Aerial photos indicate that about two thirds of the Tamils in the no-fire zone have fled the area in the last few days. That leaves about 40,000 people in the zone, held at gunpoint by LTTE fighters, to serve as human shields, and provide photo ops of "atrocities" used as part of an international propaganda campaign to force Sri Lanka to stop fighting and negotiate. That won't happen, but the LTTE is willing to kill lots of Tamil civilians in an effort to keep their cause alive. Right now, all the LTTE have is less than ten kilometers of beach, and about a kilometer of ground inland. The army is advancing into this area, moving out the civilians first. In the last week, the army has taken about a third of the no-fire zone. There are fewer than a thousand trained LTTE fighters in this zone, and another thousand or so recent recruits. They are low on food, medicine and ammunition. Each day, more of that beach will be lost to the advancing troops.
April 21, 2009: In the last two days, the army has helped over 60,000 Tamil civilians escape the LTTE. The government has mobilized nearly 200 buses to move the refugees to temporary shelters. Several air force helicopters are moving the very sick or badly injured to hospitals.
April 20, 2009: Over 30,000 Tamil civilians walked out of the no-fire zone, ignoring LTTE attempts to stop them. There was some violence against the civilians by LTTE fighters, but the thousands of Tamils were determined to get to safety. The exodus was triggered by an army advance that captured a large section of the LTTE earth wall (about three meters high) surrounding the area, and made it difficult for civilians to just walk out of the no-fire zone. The LTTE responded by firing on the escaping civilians, and used three suicide bombers (who killed 17 civilians, and wounded over 200) to try and halt the exodus. But the Tamil civilians kept coming, knowing they would be safe once they reached Sri Lankan controlled territory. An air force UAV captured video of the LTTE firing on the fleeing civilians.
In France, police arrested 210 Tamil demonstrators who got violent during a demonstration in Paris. Sri Lanka has given the LTTE 24 hours to surrender, before the army goes in to rescue the rest of the Tamil civilians being held hostage by the LTTE.
April 18, 2009: Nearly 3,000 Tamils, most of them children, escaped the no-fire zone in northeastern Sri Lanka. The army had been monitoring LTTE radio communications, and knew that many of the civilians were fed up and risking their lives to march out of the zone in large numbers. Thus the army was ready for this group, with food, water and medical help standing by. The Tamils reported that many of the LTTE gunmen were less willing to fire on Tamil civilians, and that many more civilians were now willing to risk getting shot, in an effort get out. Soldiers killed at least 17 LTTE gunmen while clearing roads leading into the no-fire zone. This makes it easier for civilians to march out.
Meanwhile, Tamils continued to demonstrate in Europe (especially Britain, Holland and France), calling for European governments to put pressure on Sri Lanka to agree to a ceasefire and negotiations with the LTTE. Tamils in southern India, where they comprise an important voting bloc, are demanding that the Indian government intervene militarily to stop the fighting (and save the LTTE.) Despite the importance of Tamil votes, Indian politicians have refused to intervene.
April 17, 2009: In Britain, a Tamil immigrant, Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar, was convicted of providing the LTTE with military supplies purchased in Britain, and supporting LTTE terrorist activities. Chrishanthakumar is a prominent Tamil leader in Britain, and ignored police warning to cease his logistical support for the LTTE. This conviction did not help the LTTE cause, which in Britain has consisted of numerous large demonstrations in London, by Tamil expatriates. Britain declared the LTTE a terrorist organization eight years ago, but Tamil demonstrators still display LTTE banners, and a general support for the terrorist organization. As a result of all this, the pro-LTTE activity gets little positive feedback from the British population at large. The situation is similar in other countries with lots of Tamils (Canada, France, Norway).
April 16, 2009: As a 24 hour government ceasefire ended, the fighting resumed. About a thousand Tamils escaped the 14 square kilometers safe zone during that period. The Tamil civilians report armed and aggressive LTTE fighters are coercing civilians into staying in the no-fire zone. The army is apparently putting together a plan to get the civilians out, and somehow neutralize the LTTE gunmen trying to prevent that.