People are willing to wait a long time for a few minutes in the hands of Aloysius Patrickeil, a 32-year-old barber who is part-owner of a small shop close to the northern town of Kilinochchi, 320 km from Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
The village of Valipunam, 322 km north of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, occupies one of the remotest corners of the country’s former war zone. The dirt roads are impossible to navigate, there are no street lights, telephone connections are patchy and the nearest police post is miles away, closer to the centre of the battle-scarred Mullaitivu district.
The recent arrest and deportation from Malaysia of three Sri Lankan Tamils on U.N. refugee status, under suspicion of trying to revive the disbanded Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has raised questions about regional security and minority politics.
It has been five years since Sri Lanka’s brutal three-decades-long civil conflict came to an end in May 2009, but for the country’s youth, true national reconciliation is still a long way off.
The bloody events that marked the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war between government and Tamil separatist forces will be the focus of an independent international investigation, according to a United Nations Human Rights Council decision.
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.