On 18 April 1997, Asiaweek reported that the fourteen year old war had claimed 75, 000 lives. The Sri Lankan Government, however, only admitted a toll of 50, 000 realising that the majority of those killed were civilians. This tragic fact was brought out when a tally was made of the combatants killed. In January 1997, the Tamil rebels reported that their losses at the end of November 1996 stood at 9, 300. The London Observer Service, placed a similar number (9, 800) on the Government side for roughly the same period. Even if one accepted the Sri Lankan Government’s version of 50, 000 as accurate, it left the civilian toll at a staggering 30, 000! According to the Sri Lankan State-Controlled “Daily News” (inclined to exaggerate and thereby demonise Tamil rebels) of 4 March 1996, the Tamil Tigers were responsible for the deaths of 3, 571 civilians. This meant that the balance 27, 000 or more of the civilian deaths were those of Tamils at the hands of the Sri Lankan Government! Of course, if one went by Asiaweek’s estimate, the Tamil civilian toll rose to an astounding 52, 000 plus - well over 93% of all civilian deaths!

Sri Lanka: One Island, Two Nations by Ana Pararasingham (1997)

Add to this the civilian death toll at the tail end of the Civil War which ranges from 10, 000 according to the Government of Sri Lanka to 40, 000 according to UN estimates. Estimates from various other sources sometimes reach as high as 70, 000.

And of course mere body counts do not reveal the extent of crimes of systematic torture, rape, dispossession as well as destruction of ethno-linguistic identity carried out by the Sri Lankan state.

The ‘slow-burning’ genocide of Eelam Tamils is real and must be stopped.

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