Link: Fears of mass suicide as Tamil Tigers face final defeat [TimesOnline]
A week ago, Moggy at TPM Cafe warned of this exact possibility:
“It is therefore unsurprising that LTTE members, regardless of their ideology, would prefer a relatively quick death via explosion or cyanide capsule rather than surrender and risk being tortured, raped, starved and/or imprisoned prior to being killed” - Moggy @ TPM Cafe
The Tamil Tigers are a banned organisation in the UK and I’ve found that international news reports often reflect this, focusing on the terrorist nature of LTTE activities rather than the humanitarian crisis. The above article TimesOnline article has painted quite a grim humanitarian picture though and these are the salient details:
- The LTTE have offered to lay down their weapons in return for a guarantee of their safety but will consider suicide otherwise. Until earlier this year, the Tamils had run what was essentially a mini-state in the north of the country. The significance of this is that if they do opt for suicide, it is entire family units (including wives and children) that will take the cyanide capsules. The number of possible casualties is about 10,000. They are willing to surrender to a third-party international force and as part of the agreement there must be a commitment to an political process that will guarantee the political and human rights of the Tamil people.
- Doctors have reported that due to shelling of the area (which is the size of Hyde Park), there are about 2000 to 3000 unburied corpses and they cannot access the sick and wounded because of continued shelling. Families have been trapped in bunkers for a week without access to food and water.
- Aid agencies and journalists have been prevented from entering the region but estimates say that between 30,000 and 80,000 civilians are trapped.
Not only are the civilians being used as human shields, they are also all under suspicion of being in league with the LTTE, as Medico International reports:
“More than 30 000 persons have managed to flee the enclave through the front lines into the area controlled by the army. Around half of them have been brought into the city of Vavuniya., where, some heavily injured, they have been interned in prison camps run by the army and allied paramilitaries. They are all under general suspiscion (sic) of being LTTE members and are being subjected to systematic torture, rape and shootings, especially the young men and women” - Medico International
So by all accounts, it seems that we are on the threshold of a loss of between 10,000 and 80,000 lives this weekend. That is a terrifying possibility. Without urgent international intervention, the cost of human lives is going to be immense.