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Sri Lanka set for anarchy: rights group

The rights group added that the situation in the strife-hit island mirrored the mid-1980s.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2006 08:49 IST

Sri Lanka appears set for anarchy, a leading rights group has warned, adding that the situation in the strife-hit island mirrored the mid-1980s "where people count for nothing".

The University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) has come down hard on both Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and raised doubts if President Mahinda Rajapakse is really in control of the state of affairs.

"The political outlook for the Tamils is bleak," said a report, "A Note on Current Developments". "There is hardly any space for activists to mobilize the people and do political work."

"The LTTE presently stands to gain some lost ground because of the government's senseless descent to lawlessness," it said. "Sri Lanka seems set for a period of anarchy."

UTHR said the government is responsible for the killings of "a number of Tamil spokesmen and three MPs ... in all of which available indications point to the involvement of state security services".

The report by UTHR, widely seen as one of the best informed sources on Sri Lanka's northeast, comes at a time when fresh fighting in the country has led to more civilian displacement and killings and sparked international concern.

The group said the government was "intent on depopulating Tamil villages down from Sampoor in Trincomalee district to Vaharai in Batticaloa north, just as it happened in the mid-1980s."

"The ongoing calculated provocations by the LTTE, reprisals ... and the routine lying by both sides have taken us back to the mid-1980s where people count for nothing."

The UTHR has raised questions if President Rajapakse, who visited India last month, was really in absolute control of the situation.

It quotes sources from Left parties close to Colombo as saying that "the government is in the hands of six persons around the president, including a senior member of the judiciary."

"It is the thinking of these persons to take it out on the Tamils for the LTTE's actions and place on the Tamil people the onus of bringing the LTTE to terms."

The report says of the president: "Unless he commands the political will to rein in the impunity his government has unleashed, even he would not be able to predict his position this time round a year hence."

UTHR is equally harsh on the LTTE, whose leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has vowed to step up the Tamil separatist campaign.

"It is on Prabhakaran that the blame for the re-emergence of war in its current virulent form must be laid," it said, accusing him of refusing to accept a reasonable settlement to the dragging conflict.

It also accused the international community, Norway included, of trying to appease the LTTE. "The way the international community ran the CFA (ceasefire agreement), all the LTTE's opponents were delegitimised as paramilitaries."

UTHR has also taken pot-shots at the Sri Lankan Supreme Court for delivering in October a ruling suggesting bifurcation of the northern and eastern provinces that were united by the 1987 India-Sri Lanka accord.

"The judgement is an undeserved affront to India and to Indian troops who perished in Sri Lanka... There can no longer be any illusions about the position of minorities in Sri Lanka."