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Sri Lanka Entering "Period of Terror"

Sri Lanka Entering "Period of Terror"

The human rights situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated dramatically in recent months, as escalating violence has resulted in widespread human rights abuses and a climate of fear and insecurity. Increased fighting since April 2006 has resulted in the death and injury of scores of civilians, the displacement of more than 200,000 people, and the destruction of homes, schools, and places of worship. Neither the Sri Lanka government security forces appear to be taking adequate precautions to protect civilian lives.

the conflict situation on the ground as an undeclared war. Over two decades of conflict in Sri Lanka have claimed the lives of more than 65,000 people, the majority of them civilians.

There are fears that a pattern of "disappearances" by state agents is re-emerging in Sri Lanka following the introduction of new Emergency Regulations in August 2005 that granted sweeping powers to the Sri Lanka forces.

Sixty-two cases of "disappearance" in the north of the country have been registered by the Human Rights Commission over the past year. also investigating the status of 183 other individuals who are still missing under unknown circumstances.

Sri Lanka is entering a "period of terror" with an increasing number of people reported missing, allegedly abducted by both Sri Lanka forces and ethnic Tamil rebels, a human rights group said Wednesday.

With a 2002 cease-fire between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels on the verge of collapse, "the country is entering into a further period of terror ," the Asian Human Rights Commission said in a statement.

Human Rights Commission has said more than 400 ethnic Tamil youths have been reported missing since December, all from the Tamil-dominated northern Jaffna peninsula.

"In Sri Lanka, causing of forced disappearances has been treated by the state as a legitimate means by which to deal with 'terrorism,' the Asian Human Rights Commission said in a statement.

It accused the government of dragging its feet over addressing the increased disappearances.

State assurances that it would punish anyone found guilty "is a mere rhetorical gesture in the face of heavy criticism from local and international sources," the AHRC said.

"There is no state machinery to give credibility to such assurances," the Hong Kong-based rights group said.

The AHRC said many of those who disappeared were allegedly abducted by masked men in white vans, a reference to a sinister practice attributed to the military at the height of the country's 19-year-war between Sinhalese-dominated forces.


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