UN: Civilians at risk in Sri Lanka
MARCH 20, 2008.
As fighting intensifies in northern Sri Lanka, the UN and advocacy groups say there is grave concern for the state of human rights in the war-torn country.
A US State Department report issued on March 11 said that in 2007, "The government's respect for human rights continued to decline."
It then cited "numerous reports" that the army, police, and pro-government paramilitary groups had "participated in armed attacks against civilians and practiced torture, kidnapping, hostage-taking, and extortion with impunity."
Since the 1980s, the conflict between the government and the LTTE, who are fighting for a separate Tamil homeland on the island, has left some 70,000 dead. The fear among many Tamils is that their community is now being targeted by the authorities as part of a 'dirty war' against the LTTE.
Officials in Colombo, however, counter that those alleging government responsibility for violations are ignoring atrocities committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the rebel group fighting against government forces.
They have also rejected the US report for throwing "a lifeline to the LTTE", a group classified as 'terrorist' by the US and the European Union.
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Published: Thu Mar 20 15:58:18 EDT 2008