Sri Lanka should not be rushed into returning Tamil refugees

Pakyaraja Pradeep, a senior leader of the Tamil Tigers' intelligence wing has been apprehended by the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) on Monday, July 27 2009.

The Hindu
When caught, Pradeep was found to be carrying 7.5 kg of square bombs containing high explosives which could be detonated by remote control or a mobile phone, officials said.

A resident of the capital, who apparently sheltered the LTTE leader was also taken into custody. Later on information provided by the resident, who was not named, the intelligence officials recovered 10 suicide vests.
Pradeep was arrested in a home in Kotahena. (see map below)

Pakyaraja Pradeep's identity and location had been revealed to the authorities by another Tiger combatant who was apprehended just days ago at the Ananda Coomaraswamy welfare village (IDP camp) in Chettikulam, Vavuniya.

The arrest come as an eye opener to those who think the war is over. A senior LTTE operative, armed with a stock of explosives, in the Greater Colombo Area was a disaster waiting to happen.

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This further strengthens the point that there is still a lot more work to be done before the refugees can be granted free movement. The biggest threat for peace in Sri Lanka right now are the Tamil Tiger combatants hiding among the displaced in refugee camps. Tiger sleeper cells in other parts of the country is an issue as well.

I have stated repeatedly that those forcing Sri Lanka into rushing the return of the displaced, care not for the island's future. What may result when Tiger combatants flee and take Sri Lanka back into war is not of concern to those crying foul about the containment of displaced persons.

As Sri Lankans we must not be forced in to 'short term thinking mode.'

At a recent press conference, in response to a question from a reporter from the 'Socialist Website', the Assistant Secretary of State for Refugees for the US said:

"there is a bit of a dearth of information in the camps, and I have discussed [this] with the government and they understood completely the concerns I raised about the ability of people in the camps to have some understanding of what’s happening. People in those situations can endure a lot, but they can endure a lot more easily when they have some sense of what the end game is, and so we discussed better provision of information to people in the camps."

It is true, we must educate the displaced on why they are being confined. It must be explained in logical terms.

They know that their former villages bore the brunt of war. They need to know that the area is now being de-mined. They should know construction of roads is being completed. They must know that electricity and water will be provided. Most importantly they must know that when they return they will return knowing their kids can live in peace with no fear of war or forcible child recruitment.

It has become almost a weekly occurrence now where large stock piles of hidden arms are unearthed. Their locations revealed by Tiger combatants apprehended at the refugee camps (IDP camps).

After spending billions on war and displacing thousands, the Sri Lanka government must not allow the Tigers to take Sri lanka back to war. If it fails in this task it won't just affect 260,000 Sri Lankans. All of Sri Lanka's 20 million residents will suffer.

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