Sri Lankan Tamil hopes for a separate state – Tamil Eelam – in the north and east of the island were dashed when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were summarily defeated in May 2009 by government forces.
That it would be a visit fraught with diplomatic tension was undoubted. Navanetham ‘Navi’ Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, was into the third day of her week-long visit from Aug. 25 to Aug. 31 to Sri Lanka when her entourage broke into animated discussion.
It has been four years since the guns fell silent in Sri Lanka’s northern Vanni region, after almost three decades of ethnic violence. Unfortunately peace does not mean the end of hardship for the most vulnerable people here: the women.
For the first time since Sri Lanka’s 30-year-long civil conflict drew to a bloody finish in May 2009, casting an eerie hush over the Northern Province that had grown accustomed to the sounds of war, there is a buzz in the air generated by the prospect of provincial elections that hold the promise of radical change.
The camp should not have been difficult to find. We were told to drive straight on the road that leads north away from the town of Puttalam, 140 kilometres from Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, and we would come upon the settlement of internally displaced people.