For over two decades, there has been savage conflict in Sri Lanka between a minority group of Tamils who claim traditional rights for land in the north-east and the majority, Sinhalese, government in Colombo. The conflict has consumed tens of thousands of lives, displaced hundreds of thousands, sown agricultural land with mines, laid waste plantations, and stunted a generation of children. It could be argued that the only rule of warfare is the respect each side has for the capacity of the other to terrorise: the desire for self-preservation has tended to restrict the number of civilians being bombed. Nevertheless, human rights organisations have reported over 4000 Tamil deaths in recent months. The conduct and cost of the conflict is obscured by suppression of the press on the government side and lack of access of the press to the other.
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