Many of the Tamil Tigers still fighting in northeast Sri Lanka were born into a world of war, spent their childhood in war, entered adolescence in war and have been fighting for years without ever having once experienced the idea of peace. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) are now trapped with their leader, Velupillai Prabhakran, into an area of 21 square miles in the northeast section of the country. The ruthless ruler of LTTE has been a demi-god for nearly thirty years and has made decisions that impacted the lives of his followers. For years, a Tamil Tiger could not marry, but in 1984, the leader married a university student and suddenly marriage was OK.
Parbhakran has three choices — surrender, flight or death. He probably is not the suicide type and will undoubtedly find an excuse to leave the island. If he goes, the entire revolution will most probably come to a stand still and end. At this point, for most inhabitants of Sri Lanka, that would be the best solution.
The real task is now for the government to reach out and grant amnesty to all fighters and begin the process of reconciliation. A reading of Abraham Lincoln’s policy toward the defeated South would help Sri Lanka leaders understand what to do.
In an age of instant communication and sharing of information, nations are still able to conduct military operations in secret as witness the Israel invasion of Gaza. Another example of preventing the press from uncovering what is happening in a war is now transpiring in Sri Lanka where thousands of civilians are trapped in the fight between government troops and the Tamil rebels. Dozens of civilians are dying because there is no process to allow them to get out of fighting zones to the safety of more secure areas. The government rejected a British proposal to send a special envoy who would work with both sides to ensure the safety of civilians and find a way to draw the fighting to a conclusion. “It is tantamount to an intrusion into Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and is disrespectful to the country’s statehood” exclaimed the foreign ministry.
The Sri Lanka government made clear to the United Kingdom it jeopardized relations by raising issues of special envoys to assist civilians and help end the fighting. Actually, the British effort was mainly concerned with helping civilians and dealing with issues such as the lack of adequate medical facilities. Journalists have not ben allowed in the fighting area so no one knows what is actually happening to civilians or the quality of medical care.