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Pledge by NDP leader rescues starving Tamil
by Joe Fiorito
[...]
The people who closed the roads in recent days are the people who live next door to you and me; their relatives are caught up in a long and brutal war; their relatives have died, or they are starving in refugee camps; the word is that chemical weapons are being thrown at them, but no one is sure of the claims or counter-claims because no journalists can get in to take a look.

A road gets closed here.

A country is closed there.

I had a chat with Gunam Verakathipillai the other day. He is a Canadian; that is a Canadian name now. He is also Tamil, from Sri Lanka. He came here in 1987.

Long enough for you?

Gunam was on a hunger strike on the lawn at Queen's Park until yesterday afternoon. He was planning to starve himself to death unless there was some sort of action.

His life has just been saved by Jack Layton, who promised to push the Prime Minister to urge a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. That's all it took. A promise to urge.

How Canadian is that?

Gunam went without food for two weeks. I get twitchy if I miss lunch. He is 52 years old. He did not get up when I stepped inside his tent to chat the other day.
[...]
The hunger strike is now over. Gunam has made his point. Someone actually listened.

Now, what do you need to know about the roads?

Fears of Sri Lanka "Catastrophe"
The Red Cross says its staff in Sri Lanka are witnessing an "unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe" in the area where troops have trapped Tamil Tigers.

The agency says a ferry loaded with aid has been unable to reach the battered north-eastern coastal strip for three days because of fighting.

The Sri Lankan army earlier said that more than 2,000 civilians had waded across a lagoon to escape to safety.

There are also reports that staff have quit the last hospital in the war zone.

Medics abandoned the hospital after persistent shelling over recent days, unverified reports say.

As the humanitarian situation worsened, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, was being rushed back to Sri Lanka to press for the protection of trapped civilians, a UN spokeswoman said.

In another development on Thursday, former colonial power Britain said the Sri Lankan government could face investigation into possible war crimes, as a result of violence against civilians caught up in the fighting.

The UN says about 50,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone, although Colombo disputes this figure.

U.N. envoy arrives in Sri Lanka, Clinton says IMF should not loan $1.9B to Sri Lanka right now

Sri Lanka army 'in final stage'
Sri Lanka's army says it is in the "final stage" of operations against the Tamil Tigers with troops just 1.5km short of "dominating the whole coast".

President Mahinda Rajapksa was quoted as saying that all trapped civilians would be "rescued from rebel control" within two days.

The government has rejected international calls for a truce.

The United Nations is sending a new envoy to discuss the crisis, but says a bloodbath "seems to be inevitable".

At UN, Sweden Links EU Tariffs to Sri Lanka Carnage, and Inner City Press points out that the brother of the U.N. envoy to Sri Lanka is an Indian general who has recently praised the Sri Lankan Army's offensive.

Why do Sri Lanka's Tamils watch the carnage in silence?
COLOMBO - Thousands of Tamils in European capitals and elsewhere continue to press the United Nations and Western governments to stop the war in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government dismisses these protests as efforts to provide a lifeline to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is now on the brink of certain defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces.

But the diaspora Tamils say they are protesting to save their kith and kin who are either suffering in a five square kilometer theatre of war or several military-run camps.
[...]
Though the true picture of the war zone is still hazy, one thing is certain - the civilians are suffering. But, strangely, the Tamils living in other parts of Sri Lanka stage no protest. They once called the Tamil Tigers "our boys". But there are no demonstrations in Jaffna, Batticaloa or other Tamil areas in Sri Lanka as the security forces are all set to score a landmark victory over the "boys".

Why aren't they protesting? Why can't the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is the main Tamil party in parliament, mobilize the country's Tamils and take to the streets?

Sri Lanka refugees flee amid hail of Tiger fire (note: AP article with government source only)

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