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Tamils in Toronto

I spent a short amount of time at the Tamil vigil at Queen's Park last night... It was eerie and impressive. Thousands and thousands of people (they covered the entire Queen's Park front lawn) dressed in black and holding candles. From the stage, plaintive singing could be heard. I took some pictures which I will post a bit later. There was barely any coverage, other than the Star mentioning that traffic on University Ave. had re-opened after being closed for a couple hours.

How Sri Lanka's military won [BBC]

Today, Sri Lanka is among the few nations that can say it has successfully quelled a nearly three-decade insurgency by military means.
[...]"So many factors have contributed to the success of the Sri Lankan forces. There was a clear aim and mandate from the political level to the official level and to the military level to destroy the LTTE at any cost. There was no ambiguity in that," Gotabaya Rajapaksa told the BBC.

A massive recruitment drive for the armed forces was launched (it increased from about 80,000 to more than 160,000). New weapons, including fighter jets, artillery guns and multi-barrel rocket launchers were bought from countries like China, Pakistan and Russia and new military strategies and tactics were evolved.

"That was the time when the international community was totally disappointed with the rebels because of their insincerity in peace talks. So countries like India and the US gave their tacit support for the all-out offensive against the LTTE," says Sri Lankan analyst DBS Jeyaraj.
One of the main reasons for the rebels' eastern debacle was the split in 2004 - when the Tigers' influential eastern commander, Col Karuna, broke away because of differences with the leadership.

"The LTTE could never recover from that. Thousands of fighters went away with Karuna and the LTTE could not recruit fresh cadres from the east, dealing a severe blow to their manpower. They struggled hard to replace fallen cadres in the subsequent northern battle," says Col R Hariharan, former chief of military intelligence of the Indian Peacekeeping Force in Sri Lanka from 1987 to 1990.
"The Sri Lankan military juggernaut cruised ahead despite mounting civilian casualties. The rebels thought the international community, especially neighbouring India, would intervene looking at the civilian suffering and bring about a ceasefire in the final stages. When that did not happen, they ran out of options," says Mr Jeyaraj.

India? Did they forget who is the leader of the Congress Party? One of the mistakes Col. Karuna has been widely quoted saying he had a huge disagreement with was the killing of Rajiv Gandhi.

UN's chief apologist visits refugee camps and find nothing wrong with them

CHEDDIKULAM, Sri Lanka (AFP) — UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday came face-to-face with the despair of Sri Lanka's war-hit civilians as he toured the main refugee camp and flew over the devastated war zone.

Just days after Colombo declared victory over Tamil Tiger rebels, he toured the sprawling Menik Farm camp, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of the capital, which was jammed with 200,000 civilians displaced by the fighting.
The camp, referred to by Sri Lankan authorities as a "welfare village," was surrounded by barbed wire and under heavy guard.

Tamil activists have likened "welfare villages" to concentration camps, while UN and aid agencies have complained about restrictions on vehicle access to the shelters.

Asked whether the security was there to stop people leaving, Ban replied: "I don't think they are holding them (the civilians) back for any particular purpose.

"They're trying to resettle them, to reintegrate them," he said. "That is the Sri Lanka government's commitment."
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for a war crimes probe, a call backed by former colonial power Britain.

Tamil Tiger leader cremated: Sri Lanka army chief

"We cremated the body in the same area and threw the ashes into the (Indian) ocean," Fonseka said. "Even before Prabhakaran was killed, I knew we had won the war, but I was overjoyed when I had confirmation of his death."
Prabhakaran's former deputy, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan [Col. Karuna], who defected in March 2004, and a former Tiger spokesman known as Daya Master were flown to the northeast Tuesday and they positively identified their former boss.


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