Internally Displaced Persons’ Lives In Danger


TAMILNET reports that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in Vavuniyaa has held back for weeks a vehicle bringing 52 oxygen cylinders from Colombo to Ki’linochchi public hospital.

These are urgently needed to save the lives of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are increasingly subjected to indiscriminate shelling, air attacks and road accidents.

Although two of three lorries carrying medical supplies that had been waiting for weeks were finally allowed to reach the hospital on Monday, the lorry with oxygen cylinders was not allowed to cross the Oamanthai entry point by the SLA.

There is an acute need for oxygen cylinders at Ki’linochchi hospital, according to Dr P Brighton, the assistant Deputy Provincial Director of Health (DPDH).

He added that the stock of oxygen cylinders in the hospital is completely exhausted as the need for the gas is extremely acute in Vanni due to victims continually being injured in the air strikes and artillery barrages.

Besides, the congestion of traffic due to Internally Displaced Persons fleeing in haste in large numbers along the trunk roads in Vaani has escalated the number of road accidents and many civilians are being injured.

S Osman Charles, the assistant DPDH of Mullaiththeevu district said the situation was also alarming at the Mullaiththeevu hospital where many patients were warded.

He also confirmed that the SLA at Oamanthai entry point to Vanni did not permit the vehicle carrying 52 oxygen cylinders to enter Vanni. Only the other two vehicles transporting medicines reached the area.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Air Force, the air arm of the Tigers has been in action.

A turbine operator at the Kelanitissa power plant was killed in the explosion, and two turbines and air coolers sustained damage when Tamileelam Air Force (TAF), the air wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) attacked the powerplant on Tuesday night.

The air-strike was carried out on the target in Colombo, after attacking the Tha’l’laadi garrison of the Sri Lankan forces in Mannaar, inflicting heavy damage to the Tha’l’laadi base, which functions as the rear station for the Sri Lankan military operation on Vanni from the Mannaar front.

The victim who died in the explosion was identified as 52-year-old Ranjith Edward Wijesuriya.

The last time the Tigers carried out a joint attack on Sri Lankan forces’ Vanni Headquarters (Vanni SF-HQ), the Sri Lankan forces claimed that they had shot down one of the Tigers’ planes. But the Tigers said all their aircraft landed safely following the Vavuniyaa operation.

This time, the TAF bombers have carried out a long-range bombing mission, carrying out bombardments on two targets.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Doctors’ Association For Social Equality in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in India, has requested the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, and Union Minister for Health, Mr Anpumani Ramados, to arrange permission for them to visit the war zone and offer their services to war-torn Eezham Tamils.

The request has come from the General Secretary of the association, Dr G R Ravindranath.

The Doctors’ Association For Social Equality is the medical union of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Tamil Nadu wing. The 400-strong doctors have already embarked upon arranging the needed medical supplies.

l Quick on the heels of the news report that hundreds of Tamil schoolchildren had a hair’s-breadth escape from death due to an airstrike by the Sri Lanka Air Force last Tuesday, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) President Thol Thirumavalavan said in a press conference in Chennai that ‘an immediate ceasefire in the island nation should be the primary concern of the Tamil Nadu and Indian governments.

Thirumavalavan lauded Chief Minister Karunanidhi for his efforts to ensure peace in the island nation and requested him not to drop his resignation ultimatum, but to instead, postpone it until a later date.

Addressing reporters at his party headquarters, the VCK President pointed out that there would be a lot of procedure and protocol required to bring about a ceasefire.

He also said he believed that the discussion between a nation’s External Affairs Minister and a Chief Minister cannot be disclosed to the public, therefore, he said that it would be pointless to speculate.

Thirumavalavan expressed belief that India would take up the issue of a ceasefire with Sri Lanka.

He added that such a decision cannot be taken by either Pranab Mukherjee or Kalaignar Karunanidhi, but it would have to be decided at Prime Ministerial level.

And he praised Chief Minister Karunanidhi for his resolve in the Eelam Tamils issue. He also observed that the decisions taken in the All Party Meeting of October 14, 2008 had tremendous effect on the Indian and Sri Lankan governments which could be seen from Basil Rajapaksa’s recent visit to India and Pranab Mukherjee’s dash to Chennai.

Responding to a query about the arrest of Tamil Nadu political leaders, Vaiko, Seeman and Ameer, he condemned it as a violation of the freedom of expression.

And taking a jab at AIADMK General Secretary Jayalalitha, who has been vehemently demanding his arrest over the last week, Thirumavalavan said: ‘Those who adore cardboard-sword fighters can never recognise and appreciate real heroes.

‘That is why freedom fighters who are waging a liberation struggle are being misconstrued as extremists.

‘I stand by whatever I have said. The VCK is not a party which is afraid of imprisonment. In case the Chief Minister is convinced that there is prima facie evidence against me, let that information be conveyed to me, I will immediately stand at the doors of the prison.

‘The Chief Minister need not be worried that my arrest will disturb the alliance between the DMK and the VCK.’

The VCK leader also pointed out the double standards prevailing over the issue of freedom of expression. ‘Newspapers like ‘The Hindu’ and ‘India Today’ can carry pictures of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE) Chief Pirapakaran, because it is their freedom of expression. But if we carry his pictures in a rally, then it is said to be against national interests.’

Following the press conference, Thirumavalavan handed over a cheque for two hundred thousand rupees to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Eelam Tamil Relief Fund, making the VCK the first political party to contribute to this fund.

He also requested Kalaignar Karunanidhi to ensure that the aid collected by the state was distributed to the Eelam Tamils by the Inetrnational Committee of the Red Cross and not through Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) officials.