The National Peace Council (NPC)

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Security Concerns Determine fate of vanni displaced Population

The humanitarian crisis in the north is once again taking centre stage in Sri Lanka’s international relations with the heavy rains that have flooded sections of the camps in which over a quarter of a million people are currently residing.  These are the very people about whose fate the international human rights organizations and several foreign governments began to agitate during the last phase of the war.  The visual images of tents into which water is seeping, and children and adults alike standing in the water and sewage, cannot but evoke humanitarian compassion.  The Sri Lankan government has come under increased pressure to improve the conditions of those camps, which it is committed to doing, and also to release the people, which it has problems doing.

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Ban on ethnic parties calls for reformed non ethnic state

The government has proposed to bring a new law that would ban political parties that have ethnic or religious labels in their names.  The new law also targets new, small and regional parties.  After the end of the 30 year separatist war there is a mood of optimism in government circles who feel themselves empowered by having done what previous governments failed to do. The government’s leadership has repeatedly expressed the intention of creating a united and unitary country in which there is but one people and a single nation.  President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s victory speech after the war called for the abolition of the term “minorities” from the country’s political vocabulary.  He added that in future there would be only two groups, those who loved the country, and a small and treacherous group who did not.  

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Implications of the Northern election verdict

The just completed local government elections in Jaffna and Vavuniya were the first in a long while to take place in those northern towns.  The last occasion on which municipal elections were held in Jaffna was in 1999, while in Vavuniya it was even further back in 1994.  At that time the LTTE was active and the elections were conducted in an environment fraught with tension and potential for violence.  By way of contrast, the elections on August 8, 2009 were conducted in a peaceful manner that evoked memories of a bygone era before the armed Tamil militancy took the upper hand in the North.

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Advantages of the us Proposal to end War

The government’s victory at the Western Provincial Council election would add to its confidence that it is proceeding on the popular path with regard to the war in the north.  At these elections the ruling alliance secured 65 percent of the popular vote, which is a huge margin of victory.  During the election campaign, President Mahinda Rajapaksa repeatedly called on the electorate to vote for the government and thereby give a message to the international community that it backed the government’s actions to defeat the LTTE.  With this latest manifestation of electoral popularity, the government may believe it is well positioned to carry on with its military offensive designed to retake the last remaining LTTE controlled territory in the north.

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International Support Cannot be Obtained for Keeping Civilians Trapped

A second bid to get Sri Lanka on the agenda of the UN Security Council has been reported, although without success so far, as some of the member states have objected.  But there many countries in the Security Council are reported to be in favour of discussing the humanitarian crisis in the north.  The countries supportive of discussing Sri Lanka at the Security Council level are reported to include the United States, while those opposing include Russia and China.  A few weeks ago the United States was reported to be prepared to lead a sea borne evacuation of trapped civilians from the north, but this offer did not come to fruition due to different sources of opposition.  Consequently, scores of civilians have either been reported to be fleeing the north by foot and by sea, or are being killed and injured by the fighting that is raging in the general area where they are trapped.  

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