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ON DECEMBER 5, 1995, Sri Lankan government troops raised the golden lion flag of Sri Lanka over Jaffna city. It was a triumphant return to the city they had abandoned in defeat over five years earlier. Waves of celebration spread across southern Sri Lanka. The capture of Jaffna, the heart of Sri Lankan Tamil culture and society, gave the victorious government forces and their supporters their most important victory in the 13-year-old civil war. Although the victory dealt a serious blow to the Tamil guerrilla group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), it did not defeat the Tigers nor diminish their desire to establish their own independent state of Eelam. The guerrilla army retreated and reestablished its defense lines in the eastern part of the Jaffna peninsula and Vanni jungles to the south. The celebration parties were premature; the fall of Jaffna only marked a new phase in a conflict which has evolved and changed over the nearly 25 years since the predecessor of the LTTE was formed by an 18-year-old youth, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, in 1972. The government has changed since the start of the conflict, and the rebel leaders have grown from young militants into middle-aged men, but the most important government victory in the war merely changed the structure of the debate in the conflict between the Tamil minority of Sri Lanka and the majority-Sinhalese government. The Onset of the War

Business & Personal Finance
June 22
Harvard International Relations Council, Inc.

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