Groundviews

Would killing 50,000 civilians to finish off the LTTE bring peace?

[Editors note, 6 January 2011: This specific post and the debate that ensued is referred to and featured in Fire and Storm: Essays in Sri Lankan Politics by Prof. Michael Roberts. Read more here.]

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“I would accept 50,000 dead to finish the LTTE. That’s what it comes down to. And I would, to end that war.”

This is a verbatim excerpt from an email I got today from a prominent blogger in Sri Lanka. Truth be told, we have all heard this argument of late – sometimes in hushed whispers, at other times a loud and bold statement of patriotism. Some see merit in it, suggesting that since the LTTE is inextricably entwined with the civilian population, only a scorched earth policy can guarantee remaining cadres in the Vanni will be eliminated.

Others are outraged by the idea, and point to sickening videos of injured and dismembered children, the LTTE’s use of thermobaric weapons, and the Government’s shelling of hospitals, as macabre markers of a significant disregard for the protection of civilians by both parties to the conflict. To actively target hapless civilians, many feel, is not just a cost too high for peace, but lays seeds of discontent and violence that can seriously undermine future prospects for peace, stability and development in the regions most affected by decades of war.

What do you think?

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