The victorious government forces in Sri Lanka have lost no time placing more than a quarter-million Tamils in concentration camps. While jubilant Sinhalese celebrate a national holiday in Colombo, these Tamils face, according to the government, imprisonment for up to two years.
They should live so long. International aid groups, including the Red Cross and the United Nations, are being denied access to the camps to provide humanitarian assistance. The situation is already grave: one-third of the mothers and children who have been interned arrived there already malnourished.
"You can't expect five-star treatment," said a government spokesperson, while claiming that the prisoners will receive basic necessities. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, however, has confirmed that the Sri Lankan government is barring emergency aid, and the Red Cross has stated that vital shipments of supplies are now being been blocked by government forces.
Meanwhile, Tamil paramilitary groups allied with the Sri Lankan forces have been allowed free access to the camps to abduct children. The word is that the kids are either being ransomed, to extract any remaining valuables from interned Tamil parents, or being questioned about their involvement with the Tamil Tigers. No doubt children will break more easily under interrogation.
Canada decided, for whatever reason, to choose sides in this conflict, which has claimed 100,000 lives over two decades. It named the Tigers "terrorists" in 2006, while tacitly supporting the equally bloody-minded Sri Lankan government. Now, as that government turns its baleful attention to the ethnic Tamils it is holding behind razor wire, will we turn a blind eye? May the mass traffic-stopping protests continue.
UPDATE: (May 22) Reports are now emerging of slaughter in the camps.