by Daniel Kitts Thursday April 16, 2009

The brief two-day ceasefire in Sri Lanka has ended and the fighting goes on.


An Associated Press update on the situation, viewable here, captures the frustration of many international observers with the actions of both the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).


The article details condemnations by diplomats of the LTTE's refusal to allow Tamil civilians to leave the combat area. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner went so far as to accuse the LTTE of using innocent civilians as human shields in a statement released yesterday. 


But that same statement called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to halt the military offensive against the LTTE. 


The U.S., which has long considered the LTTE a terrorist organization, also pressured the Sri Lankan government to change its tactics: 


U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters in Washington on Thursday that the government should stop shelling the "no-fire zone," grant visas for aid groups and allow journalists to visit the displaced people.


The killing of civilians will not end the fighting and will "stain any eventual peace," he said.


This AFP report delves into the latest U.S. statement on Sri Lanka in further detail. 


Also, looking ahead to the prospect of full Sri Lankan government control over the remaining LTTE areas, International Crisis Group has released a report entitled "Development Assistance and Conflict in Sri Lanka: Lessons from the Eastern Province". The report argues that the island's east, retaken by the Sri Lankan government from the LTTE in 2007, "is far from being the model of democratisation and post-conflict reconstruction that the government claims." This report will add ammunition to those critics who say Sri Lanka's government is not committed to implementing policies that will truly end the conflict between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils.