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August 14, 2009

Scenes from Sri Lanka

Only three months after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) were defeated in the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka, signs of economic recovery and a new sense of security are emerging across the country. Government and business groups are working hard to rebuild a tourist industry once hampered by fear of terrorist attacks, and fishermen are enjoying more freedom to fish harbors long restricted by the military. Although the popular mood seems optimistic, and the international community is encouraging rebuilding efforts with loans and other assistance, questions remain about the Sri Lankan government's tactics in the last weeks of the war - and its current treatment of Tamil refugees. Amnesty International's Science for Human Rights project just released a troubling analysis of satellite imagery of the restricted combat zone and Sri Lankan police continue to restrict access to journalists - and continue to prevent refugees from leaving their camps. [Editor's note: The Big Picture will be on vacation next week - next entry on 8/24] (33 photos total)

A Buddhist monk looks on from behind a Buddhist flag at the Island Temple in Kogalla, outskirts of Galle in Sri Lanka, Wednesday, July 8, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

School children descend the steps as they return after a visit to the rock fortress in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009. Sigiriya (Lion's rock), an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin situated in central Sri Lanka is a World Heritage Site. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

A child holds an oil lamp in front of the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) as they take part in a procession during the Esala Perahera festival in the ancient hill capital of Kandy August 4, 2009. The festival features a nightly procession of Kandyan dancers, fire twirlers, traditional musicians and elephants and draws thousands of spectators from around the country. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash) #

Sri Lankan officer cadets march at a ceremony for 281 new army officers' graduation at the central hill town of Diyatalawa on July 4, 2009. (Ishara S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Pakistani cricket captain Younus Khan (right) plays a stroke during the first day of the first Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle on July 4, 2009. (LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan bowls at a practice session ahead of the second one-day international cricket match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, Friday, July 31, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

A fisherman prepares his net for the night at Kandalama Lake, near Dambulla, Sri Lanka on July 31, 2009. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash) #

A visitor looks at frescoes on a rock face at the rock fortress in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009. Sigiriya (Lion's rock) is a popular tourist destination renowned for its ancient fresco paintings. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

The shadow of the rock fortress is seen on the forest canopies below, in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

Kandyan dancers perform in front of the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) as they take part in a procession during the Esala Perahera festival in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, Sri Lanka on August 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash) #

A man displays a 3-day-old green turtle hatchling before releasing it into the ocean at a turtle hatchery in Kosgoda, north of Galle, Sri Lanka on July 7, 2009. Of the world's eight turtle species, Sri Lanka is home to five. Turtle hatcheries along the coast provide a way of earning a living for the people running them and also help combat the poaching of turtle eggs. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash) #

Three elephants, including one carrying a casket believed to contain a Buddha tooth relic (center), stand in front of the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) as they take part in a procession during the Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka on August 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash (SRI LANKA RELIGION ANNIVERSARY SOCIETY) #

An elephant feeds at an elephant orphanage in Pinnawala, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, July 28, 2009. The elephant orphanage aims to take care of orphaned or abandoned elephants in the jungles of Sri Lanka. The mahouts, or elephant keepers, feed the elephants and take them twice a day to a nearby river for bathing and drinking water. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

An elephant herd bathes at a river near an elephant orphanage in Pinnawala, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, July 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

In this photograph taken on July 7, 2009, a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee girl displaced by the conflict between military troops and Tamil Tigers looks on from a window in her tent school in a refugee camp at Cheddikulam in the northern district of Vavuniya. Sri Lanka's military restricts access to some 300,000 internally displaced people held in tightly-guarded camps where journalists are allowed in only under the supervision of the authorities. (Ishara S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Sri Lankan ethnic Tamils prepare to board buses as army soldiers guide them before they are sent to their hometowns at a transit center in Vauvniya, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009. Sri Lanka recently sent about 1,100 war-displaced people back to their homes from overcrowded camps in the north. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena) #

Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil doctors from left, V. Shanmugarajah, Thurairaja Varatharajah, and Thangamuttu Sathyamurthi prepare to address the media in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, July 8, 2009. A group of Sri Lankan doctors who worked in the war zone and have been in police custody for nearly two months were brought before the media Wednesday to recant their reports of mass civilian casualties during the final days of the civil war. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena) #

In this June 8, 2009 photograph, internally displaced ethnic Tamil civilians flock around a well at a camp for displaced in Manik Farm in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. (AP Photo) #

A Sri Lankan Tamil child displaced by fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels is treated in a makeshift hospital inside a camp complex where refugees are held by authorities in the district of Vavuniya on July 7, 2009. (Ishara S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Buddha statue is reflected in a lake at the Tsumani Honganji Vihara in Peraliya, north of Galle, Sri Lanka on July 7, 2009. The statue at the Vihara, along the coast, was built with Japanese assistance after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash) #

People sit on the edge of a lookout on the walls of a 16th century Dutch fort as the sun sets in Galle, Sri Lanka on July 8, 2009. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash) #

In this photo taken Wednesday, July 8, 2009, Sri Lankan fishermen, also known locally as stick fishermen, sit perched on stilts fixed into the ocean floor as they fish in Koggala area, south of Galle, Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

A Sri Lankan fisherman avoids a wave as he wades into the water to take his place on stilts, south of Galle, Sri Lanka, Thursday, July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

A Sri Lankan girl peeps from her window as the train rolls out from the railway station in Galle, Sri Lanka, Thursday, July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

Sri Lankan train commuters sit in a railway train coming from Galle and connecting further to Anuradhapuram, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

A vendor displays a Video CD of the Sri Lankan army offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels which he holds above a poster of Lord Buddha on a moving train train about 50 km (31 mi) north of Galle, Sri Lanka, Thursday, July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

Sri Lankan torch bearers wait for festivities to begin on opening night of the annual Kandy Esala Perahera festival occuring for the first time since the end of the country's civil war July 27, 2009 in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Eight people were killed when the temple was bombed and partially destroyed in a suicide attack by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1998. Organizers are expecting attendance to nearly double this year at the festival as fears of terror attacks have dwindled following the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war with the LTTE. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) #

Hindu devotees take part in a procession of chariots during the annual Chariot Festival in Wellawattha, Sri Lanka on July 26, 2009. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A monkey rests on a wall as another grooms it at the rock fortress ruins in Sigiriya, near Dambulla, July 26, 2009. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash) #

Sri Lankan traditional dancers from Budawatta Dance Troupe perform during the launch of "Meet in Sri Lanka" campaign, in New Delhi, India, Friday, July 31, 2009. The campaign is launched by Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry and Sri Lankan airlines to attract tour operators and Indian tourists. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup) #

A Christian priest holds a small idol of Our Lady of Good Voyage as her main idol lies covered in floral tributes and decorations, right, atop a fishing boat, at a fishing port in Negambo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, July 19, 2009. Fishermen of the Christian community take out a traditional annual procession of the Lady of Good Voyage from a local church by foot and then later by boat to the ocean, as an expression of thanks for what the community considers her blessings for safe voyage. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

Fishermen push their boat ashore as they use the waves to help them get it onto the beach in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka on July 7, 2009. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash) #

A Sri Lankan fisherman walks into the water in the Koggala area, Sri Lanka on Thursday, July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

 
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