must happen to bring fighting to an end in Sri Lanka.

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