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The Encirclement of Tamil Tigers and the Resulting Humanitarian Crisis
Tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped as the military pushes for what it sees as a final blow to the Tamil Tigers
WASHINGTON - March 18 - As the Sri Lankan military pushes to end the the 25-year old separatist rebellion by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the northeast of the country, close to 3,000 civilians have died in the conflict, hundreds of them children. While the government calls the figures unsubstantiated, nevertheless, the conflict has turned the lives of many thousands into hell.
Sharmini Peries, executive director at The Real News Network sits down with Sunanda Deshapriya, a veteran Sri Lankan Journalist and former Editor of Yukthiya Newspaper, to discuss the conflict. Deshapriya asserts that the current government in Colombo sees the conflict mainly as a military one with a merely military solution to it, whereas it is a conflict that requires a mix of military and political solution with foreign governments having a role in it.
Turning to the issue of press freedom and the safety of journalists, Deshapriya, who has been covering the conflict since 1983, paints a grim picture, saying that over the past three years over 20 journalists and media staff have been murdered and more than 50 of their counterparts left the country in self-imposed exile. This is in addition to daily intimidation and threats that many journalists find themselves exposed to.
Mr. Deshapriya, who also lives in exile, further argues that the Sri Lankan government refuses to have any truce in the conflict because it does not want to negotiate with the rebels, given that it is holding the upper hand militarily, and that LTTE, for its part, uses the civilians as human shields. This situation inevitably has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis.
Watch this interview on The Real News Network: