[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Tamil struggle for survival
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue Apr 21 22:39:55 BST 2009
Tamil demonstrators block streets
Tamils have been staging protests in London over the last two weeks
Tamils staging an ongoing protest in central London have blocked roads
around Parliament Square as they demand a ceasefire in Sri Lanka.
The Metropolitan Police said about 3,500 people had gathered at
Parliament as MPs returned after Easter.
The demonstrators began rallying two weeks ago over the conflict between
the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers separatist group.
Protesters want the UK to end the war in Sri Lanka - a former British
The numbers at the protest swelled from hundreds to thousands overnight
on Sunday after news broke that at least 25,000 civilians had fled
fighting in a Tamil Tiger-held area in the north of the country.
Suren Surendiran, of the British Tamils Forum, said those at the
demonstration "did not want words any more" and he called on the UK
government to take the issue to the UN Security Council in order to
implement a ceasefire.
The prime minister is deeply concerned by the current conflict and there
should be an immediate ceasefire
Gordon Brown's spokesman
"This is a peaceful demonstration. This is about brothers and fathers
and sisters being killed. I know people who have lost 15 members of
their family," he said.
"These are people exercising their democratic right when people across
the world are having their human rights trampled on."
Among the protesters in Parliament Square is Prarameswaran Subramaniam,
28, who has lost several family members in the conflict and has gone on
A second man, Sivatharsan Sivakumaraval, 21, agreed to call off a fast
Lying on a bed in a makeshift tent, Mr Subramaniam said he was on his
13th day without food.
"This is something I chose to do. I want to do whatever I can to
highlight the plight of the Tamil people who have been discriminated
against for the past 60 years," he said.
Mr Subramaniam pledged not to eat again until a ceasefire was agreed.
The Sri Lankan government has rejected calls for such a ceasefire,
arguing it would give the Tamil Tigers - a proscribed terrorist group in
many countries, including the UK - time to regroup.
The Tigers - or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - are fighting for a
separatist state in the north and east of the island.
On Sunday, Gordon Brown sent a special envoy to the United Nations in
New York for "urgent" talks on Sri Lanka.
Des Browne will work to try to secure a ceasefire between government
forces and Tamil Tiger rebels fighting in the north of Sri Lanka.
Some 100,000 civilians remained trapped in the area and Mr Brown's
spokesman said the prime minister wanted them to be allowed to leave.
"The prime minister is deeply concerned by the current conflict and
there should be an immediate ceasefire," he added.
Thousands flee from Sri Lankan war zone
April 20, 2009 Edition 2
More than 2 800 civilians had fled Sri Lanka's northern war zone, where
they were cornered with the remaining Tamil Tiger insurgents, the
military said yesterday.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the civilians
reported to the army after crossing the front-line on Saturday.
The UN estimates that more than 100 000 civilians are trapped in the
area, earlier designated a "no-fire zone" for civilian protection, which
measures only 20km2.
The government suspended its offensive last week for two days to allow
civilians to leave, but only a few hundred departed.
Authorities have since rejected widespread international calls for a
longer cease-fire to allow humanitarian workers to move the civilians to
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the insurgents must allow the civilians
to move freely.
"If the (rebels) give such freedom … no one could prevent them coming of
their own free will to the government-controlled areas," he said.
The UN estimates that about 4 500 noncombatants have been killed in the
past three months amid fierce fighting as government forces have closed
in on the rebels, aiming to bring an end to the 25-year civil war.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Saturday he was
"gravely concerned" at the continuing threat to the civilians.
"The British government maintains its call for an immediate ceasefire in
Sri Lanka and for civilians to be allowed to leave the conflict area,"
Human rights groups have accused the rebels of using the civilians as
human shields and the government of indiscriminately shelling populated
areas and disregarding the civilians' safety.
Both sides deny the allegations. The rebels have been fighting to create
an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have claimed
marginalisation by successive governments. More than 70 000 people have
been killed in the violence. - Sapa-AP
Civilians trapped as Sri Lanka attacks Tigers
April 16, 2009 Edition 1
Sri Lankan forces attacked Tamil guerrillas with mortar fire, artillery
and heavy machine guns yesterday following a two-day ceasefire aimed at
letting civilians flee the war zone, a pro-rebel website reported.
The government denied launching a new attack.
The reported fighting could mark the start of a planned final assault
aimed at destroying the Tamil Tigers and ending the 25-year-old civil war.
However, tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the war zone
and diplomats and human rights groups have called on both sides to
The government had announced a unilateral ceasefire on Monday and
Tuesday and asked civilians trapped inside the war zone to move out, but
only a few hundred left.
The government says the rebels are preventing the civilians from
escaping, while the rebels say the civilians don't want to leave.
The TamilNet website said the government launched a large-scale attack
for three hours yesterday near a "no-fire zone" intended as a refuge for
Families huddled in bunkers for safety, but as many as 180 civilians
were killed in the fighting, the website said.
The top government health official in the war zone, Thurairaja
Varatharajah, said only six bodies and 68 civilians suffering bullet
wounds had been brought to the makeshift hospital that he runs from a
school since Tuesday night.
He said the sound of gunfire resumed during the night after the
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said government soldiers
had not launched any new offensives and were only observing the rebels'
"We cannot just go there because of the heavy civilian presence," he said.
Confirmation of the fighting was not possible because the government
bars journalists and aid workers from the war zone.
The rebels said on Tuesday that the ceasefire, declared by President
Mahinda Rajapaksa to mark the Sri Lankan New Year, was an "act of
hoodwinking" and that only an internationally supervised truce would be
Despite international appeals, the government said it had no intention
of extending the ceasefire.
The UN says more than 100 000 people are trapped along with the cornered
guerrillas in the gover ment- declared "no-fire" zone measuring just 20km2.
A series of battlefield victories in the past six months have pushed the
Tamil Tigers - who once ran a de facto state in the north and east of
the Indian Ocean island nation - into a small strip of land in the north.
The government has rejected several calls for a permanent ceasefire,
saying the military will finish off the insurgency soon.
Varatharajah said cases of malnutrition among children in the conflict
area were rapidly increasing.
With little food for themselves, new mothers were not producing enough
breast milk to feed their babies, and other infants were suffering when
their lactating mothers were killed or badly injured.
The area only had enough infant formula to feed 25 percent of the
affected children, he said, appealing for urgent supplies of formula to
be sent to the region. - Sapa-AP
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