VoT reports UN official's visit

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar's accusations that the Liberation Tigers have built up a military force by conscripting very young children is absurd, senior LTTE officials told Mr. Olara Otunnu, UN Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict, last Thursday, according to the Voice of Tigers radio.

The LTTE denounced Kadirgamara's accusations as an attempt by the Sri Lankan Govt. to tarnish the LTTE, said the Voice of Tigers (VoT) today.

Mr. S.P. Thamilchelvan and Mr. Anton Balasingham of the LTTE had met Mr. Otunnu and had had discussions.

Ottunu had told the LTTE delegation that they are visiting various countries, including Sri Lanka, to obtain first hand information on difficulties faced by children in war and what measures should be taken to protect the children's' interest, said the VoT.

Mr. Otunnu had told the LTTE that the UN was deeply concerned about how children are being affected in various ways by the ongoing conflict, the radio said further.

He also assured them that the UN wished to start projects that protect children and to start rehabilitation projects, according to the VoT.

The LTTE told the Mr. Otunnu, that the Sri Lankan government was waging a war against the Tamil people in their own land and that the Tamil people, as a whole, were being subjected to great hardships and sufferings, said the radio.

The conflict has caused widespread destruction and Tamil children are severely affected by this war, the radio said.

The LTTE is fighting the Sri Lankan Government troops to win the rights of the Tamil people, on the basis of the right to self determination, the LTTE told Mr. Otunnu, according to the radio.

The LTTE had also told him how Sinhala forces had attacked and destroyed schools and how a large number of school children have been killed and injured.

They also told him children are severely traumatised due to aerial bombing and shelling. Children are undergoing extensive hardships when they have to flee areas of fighting, and even when they live in refugee camps, the radio quoted them as saying.

The Sri Lankan Government was responsible for all these hardships that the Tamil children are facing, they told UN official, according to the radio.

The LTTE delegation also pointed out that the Tigers had been effectively resisting an assault in the Vanni by nearly 30,000 Sri Lankan soldiers, for almost a year, inflicting heavy losses in men and material on the SLA.

If Mr. Kadigamar seriously believes that a child army can achieve this, then it shows his childish and silly views", the LTTE said, according to the radio.

The LTTE delegation also told Mr. Otunnu that the Liberation Tigers are currently looking after more than 1500 children affected by the war.

The LTTE officials also explained to him how successive Sinhala governments have oppressed the Tamil people, the radio said.

 

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