Sri Lanka extends anti-terror laws despite defeat of Tigers

June 9, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government on Tuesday extended tough anti-terror laws, arguing that remnants of the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels could still try to stage a comeback. Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told parliament that the government wanted to extend the state of emergency by a month despite last month’s defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the deaths of their leaders.

“There could be fire beneath the embers,” he said. “If there are elements who still support terrorism, we will deal with them.”

The state of emergency allows the government to arrest and detain suspects for indefinite periods without trial.

The military has detained more than 9,200 Tigers, but fear that rebel cells may still be active across the island.

Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since 1983 with a few short breaks in between. Parliament must vote on the state of emergency every month.

The United Nations has estimated that up to 100,000 people may have been killed in the island’s decades-long Tamil separatist conflict.