As the Sri Lankan government closed in on the last Tamil Tiger stronghold, the rebels surrendered with a statement saying they have decided to “silence our guns.”
"This battle has reached its bitter end," said rebel official Selvarasa Pathmanathan. "It is our people who are dying now from bombs, shells, illness and hunger. We cannot permit any more harm to befall them. We remain with one last choice — to remove the last weak excuse of the enemy for killing our people. We have decided to silence our guns."
The Sri Lankan government now claims control of the entire region, but criticisms of President Mahinda Rajapaska continue to pour in from the international aid community and the United Nations. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the Sri Lankan government for a "campaign of unprecedented violence" in the conflict.
News continued to emerge, with reports of the death of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. His son, Charles Anthony, was also said to be among the dead.
In Canada, the reaction to the conflict has been significant. The Tamil Canadian community in Toronto has been standing outside of the U.S. Consulate for days in attempts to get international attention and effort for their cause. As news of the rebel defeat reached the protestors, there was a call on the international community to keep an eye on the situation.
Sinhalese Canadians take an opposite position, of course, and say that it is the rebels who are to blame. They claim that they are being threatened by Tamils in Canada due to speaking out.
Discussions on various websites are filled to the brim with debate and discussion from the Tamil and Sinhalese communities, with each piece of news from the region drawing fresh fire in the comments sections.
Demands that the Sri Lankan government allow media and humanitarian aid into the conflict zone were foremost among the protestors.
Death toll claims vary depending on the source, with the Tigers claiming 25,000 civilians dead or dying in the area. Confirmation of these numbers can be complicated without media access to the region.
One of the few certainties in the conflict is that of a need for humanitarian assistance. James Elder of UNICEF told CTV Newsnet of 50,000 civilians that have fled the conflict zone over the last 72 hours. They are in dire need of food, water, and medicine. Most of the civilians are in congested and feebly equipped camps for displaced persons.
"What we will see this week is the number of people in the camps will essentially quadruple from what it was just a few short weeks ago and we will have around a quarter of a million people. This latest influx of people will have endured extreme conditions, which will put an even greater stress on the systems of health, sanitation and water in what are already grossly overcrowded camps," said Elder.
Whether or not this surrender from the Tigers is permanent remains to be seen. It is doubtful that the conflict will find its conclusion so promptly, as both the Tamils and Sinhalese continue to rally for their particular causes. Others rightly emphasize the call for "distant voices to be heard."
This is a catastrophic, multifaceted situation that receives very little mainstream press. Regardless, the need for humanitarian assistance is clear and the requirement of a global rejoinder to all acts of terror, injustice, war, and atrocity knows no borders.Powered by Sidelines