Truce Over - Bloodbath Next?

April 16, 2009

The two-day truce called by the Sri Lankan government ended on Wednesday, with a Sri Lankan military spokesman saying military operations against the opposition Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (known as the LTTE or Tamil Tigers) had resumed.  But how do you carry out an offensive against an area of about 5 square miles (about twice the size of Central Park in New York) and containing at least 100,000 civilians, without causing massive civilian casualties?  John Holmes, the U.N. Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said in a press conference on Wednesday that the danger of a bloodbath was of great concern.  The French and British governments issued a joint statement urging President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka to announce a new pause in hostilities.

The civilians are being held in the war zone by the Tigers who won’t let them leave.  Holmes reported during his press conference that during the two-day pause in the fighting, actually fewer civilians had managed to flee the zone than previously and the LTTE was actively preventing them from doing so.  The Tigers must stop using the civilians as human shields and let them leave.  The Sri Lankan government must announce another pause in hostilities so the civilians can get out safely.