Sri Lankan conflict due to ‘repressive’ govts: Canada

OTTAWA, March 5, 2009 (AFP) – The 37-year conflict raging in Sri Lanka was borne out of “repressive” governments in Colombo, Canadian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said Thursday. “I am sure all Canadians share the government’s revulsion at the continuing humanitarian catastrophe in Sri Lanka, a civil conflict born of a succession of repressive Sri Lankan governments, which in turn spawned the terrorist organization known as the Tamil Tigers,” Kent told the House of Commons.

The Sri Lankan military launched an offensive in January against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

According to the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), over 200,000 civilians are caught in the fighting in the northeastern region of the island nation.

Canada, which since 2006 has labeled the LTTE a terror organization, is also home to one of the largest Tamil diaspora in the world.

The Tigers, who have been fighting since 1972 to carve out a separate Tamil homeland, have lost much of their territory in the past two years and are now holed up in a small jungle strip near the coast.