Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday brushed off calls for an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by government troops in their offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels.
In a defiant speech delivered just hours before the arrival of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the president said he was even "ready to go to the gallows" as a consequence of defeating the separatist guerrillas.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his army have turned the conventional wisdom on fighting insurgencies on its head, adopting strategies and tactics long discredited, both in the battlefield and in the military classroom. Since they appear to have worked against the Tigers, other countries wracked by insurgencies — from Pakistan to Sudan to Algeria — may be tempted to follow suit. But Rajapaksa's triumph has come at a high cost in civilian lives and a sharp decline in democratic values — and he is no closer to resolving the ethnic resentments that underpinned the insurgency for decades.
Sri Lanka's president on Sunday ordered the military not to attack the Tamil Tigers during a two-day holiday in order to allow thousands of civilians to escape a no-fire zone where they are being held by the separatists...
There was no immediate comment from the LTTE, whose agreement to let the people go is essential. The United Nations and witnesses say people are being kept as human shields and forced conscripts or being shot as they try to flee.
In late January, Rajapaksa gave a 48-hour window of safe passage to civilians and urged the Tigers to let them go, but the rebels refused.
Exuding confidence that LTTE will never "raise its head again" after it suffered a string of military defeats at the hands of the Sri Lankan Army, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has asked the rebels to surrender, promising to "rehabilitate" them as "good citizens".