US Tamils Demand Sanctions Against Sri Lanka

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TAMILNET reports that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil eelam (LTTE) clashed last Thursday at around 2.00 am for nearly half an hour.

Kodikaamam police said it recovered on Thursday a body of a male, who was caught in a landmine explosion in the no-man zone between SLA and LTTE Forward Defence Line (FDL) positions.

The SLA claimed that the youth killed is a combatant of the LTTE unit which tried to penetrate into the SLA held area early on Thursday morning.

The body of the youth, who appears to be more than twenty years old, had both legs blown off and bullet wounds all over his body, police said.

Kodikaamam police handed over the body to Jaffna Teaching Hospital mortuary on a directive issued by the Chaavakachcheari magistrate to have it identified within the coming five days.

The SLA did not provide details of its own casualties.

Meanwhile, over one thousand American Tamils, Canadian Tamils and friends of Tamils, protested on Wednesday in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York to draw the attention of the United Nations to the situation in Sri Lanka, and demanding sanctions against Sri Lanka.

The protest advocated the invoking of the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a means to halt what the protesters alleged to be the ‘genocide of Tamils.’

The protesters also denounced the visit to the UN by the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

About 20 Sri Lankan Government supporters, including Buddhist monks, showed up briefly for a counter protest.

Weeks before his visit to the UN the Rajapaksa government expelled all Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) including the UN from the areas of conflict.

Food and medicine to the trapped Tamil population was blocked while the Government armed forces emboldened by Iranian and Chinese funding were engaged in indiscriminate aerial bombings and artillery shelling of heavily populated Tamil enclaves, killing innocent civilians and displacing over 200,000.

The protesters chanted ‘Rajapaksa, don’t come to the UN, go to The Hague.’

Speaking at the rally, Dr. Ellyn Shander, a US physician who volunteered in Sri Lanka after the Asian Tsunami, drew parallels to the Nazi holocaust with the plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and accused the Sri Lankan government of committing genocide against Tamils.

Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, a New York attorney, who participated as legal advisor to the Tamil delegation during the peace talks that followed the 2002 Norwegian brokered Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL), faulted the United Nations for acquiescing to the Lankan demand and withdrawing UN aid agencies from Tamil areas.

He denounced the failure of the UN for not taking steps to protect the civilian enclaves like it had done at other conflict areas of the world.

Ms Usha Sriskandarajah from Toronto spoke as a mother on the travails of the women and children living under trees without food and medicine and under constant barrages of artillery shelling and pleaded with the international community to take protective measures without delay.

A petition signed by the rally attendees addressed to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was handed over at the UN.

The appeal stated that the Government of Sri Lanka has abdicated its responsibility to the Tamil inhabitants of the island.

It demanded that the international community embodied in the UN must begin to enact its ideals for the unilateral protection of the vulnerable Tamil people.

The petition proposed possible actions by the UN such as sending an independent monitor from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, setting up internationally supervised safe havens for civilians in active conflict zones, a total ban on military aid to Sri Lanka, prosecution of the individuals in the Sri Lankan government and its armed forces for ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide on the island, and arranging for a special session of the United Nations on Sri Lanka.

The Assistant US Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher issued a statement on Sri Lanka on Thursday.

It said: ‘We had a meeting of the Sri Lanka Co-Chairs today. That’s the United States, Norway, the European Union, and Japan. We meet regularly on the subject of Sri Lanka, and we had a meeting today in New York because, for many of us, it was convenient to be here and others, like our Japanese colleagues, were willing to fly in.

‘We had a very thorough discussion for about two hours of the whole situation and outlook in Sri Lanka. I think it’s characterised, first and foremost, by a notable convergence of views, both on the short-term needs and the long-term. But we wanted to say that one of the areas that all of us emphasised were the immediate humanitarian concerns, and that involves several issues.

‘The fighting has been expanding, heading towards the north. We’re placing a lot of emphasis right now on the protection of human rights for civilians who are caught in the fighting, and the democratic government’s responsibility for extending – for respecting and extending human rights protection to the people in the areas that they take over.

‘The second is humanitarian access for – to care for the needs of those who are displaced and affected by the fighting, where both sides need to make sure that they’re not catching civilians in the crossfire, that they’re letting people go to places where they can be safe, and that humanitarian deliveries can take place for these populations that are affected by the fighting.

‘And the third is sort of a corollary to that, and that’s our very strong support for United Nations organisations and humanitarian actors who are trying to take care of the displaced people and people affected by the fighting, working in government areas, working with the government. But we think they themselves play a very important role.

‘We’re all having meetings in New York with representatives of the Sri Lankan Government.

‘Some of the parties are in touch with the Tamil Tigers during the course of their activities, and we are making these points – each of us, I think – to the parties that we speak to, and particularly this week in New York, to the representatives of the Sri Lankan Government who are here. And our ambassadors, envoys in Colombo, are making them as well.

‘So we wanted to get out on the record from the Co-Chairs that we did have a meeting, but also to emphasise the humanitarian concerns at this particular moment.’