02/05/2008, 00.00
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Sri Lanka, politicians celebrate independence while the people continue to die

by Melani Manel Perera
While anniversary celebrations were held in Colombo yesterday, attacks against civilians continued. Strong security measures are in place all over the island out of fear of rebel attacks. The population is at the breaking point: the politicians don't care about our lives, we have no freedom to celebrate, only misery.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - It makes no sense to celebrate independence when the country is at war.  This is the conviction of many of the citizens of Colombo, where celebrations were held yesterday for the 60th anniversary of independence from England.  The anniversary was preceded and accompanied by a series of explosive attacks.  The most serious of these killed 15 persons yesterday near Anuradhapura, in the northeast. 

The celebrations were held under rigid security measures.  The Sri Lanka Telecom Network suspended its text messaging service on February 4.  The schools, both public and private, are closed in the area of the capital until next Friday, out of fear of attacks by Tamil Tiger rebels.  "We would never have sent our children to school anyway", say some mothers, both Buddhist and Christian, "our politicians are wrong, and we are the victims".

The civilians continue to live in terror, above all after the withdrawal of the government last month from the cease-fire signed with the Tigers in 2002.  Since then, attacks have become a daily affair, and are striking not only the north and east, the areas contested in the civil war, but also the rest of the country - without sparing women and children.  "The political leaders continue to live their lives of luxury", denounces Wimala Kanthi, a Buddhist woman visiting her sick husband in the hospital in the district of Kalutara, "while our lives are increasingly miserable.  What a stupid thing it is to celebrate independence by taking away our freedom of movement, travel, visiting our loved ones".  The streets around Colombo are full of roadblocks and checkpoints, with police and army officers on every corner. 

Some blame the population.  According to a Catholic businessmen, Anthony Perera, "the people should have boycotted the celebrations, and should have refused to hang the national flag outside of their houses as the government suggested.  There is no freedom to be celebrated today in Sri Lanka".

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See also
Situation worsens for civilians in Wanni
Massacre of civilians, bishop of Jaffna calls for extension of buffer zone
Anglican Church: Both government and Tigers responsible for the massacre of civilians
Bishop of Chennai: nothing can justify the massacre underway in Sri Lanka
Colombo army: tens of thousands of civilians fleeing war zone


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