June 2, 2009 / 4:47 PM / 10 years ago

Sri Lanka on guard for separatist revival - minister

* Minister says Sri Lanka keeping close eye for foment

* Says guarding against separatism key to aid initiatives

By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA, June 2 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka is keeping a close eye for signs of separatism among the hundreds of thousands of people made homeless by its civil war, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka’s minister of disaster management and human rights stressed that work is under way to root out remaining insurgents who may jeopardise the Indian Ocean island’s fragile peace.

"The government of Sri Lanka will continue with its efforts to weed out terrorists who have infiltrated the ranks of IDPs (internally displaced persons) and the civilian population," Mahinda Samarasinghe told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

He said that his government is also busy demining the former war zone and providing aid to ethnic Tamil and other survivors.

"To sustain these initiatives we need to be on our guard against any attempts to revive and revitalise separatism, disunity and destabilisation," he told the forum which last week held a two-day session on Sri Lanka’s 25-year separatist war.

"We are acutely conscious that these are people who have gone through much and have the right to safety and security and the legitimate expectation of a return to normalcy," he said.

According to United Nations estimates 80,000-100,000 people were killed in the Sri Lankan civil war that erupted in 1983.

Colombo declared itself victorious in that conflict on May 18 after killing the top leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which has been fighting for an independent homeland for ethnic Tamils in the majority Sinhalese country.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Sri Lankan human rights group said it received a threat accusing it of treason, the day after a media activist was beaten in politically tinged violence. [nCOL111150]

Government officials have warned in state media they are investigating journalists believed to be on the payroll of the LTTE or Tamil Tigers, listed as a terrorist group by more than 30 countries and known for perfecting the suicide bomb jacket. (Editing by Louise Ireland)

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