Sun, Sep 22, 2013 - Page 4 News List

War-weary Tamils see hope after first elections

NOT ENOUGH YET:Tamils have fought for 65 years for their independence. For some, the elections are a small victory, but not the end of the struggle

AP, JAFFNA, Sri Lanka

The provincial council was created in 1987 as an alternative to separation. However, the Tigers — the strongest of the rebel groups, and eventually the de facto government across much of the north and east — rejected it as inadequate. The fighting that followed prevented the council from functioning. The military defeat of the Tigers meant Tamils were back to where they had started 60 years earlier.

The UN welcomed the election in a statement, calling it an “important opportunity to foster political reconciliation.” The UN has called on Sri Lanka repeatedly to more thoroughly investigate war crimes committed by both sides. A UN report has indicated Sri Lankan troops may have killed as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of the conflict. The Tigers are also accused of killing civilians, holding them as human shields and recruiting child soldiers.

The UN estimates that 80,000 to 100,000 people died in the conflict, but the number is feared to be much higher. Few outsiders had any access to combat zones in the bloody final phase of the war. The Tamil Alliance has said if it wins control of the provincial government, it also will push for an international war crimes investigation.

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