Civilians are the casualties in Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war. In a rare report from inside former rebel-held areas, SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda meets fleeing refugees and ex-fighters. In the Independent:
From Paranthan, the road to Vallipuram is rich and green. Great expanses of paddy stretch out before you, clumps of palmyrah dot the land and little streams of water trickle by. As we near the fighting, paddy fields give way to broken buildings and blasted vehicles. Twisted trees and uprooted trunks line the way. Here, in an area formerly controlled by the Tamil Tigers but now in the hands of the Sri Lankan army as they besiege the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a last assault to end a 25-year-old civil war, everything is covered with a layer of brown dust. An occasional boat lies stranded on either side of the road, reminders of a last desperate attempt by the Tamil Tigers to hold back the tide. Blasting a reservoir in the path of the advancing Sri Lankan army, Tiger cadres counterattacked in boats, riding upon a wall of water. The water however, has receded and the Tigers have retreated.
As you enter the Kanishta High School, Vallipuram, the first thing you see is a brightly coloured board. Written at the top in vivid blue letters, is an inscription in Tamil.
“Our students (Our Lifeblood ), Those who Sacrificed their Lives For the Freedom of this Land”