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Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 16:27 UK

Joy and wariness in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan army has declared an end to a 26-year bitter civil war between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebel group, LTTE, fighting for a separate homeland - after announcing rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had been killed.

People from different communities in Sri Lanka describe the atmosphere on the streets and give their reaction to the news.

SANJANA HATTOTUWA, WRITER AND COLUMNIST, COLOMBO

Sanjana Hattotuwa

Euphoric. That is the only way to describe the mood on the streets of Colombo. Kiri bath [milk rice] is being cooked and handed out on the streets.

Every single shop and house is carrying a flag. I have never seen so many flags out in the country.

People are joyful, celebrating, there are firecrackers literally everywhere you go. I was in Colombo and they were throwing firecrackers onto the street. It is one big party.

On Groundviews, the blog I run, we have looked at various scenarios in the last few days. People have been speculating. What is clear is that this is a definite end to the LTTE as we know it.

They are playing patriotic songs on radio. There is fervour, release, hope, joyfulness. Many people thought it was impossible.

The government doesn't seem to have articulated a post-war plan. Whether they are going to be more open about dissent in the country also remains to be seen. The war against the media is the hidden war. Freedom of expression is almost dead.


DIMUTH GUNAWARDENA, COMMODITIES TRADER, COLOMBO

Dimuth Gunawardena

I feel fantastic. It has been a long, long battle. I feel eternally grateful to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives. They must have suffered.

I am grateful to the political leadership and president who had the courage and leadership to withstand the international pressure that came up in the last few months to save the LTTE.

We need our country, we need to move on. We have to build bridges. We should reach out to the internally displaced peoples and make sure we address their concerns.

The celebrations are mainly to do with the end of the suicide terrorism that was being practised by the LTTE. It has nothing to do with racism.

It is the mere fact that we feel our country has been freed of the terror and violence on all sides.

ANONYMOUS TAMIL MAN, SOUTHERN SRI LANKA

We are OK. But we have to survive. Our minds are not free to express ourselves. We are sad.

He [Prabhakaran] was a leader. Whether he was right or wrong is a different matter. But he was a leader.

The government will have to come up with a solution. This is a time to come with a solution. They say they want to destroy terrorism and they want to put forward a solution. We will have to wait and see. It is an uncertain time for us. We have to just watch and wait.

We have not been taking part in the celebrations. How can we take part? We are not free to talk and express our views. Even on the phone I cannot tell you everything. I can't say if we are being monitored or not.

We are suspicious.

NIHAL ABEYGUNAWARDENA, COMPANY DIRECTOR, COLOMBO

Nihal Abeygunawardena

I am happy to have survived to this day. If the war had continued, I am not sure I would have stayed alive. In Colombo, we don't know but we may get killed at any time. This is a relief.

Our economy, our earnings have been diverted to fight terrorism. We have to develop the roads, we have to develop the infrastructure in the north-east and provide security and support and new homes for the displaced.

They are lighting crackers and displaying the Sri Lankan flag. People seem to be very happy.

SUBHA WIJESIRIWARDENA, ACTOR AND BLOGGER, COLOMBO

I have mixed feelings. I can't say I am happy. This success, this military success has come at such a great price. The price that we have paid has been so drastic and it is bittersweet.

It is not a victory where I feel like jumping for joy. I feel solemn. I feel that this is a crucial turning point and not the end. It feels more like the beginning of something.

More than winning the war, what is important is what is to come. And what decisions those in power will make to take this country to a different place.

This had to happen in order for development to follow. With a war, you don't have money, people live in poverty, in fear, there is no good education or development.

ANURA SHAMINDA KUMARASINGHAM

People are very happy about what is happening. Most people in Colombo are celebrating. Even Tamils are celebrating. I don't know if that is just to get points from the majority.

It's hard to know how people, especially Tamil people in Colombo, are really thinking. Normally Tamil people don't give their feelings directly because you don't know what will happen. Some might think that if they don't celebrate they will be cornered.

It is a pathetic situation up in the north and east. Innocent people have been killed according to my knowledge. But then we don't get proper news.

Normally Tamil people don't give their feelings directly because you don't know what will happen

Now we have to look after people. I don't see that just because the war is over, it is over. First of all we have to look after those displaced people. On one side we are celebrating, and on the other people are suffering in camps.

It doesn't matter if we are Tamil or Sinhalese, we are all human. No country belongs to anybody. You live and die. Now it is time to bring a proper peace. I hope the new generation is one of positive thinkers. Then we can celebrate.

AZAM BAKEER MARKAR, SRI LANKA

Azam Bakeer Markar

I am very happy. It has been 30 years and so many people have sacrificed a lot for this. They have lost a lot of loved ones. Communities have been displaced. They have seen a lot of pain.

I have been travelling around Sri Lanka. I could see people on the streets celebrating. People were waving flags on the road. It is a phenomenal sight. It is something we never thought we would see in our lives.

The LTTE has always been a terrorist organisation although they claim to represent Tamils. The only drawback, if you look at it from a Tamil point of view, is that they may feel their legitimate concerns might not have a strong voice anymore.

This is also a historic opportunity. If the president doesn't address the core issues and concerns of the Tamil communities something is bound to crop up again.




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