A year after defeating rebels, reconciliation begins slowly in Sri Lanka

16:06, May 20, 2010      

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A year ago on May 19, guns became silent in Sri Lanka after a 30-year-old civil war. Soldiers, who had fought for nearly three years in the Eelam War IV with Tamil Tiger rebels, stood victoriously while thousands of people poured into streets to celebrate the day across the country.

Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), notorious for using suicide bombers and child soldiers, was finally killed in the Nanthikadal lagoon in the north.

After 30 years, Sri Lankans got united under one flag. Since then, the country became war free. There is no sign of revival of the rebel group, which once had a powerful military wing with naval and air power.

Since the war ended on May 19, 2009, the government was charged with immense responsibility of looking after 280,000 war refugees or internally displaced people (IDP) and 11,000 ex-LTTE cadres who surrendered to the military.

The state-run welfare centers came under heavy criticism from the West which described these centers with barbed wires as Nazi concentration camps during the holocaust. Human rights groups and the UN were up in arms against keeping the IDPs in camps without freedom of movement.

But gradually with the clearing of mines in heavily mine-laden former LTTE territories, the IDPs were resettled to their own villages.

The doors of the welfare centers were later opened to foreign diplomats including UN officials, who praised the government humanitarian efforts.

Today, the number of the IDPs in welfare centers came down to 77,000 and the government has speeded up resettlement process.

After wiping out the LTTE, President Mahinda Rajapaksa used his popularity over the war victory to seek a second term in January this year but faced the unexpected competition from former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, who is equally credited for defeating the LTTE.


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(Editor:张茜)

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