After over 25 years of conflict, the Tamil Tigers have finally laid down their arms and admitted defeat against the Sri Lankan army.

“This battle has reached its bitter end,” said Tamil chief of international relations, Selvarasa Pathmanathan:

“Against all odds, we have held back the advancing Sinhalese forces without help or support, except for the unending support of our people. It is our people who are dying now from bombs, shells, illness and hunger. We cannot permit any more harm to befall them. We remain with one last choice — to remove the last weak excuse of the enemy for killing our people. We have decided to silence our guns. Our only regrets are for the lives lost and that we could not hold out for longer. We can no longer bear to see the innocent blood of our people being spilled.”

But is this really the end, or simply the beginning of a new chapter in the struggle for human rights in Sri Lanka? With the dust still settling on the small patch of blood-soaked ground of Sri Lanka’s north-eastern coast where the Tigers saw their final stand, the world’s media descends:

The defeat of the Tamil Tigers. Colombo’s resort to bombing and heavy artillery fire, in a zone where tens of thousands of civilians were trapped, betrays a callous disregard for human life. And its reluctance to devolve power to the Eastern Province, where Tamils form the largest ethnic group, suggests a desire to reinforce the dominance of the island’s Sinhalese majority. The tone is more triumphalist than conciliatory. — Telegraph

Sri Lanka’s silenced dissenters still speak volumes. It is not enough for the guns to fall silent. The question looms large whether the Colombo government will seize this watershed moment to heal wounds, to bring together polarised communities. — Nirmala Rajasingam, The Independent

War may not quash Tamil aspirations. By ending Sri Lanka’s painful civil war, President Rajapaksa has succeeded where his predecessors had all failed, but now he must face the thorny political questions that triggered it, and that could one day see it return. While the days of the rebels’ paramilitary force are numbered, the historic and deeply held grievances of Tamils — foremost their desire for greater autonomy in the northern and eastern regions where they are the majority — remain unresolved. — Stewart Bell, National Post

The war may be over, but peace is still some way off. The question that’s on most observers’ minds is whether Rajapakse, who has won adulation from his Sinhala constituency for achieving what seemed to be a near-impossible task will also be able to persuade the large and divided Tamil community — many in the outside world view Sri Lankan Tamils as a monolithic entity and they couldn’t be farther from the truth — that his government will provide a benevolent and constructive leadership for all. — Ranjitha Balasubramanyam, Deutsche Welle

Roles of 1983 reversed? Personal attacks on members and institutions of the Sinhala community are naked revenge, a la 1983. They are uncharacteristic of the Tamils who are inheritors of a culture and tradition as noble and ancient as those of the Sinhalese. No reports are available so far of retaliation by the victims but reprisals are bound to follow, if the present trend of violence is allowed to continue unchecked. — Somapala Gunadheera, The Island

Distant voices, desperate lives. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have spilled their share of blood and perpetrated their own atrocities. But they are the product, not the cause, of an injustice and a war that long pre-date them. — John Pilger, New Statesman

What kind of “victory”? The Sri Lankan government released a press statement yesterday saying that all the civilians were out of the conflict zone. But that is a strange and very worrying claim. In recent days, the UN had been estimating that 50,000 to 80,000 civilians were still trapped. What has happened to them? — Andrew Stroehlein, AlertNet