TEN people were killed and 86 wounded yesterday in a suicide bomb attack on a bus carrying riot police in the Sri Lankan capital Columbo.
The blast came hours after air force fighter jets bombed a Tamil Tiger base in the north of the country, where 27 Tamil Tigers and two government soldiers were killed on Thursday, according to the military.
These attacks and counter attacks are indicative of the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka since the peace process broke down in 2005.
In the last three years, 7,000 people have been killed in the conflict, compared with 300 people killed during the peace process, from 2002 to 2005, according to the National Peace Council in Sri Lanka.
More than 500,000 people have been displaced since 2005 and 10,000 cases of torture, illegal detentions, disappearances and abductions have been recorded by the Law and Trust Society in Sri Lanka. Since 2005, 37 Tamil aid workers and 10 journalists have been killed.
At least 80% of abuses were perpetrated by the state against Tamil people.
As Ireland celebrates 10 years since the Good Friday agreement, some Sri Lankans are hoping to learn lessons from the peace process.
“The biggest lesson from the Northern Ireland peace process is the key principle of parity of esteem of the parties to the conflict,” says Jude Lal Fernando of the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL).
“If the international community is to help the Sri Lankan people it should be on the basis of this principle — equal acknowledgement of the parties.” Fr Alec Reid, a key figure in the north’s peace process, will speak on Tuesday at an international meeting set up by the IFPSL. Other speakers include two exiled Sri Lankan peace campaigners and Fianna Fáil TD Martin Mansergh.
The Tamils in Sri Lanka are an ethnic people concentrated in the north and east of the country. The Tamil Tigers are a militant group which fight for an independent state and also provide social services in Tamil areas. They are listed as a terrorist organisation in 31 countries.
The US, China and Russia give military and financial aid to the Sri Lankan government, while the EU has trade and diplomatic links with the country.
At the same time, a coalition of 20 NGOs wrote to UN member states earlier this month urging them not to vote Sri Lanka onto the UN Human Rights Commission, next Wednesday, for failure to improve its rights record.
IFPSL meeting at Walton Theatre, Trinity College Dublin, 7pm-9.30pm on Tuesday next.
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