Sri Lanka: districts redrawn to exclude Tamils?

Sri Lanka’s government is dividing districts in the east to prevent a Tamil homeland being created, potentially spoiling chances for a peace settlement, charged R. Sampanthan, parliamentary leader of the Tamil National Alliance party. The aim is to create an ethnic Sinhalese region between the port of Trincomalee in the Eastern Province and Mullaiththeevu in the Northern Province, Sampanthan told the TamilNet Web site. The army won control of the Eastern Province in July after 14 years of fighting with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE still controls parts of the northern Jaffna peninsula. (Bloomberg, Sept. 6)

Meanwhile, educational authorities in the east accuse the LTTE of launching a drive to conscript child soldiers. Fewer then 10% of students are presenting themselves for exams in Vanni, North Sri Lanka this year—reportedly afraid that if they leave their homes they will be press-ganged by the Tamil rebels. The alarm was sounded by the Minister for Social Services, Douglas Devanada, and the leader of the Tamil Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP). (Asia News, Sept. 4)

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