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Sri Lanka hails end to 26-year civil war
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16:03, May 19, 2009

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There was a rare, extremely joyous scene of jubilation in streets of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo on Monday, May 18: People were seen singing and dancing while holding up national flags, or shouting slogans, or setting off firecrackers to celebrate an end to its 26-year-old civil war.

The Sri Lankan government declared on the same day that its army captured the last stronghold of Tamil Tigers and rebel chief Velupillai Pabhakaran was shot dead while trying to flee advancing troops. Public opinions unanimously hold that the civil war that had endured for 26 years eventually comes to an end.

Earlier in the day, the Sri Lankan military announced that it had also killed several top rebel leaders.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Monday that the defense top brass officially reported to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the evening the final historic military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LITTE).

The government on Monday also asked the people in Sri Lanka to hoist the national flag in each house and, accordingly, the national flag will be hoist at all government institutions for a period of one week, starting Tuesday, May 19, to mark the military victory won by its army.

In history, Sri Lankan civil war originated in ethnic conflict, which had been exacerbated by the Sinhala Only Act of 1956. After the country won its independence on Feb. 4, 1948, the Tamils, which constituted a minority of the nation's population, resented to and turned increasingly dissatisfied with the policies on language, culture, education and religious issues pursued by the government then, which was chaired mainly by Sihalese.

With intensified ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka, the Tamils and Sinhalese plunged themselves into bloodshed conflicts time and again.

Velupillai Pabhakaran set up in Trincomalee an organization called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on May 6, 1976 with an attempt to establish an independent Tamil state through violent means. The Tamil Tigers' first landmine attack on the government army in July 1983 killed 13 soldiers.

The LTTE initially carried out a campaign of violence against the Sri Lankan government, and the civil war broke out in the wake of Colombo's instigated large-scale conflicts against Tamils.

Prolonged military conflicts in Sri Lanka have left more than 70,000 people dead and 1.8 million others homeless. Moreover, the conflicts have inflicted or wrought severe damages to infrastructure development in the country, and exceedingly massive military spending undermined the nation's economic development.

The government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE signed a ceasefire agreement in February 2002 thanks to mediation efforts of the Norwegian government. Afterwards, the two sides held eight rounds of talks between early 2002 and 2006, but failed to resolve the island's ethnic issue. Fighting in East Sri Lanka that began in July 2006 led to a government offensive there that continued in subsequent years.

Sri Lankan government announced the abrogation of the Norwegian-facilitated ceasefire On Jan. 2, 2008, and worked out a timetable for bringing about the military defeat of LTTE. In the past year or so, Tamil Tigers were gradually closed on to a 4.5-km strip of wooded land on the north-eastern coast of the island due to the powerful offensive of government troops.

In recent days, the Sri Lankan government declared a brief, temporary ceasefire and finally succeeded in rescuing out of danger close to 150,000 civilians, whom the LTTE had used as "human shields" for trying to flee to escape.

Then, the Sri Lankan army mounted powerful offensive land, sea and air attacks on Tamil tigers on Sunday, May 17, and the LTTE put up desperate resistance. On the same day, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the Tigers' International Spokesman, said in an emergency statement from a website "this battle has reached its bitter end," and that they would "accede to US President Barack Obama's request "to lay down their arms and surrender."

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had just returned from a trip to Jordan, on Monday declared a complete military victory over the Tamil Tigers after 26 years of bloody civil war. He addressed Parliament Tuesday to declare the government's military victory against Tamil Tiger rebels and outline his new policy after winning the three-decade-old civil war, a member of Partliament has been quoted as saying.

Many eminent figures or noted personalities in Sri Lanka deem that the main task of their nation in the next decade is precisely to carry out the post-war rehabilitation and promote reconciliation and understanding among the different communities.

By People's Daily Online and contributed by PD resident reporter in India Ren Yan

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