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article imageTamils freed from camps, international community responds Special

By Andrew Moran     Dec 4, 2009 in World
On Tuesday, the Sri Lankan government temporarily released thousands of Tamils and the international community is now responding to the progressive closure of the internatl displacement camps.
On December 1, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa opened the internal displacement camps that housed over 300,000 Tamils. The President also announced in the same week that the camps, that have been dubbed “concentration camps,” will be entirely closed by January 31, 2010.
As thousands of Tamils are leaving the camps, the international community has responded such as the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, who recently said, according to Nidahasa, “This is a decisive step in the return to a normalized situation for the civilian populations who were victims of a bloody armed conflict.”
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, spoke with the BBC on Thursday to discuss the recent release of Tamils and said that they were free to leave temporarily but only if they provided details so they can be monitored by the government.
The Christian Science Monitor notes that freed Tamils may have their voice heard in the recently called early elections by Rajapaksa, which will most likely be held in January. Rajapaksa is quite popular in Sri Lanka because of the end of the 30-year civil war. The former Chief of Sri Lanka’s army, General Sarath Fonseka, announced on Sunday that he will be the main challenger against Rajapaksa.
A new poll released on Thursday, reports the United Press International, suggests that 64 per cent of Sri Lankans are optimistic about their economy but economic growth in the region slowed to 3.5 per cent in 2009, which is down from 6 per cent in 2008.
The Sri Lankan government also announced last week that they want to host the next Commonwealth Summit but the international community is strongly against such a bid. Digital Journal reported that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will try to block the move.
Dev Fakruddin, a Toronto Tamil demonstrator, told Digital Journal in an e-mail on Thursday evening that the entire situation is a “quagmire” and the entire world will know exactly about the situation in the next several months “most likely after the election.”
“Whenever I read or hear news about Sri Lanka, I always have a frustrated look on my face because I know it’s never the correct news or unbiased. I know that Tamils aren’t being released 100 per cent but the major news outlets are saying the chaos in Sri Lanka is over. But that is not true. I don’t like it one bit. Until Tamils worldwide tell others they can travel peacefully, live their lives and earn a living then I will not worry and believe news reports.”
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