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US Senator urges Sri Lanka to protect civilians

[AFP, Monday, 23 March 2009 17:25 One Comment]

A key US Senator warned Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday that his government’s failure to protect civilians in government safe zones was hurting the country’s global standing.


"While the Tamil Tigers have committed egregious acts, I am also alarmed by reports about actions taken by the government of Sri Lanka," Democrat John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote Rajapaksa.


Kerry said he had "grave concern" about reports that government forces had shelled civilians and hospitals in government-designated safe zones amid a fierce push to crush the rebel force, that humanitarian aid was not reaching civilians, and that the government had cracked down on journalists.


"This situation jeopardizes the international standing of Sri Lanka and its relations with friendly countries," the senator, his party’s 2004 White House candidate, said in a letter made public by his office.


"Let me once again emphasize the urgent need for the Sri Lankan government to take all necessary steps to protect civilians, allow humanitarian access to the displaced, and credibly investigate human rights violations by all members of government security forces," Kerry wrote Rajapaksa.


Last month the government in Colombo asked men, women and children to move to a stretch of coastline as troops advanced on rebel positions in the north in a bid to crush all remaining pockets of resistance by the Tamil Tigers.


Government forces have pushed Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels into a shrinking strip of land in the northeast and have said they hope to completely crush the guerrillas by April.


But tens of thousands of civilians are trapped behind the front line, according to relief agencies.

Kerry said that, as the military campaign ends, Rajapaksa would "have the opportunity to start down the path toward a durable and lasting peace through a political solution that acknowledges the legitimate aspirations of all Sri Lankans.

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One Comment »

  • S.V.Ramanan said:

    SriLanka may note that the onus of terrorism is slowly shifting to SriLankan Govt.It is justified.Constant refusal to save trapped civilians , harping on LTTE atrocities will become counter productive.Wake up before you become another failed state like Pakistan, allowing others to move in. Protect Tamils if you are sincere.Otherwise the consequences may go out of hand, as in Bosnia.