|The kind of Liberation offered by the Tigers of Tamil Eelam|
|Friday, 16 January 2009|
While LTTE propaganda constantly drones on about the supposed repression of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government, the world occasionally catches a glimpse of reality. And it is very different. The fact is that the Sri Lankan government is working hard to provide the basic needs of all its citizens, particularly those affected by the fighting in the Vanni, and the LTTE is doing everything possible to deprive them of their basic rights.
The Government has long been calling for the LTTE to allow civilians to move to the safety of territory held by the Sri Lankan Army. Efforts have been made to set up welfare centres to make sure that they will be able to live comfortably until they can return to their homes. The displaced will be given meals, dry rations, cooking utensils, drinking water, infant food, clothes and other essential items. The Sri Lankan Army has built good quality shelters from locally appropriate materials, and the necessary sanitation and other facilities have already been set up, along with electricity, healthcare services and plans for schooling. Vavuniya is serving as a hub for IDPs, but similar arrangements are also in place in the Jaffna and Mannar districts, and attention will be given to Kilinochchi too once demining work is completed.
In the East, thousands of people moved away from the disputed areas while military operations were going on, but the vast majority of IDPs returned to their homes within a few months. Civilians largely escaped the fighting, and there was only one incident in which deaths and injuries were reported. The United Nations confirmed that the process was effectively handled. If the LTTE allowed a similar thing to happen in the North, there would be absolutely no danger of civilians getting hurt in their engagements with the Sri Lankan Army.
It isn’t only a question of morality. The LTTE is breaking international law by using civilians as a human shield. While NGOs and other international agencies were slow to criticise the LTTE for this, just as they were over the use of child soldiers and the practice of forced recruitment, they began to speak out when the LTTE refused to allow their workers to move out of the Vanni. Human Rights Watch published a report last month that was severely critical of the LTTE for this policy of holding civilians, which it described as a war crime.
Recognising the seriousness of the issue, the Government banned the LTTE after it ignored an ultimatum to release civilians from the Vanni. While other countries have maintained a ban on the LTTE for years, Sri Lanka deproscribed the organisation after the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in 2002, and the Government didn't reinstate the ban even after it became clear that the LTTE wasn't adhering to the pact. This was a symbol of the willingness on the part of the Government to pursue negotiations and find a solution to the conflict by peaceful means, but such a gesture is clearly inappropriate when the LTTE is inflicting so much suffering on civilians.
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )|
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