[JURIST] Human rights groups have called on the UN Human Rights Council [official website] to support an "independent international human rights monitoring mechanism" to guard against human rights violations and alleged disregard for civilian casualties in fighting between Sri Lanka government forces and the rebel Tamil Tigers that has claimed an estimated 1,500 lives since last November. The human rights groups, including Forum Asia, Pax Romana, INFORM and the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) [advocacy websites], accused both actors in the conflict of failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets. A similar statement [text] was delivered by a CPA spokesperson to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last week.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder; faction website], or the "Tamil Tigers," have demanded that the government of Sri Lanka establish an independent ethnic state for Tamils within the current boundaries of Sri Lanka, a demand the government has rejected since the 1970s. Over 60,000 people are estimated to have died since the Tamil Tigers began an open rebellion in 1972. In August, US officials arrested eight Tamil Tigers [JURIST report] for allegedly attempting to buy weapons in the United States to use against the Sri Lankan military. AFP has more.