Bomb attacks on civilians in Sri Lanka must stop
By Satheesan Kumaaran
June 14, 2008

The killing of innocent people is war against humanity and the criminals should be punished with an iron-fist with no mercy. Punishing the perpetrators of these crimes would emphasize that the use of this tactic to attain their goal, is not acceptable. Dividing the people along ethnic lines in Colombo or in the suburbs, or arresting innocent Tamil-speaking people in the South will add fuel to the already burning fire. The government is obligated and is morally accountable to the parliament to find out who the perpetrators are. Peace-loving Sinhalese and Tamils have never wanted to see such bomb attacks targeting civilians and want to see them stopped.

South suffers effect of North and East war
Parents who send their children to school in buses, and parents, spouses, or relatives of those who work outside their home live in fear that they will not return home. The elderly and others in hospital do not know whether they will return home. Religious devotees attending religious institutions do not know if they will return home.

The bombings target buses and trains loaded with people, creating a sense of fear among civilians. The civilians in the South rarely felt the effects of the war between the LTTE and Sri Lankan armed forces while they fought in Sri Lanka's North and East. However, things have changed in the South following the series of bombings targeting commuters.

Roadside bombings on the rise in the South
The bombing of buses or trains, or the detonation of roadside fragmentation mines as buses or trains pass during rush hour is nothing short of cowardice. Politically or militarily motivated attacks should never target innocents. Attacking a military installation is one thing and is considered proper war "etiquette". However, it is ethically and morally unacceptable to unleash violence against unarmed people.

An attack carried out the week prior to the June 6 attack, targeted two trains. Two weeks before that, alert bus passengers noted two unattended parcels inside two different buses, one at Kadawatte and the other in Moratuwa. Bomb disposal squads were called in and confirmed that these parcels were, in fact, bombs and defused them.

Hours before Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan was to be sworn in as the first Chief Minister of Sri Lanka's Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) on May 16 by President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle rammed a police vehicle opposite the high-security zone killing 12 persons and injuring 70.

President condemns the LTTE
On the eve of the attack on the two buses in the South, President Rajapaksa issued a statement condemning the LTTE bomb attacks saying: "Today's explosion at Katubedda once again shows the LTTE's brutality and lack of respect for human life...While unreservedly condemning repeated acts of outrageous brutality by the LTTE, in its cowardly strategy of targeting innocent civilians, I note that this is further proof of the LTTE's frenzy over its major military setbacks in the North, and the loss of its hold in the Eastern Province...The continued targeting of innocent civilians by the LTTE must earn the outrage and opprobrium of all civilized societies, who can now see the reality of the LTTE's unvarying commitment to violence and terror to achieve its narrow objectives."

The President should hold those responsible accountable, otherwise the people will lose confidence in their government and in the security of their country. Whoever the perpetrators of the crimes are, the government in Colombo should bring those responsible to justice. Incorrectly issuing condemnation letters in a desperate moment against a common enemy only allows the real perpetrators of the crime to roam free without punishment.

Tamils being arrested and detained
Security forces continue to arrest and detain Tamils caught at the scene of any of these acts. Regardless of whether they are lawyers or medical doctors, Tamils found near the scenes of these incidents are taken in for questioning. The police then announce that they have arrested suspects only to release their detainees after questioning. Those wrongfully arrested are forever branded of having been involved in crimes under the terrorism prevention act and can never travel abroad. So, it is not only those who have been victims in one of these bombings that suffer, the public at large does, as well. And, the perpetrators of the crime escape without punishment.

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