Tamil Tigers Call For Immediate Ceasefire And Negotiations

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Marchers on the 125,000-strong demonstration in London on January 31 demanding an end to the Sri Lankan army attacks on Tamil civilians
Marchers on the 125,000-strong demonstration in London on January 31 demanding an end to the Sri Lankan army attacks on Tamil civilians

THE Political Division of the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) issued a political statement yesterday.

‘The Tamil homeland is witnessing one of the worst human tragedies of the 21st century,’ said the Political Division of the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) in a statement issued in Tamil on Wednesday.

‘More than one thousand civilians have been killed and four thousand are struggling to recover from the injuries amid continuous artillery barrage, air attacks and cluster bombing by the Sinhala state,’ the LTTE statement said.

The LTTE statement categorically denied the Sri Lankan claim that a Tiger human bomb had recently attacked civilians.

‘We are a liberation movement.

‘Our fighters and the people are engaged in the struggle with total dedication and sacrifice.

‘We categorically deny the charges that we carried out the uncivilised act,’ the statement said adding that it was the Sri Lankan government that has used internationally banned cluster bombs to attack civilians.

‘Several hundreds of civilians have been killed and maimed by the Sri Lankan bombardments,’ it said.

The Tiger statement urged the International Community to be aware of the false propaganda of the Sri Lankan state.

‘The Sri Lankan military, after demarcating an area with pockets of land as a safe zone and creating an illusion of security in the minds of people, let loose a relentless campaign of bombardment on them.

‘The resulting carnage was witnessed by the UN and ICRC representatives,’ the statement said.

‘The Sinhala state has blocked access to media; communication links with outside world are cut off; International Non Governmental Organisations were ordered leave by Colombo.

‘International human rights monitors are not allowed to visit our territory; medical supplies are banned; many civilians die every day; even the ICRC representatives are forced to leave the area by the Sri Lankan state.

‘People wander from place to place seeking refuge and are forced to lead a life worse than animals in the marsh and jungles of Vanni,’ the statement added.

‘All the countries of the world that condemn the ongoing humanitarian tragedy, should also come forward to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan state to immediately agree on a ceasefire and engage in negotiations to resolve the conflict, said the statement of the political division of the LTTE.’

Meanwhile on Monday, Putumattalan was hit by shelling that killed at least 16 patients.

‘We are shocked that patients are not afforded the protection they are entitled to,’ said Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombo, in a press statement issued Tuesday.

‘Most of the population is now displaced and completely dependent on outside aid, yet none has reached the area since 29 January,’ the ICRC said, adding that it remained extremely concerned about the plight of the civilians in Vanni.

‘It is imperative that both parties immediately allow food and other urgently needed items to reach those who are trapped.’

The ICRC ststement says: ‘A ferry flying the flag of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is currently evacuating over 240 patients from Putumattalan to Trincomalee.

‘They had fled Puthukkudiyiruppu Hospital in the northern Vanni region on 4 February after it sustained repeated shelling.

‘The patients are expected to arrive in Trincomalee this evening and receive medical treatment.

‘The operation started after both parties had granted safe passage. Civil authorities, medical staff, the fishermen’s union and church representatives are also actively supporting the evacuation. An additional 160 patients still in Putumattalan should be evacuated on 11 February.

‘On Monday, Putumattalan was hit by shelling that killed at least 16 patients. We are shocked that patients are not afforded the protection they are entitled to.

‘Once more, we call on both parties to meet their obligation under international humanitarian law to spare at all times the wounded and sick people, medical personnel and medical facilities at all times.

‘The ICRC is currently negotiating with both parties to continue evacuating the sick and wounded from the Vanni.

‘Medical facilities are no longer functioning. “There are a few makeshift medical points, but these cannot cope with the increasing influx of patients,” said Mr Castella. “Urgent medical evacuations must continue to take place regularly.”

‘The ICRC remains extremely concerned about the plight of civilians still trapped in the Vanni, an area that has been hard hit by intense fighting in recent days.

‘Most of the population is now displaced and completely dependent on outside aid, yet none has reached the area since 29 January.

‘It is imperative that both parties immediately allow food and other urgently needed items to reach those who are trapped.’

Meawhile Sinhala chauvinists are demonstrating because of the huge impact international demonstrations of the Tamil peoplehave had on the UK and the US.

In Colombo Tuesday when Patriotic National Movement (PNM), an outfit of the Rajapaksa circle, staged a demonstration against ICRC, USA and Britain, even for their minimal engagement and token gestures to the sufferings of Tamils.

Journalistic circles in Colombo commented. ‘It is but only a taste of what to follow for those who envisage a political solution of lasting peace within the state system of Sri Lanka,’ said a senior journalist.

Gunathasa Amarasekara, the president of the the Patriotic National Movement (PNM) while addressing the protestors who gathered in front of the British High Commission between 10am and 11am on Tuesday, accused America and Britain for sabotaging the ‘victory’ of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The demonstrators carried placards thanking India, China and Russia for their support to the war.

The protestors also shouted slogans against the ICRC and demanded the agency to leave Sri Lanka, accusing it for ‘helping the Tigers.’

Norway, which usually faces the brunt of such demonstrations, seemed to have escaped this time.

The PNM is an alliance of extreme Sinhala nationalists formed and backed by Wimal Weerawansa, who now heads a dissident group of the JVP, which is a tactical ally of the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Such demonstration-tactics have been played ever since 1956, at every time political solutions were mooted.

The same tactics are over-sensitively staged today by the deliberations of Sri Lankan government agencies and diplomats in the international arena on one hand, and by demonstrations of orchestrated mobs in Colombo against international opinion on the other hand.