TULF MP Briefs US Decision Makers
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 July 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Mr. Joseph Pararajasingam, the MP for Batticaloa district and the Parliamentary Group Leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), is currently in the United States on a three week visit to brief US officials on developments on the island. His visit is being sponsored by a US-based NGO.
Last Thursday, Mr. Pararajasingam met officials from the U.S Committee
for Refugees (USCR) at their offices in Washington. The USCR policy
analyst, Mr. Hiram. A. Ruiz and research assistant Ms. Katie Hope are
closely monitoring the Tamil refugee situation on the island, having
visited the Vanni in November 1996.
Mr. Pararajasingam is said to have briefed them on the worsening state of
Tamil refugees in the North-East of the island, describing the hardships
being endured by 200,000 Tamil civilians displaced as a result of the Sri
Lankan military's recent offensive, Operation 'Jaya Sikuru' and similar
The deplorable condition of thousands of Tamil families who have been
forced to take refuge in the Mullaitivu jungles and in over crowded
refugee camps was also said to have been brought to the attention of the
Mr. Pararajasingam pointed out that the Sri Lankan Government has failed
to provide adequate food and medicine to the displaced people and
stressed that there is acute shortage of essential supplies in the areas
of the Tamil homelands which are not under Sinhalese occupation. The
government's reluctance to facilitate the delivery of these necessities
to the desperate Tamil population was also raised in the talks.
On Friday, Mr. Pararajasingam met with Mr. Steve Mann, the Director of
Sri Lanka affairs at the Department of State in Washington D.C at their C
street offices. During these talks Mr. Pararajasingam provided details
and supporting statistics on the casualties inflicted on the Tamil people
of the North and East and the destruction of Tamil property in the
Mr. Pararajasingam made an earnest request to the State Department to
suspend the military training given to the Sri Lankan military by the
'Green Berets', and to immediately halt the sale of lethal weapons to the
Sri Lankan military, so as to facilitate an early end to the war.
He emphasized the urgent need to bring the war to an end, stating that
the Sri Lankan government's much vaunted two pronged strategy of waging
war on one front and claiming to seek a political solution on the other
had clearly failed, as it had not only resulted in an intensification of
the war but had also severely reduced the likelihood of finding a
Mr. Pararajasingam is said to have stressed the importance of LTTE's
participation in any resolution to the conflict and made it clear that
any discussions that exclude the LTTE could not be expected to result in
a lasting and meaningful solution to the conflict.
Mr. Pararajasingam also had lengthy discussions with the Assistant
Secretary of Human Rights Affairs at the State Department, Mr. Stephen
Coffey, regarding the escalation in human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan
security forces, as well as the routine harassment suffered by ordinary
Tamil people in military occupied areas.
Mr. Pararajasingam is well known among the Tamil expatriate community and
international human rights organizations for his relentless efforts to
document and publicize human rights abuses in the areas of North and East
which are controlled by the Sri Lankan security forces.
He provided details of the disappearances of Tamils in custody of the
armed forces and on the recent surge in the number of rapes of Tamil
females in army occupied areas. In particular, he submitted detailed
statistics on the human rights abuses of the security forces within his
own constituency, the Batticaloa district.
Mr. Pararajasingam has also held meetings with Senator Paul Wellstone,
Congresswoman Sue Kelly, Senator Kerry and Mr. Steve Rickart of Amnesty
International. A clear picture of the deplorable condition of the Tamil
refugees, the deteriorating human rights situation and the futility of
the government's prosecution of the war were described to these policy
makers. The importance of the LTTE's participation in deriving any
viable solution was also stressed in these talks.
Mr. Pararajasingam is currently in New York and is said to have a busy
schedule planned, meeting other US policy makers as well as UN officials.
TamilNet will continue to provide coverage during Mr. Pararajasingam's stay in the US.