Relatives to visit Vanni POWs
[TamilNet, Monday, 21 February 2000, 09:57 GMT]
Twenty five relatives of the Sri Lankan servicemen held prisoner by the LTTE in Puthukudiyiruppu, Mullaithivu district, are to be escorted this afternoon to the Vanni, Harsha Gunawardene, the Information Officer for the ICRC in Colombo said today.
The condition of some of the prisoners, who have staged a hunger strike to protest the government's intransigence in securing their release, is said to have seriously deteriorated.
Gunawardene said the relatives of the POWs will begin their journey from Colombo in a specially arranged bus to Anuradhapura and will leave for Puthukudiyiruppu tomorrow morning.
They will be taking the land route through Piramanalankulam to Vanni. The convoy escorted by the ICRC will go to Puthukudiyiruppu through Mallavi, according to Gunawardene.
"The ICRC is engaged in a humanitarian exercise on the invitation by the LTTE to the relatives of the detainees, and with the permission given by the Ministry of Defence to take them to the Vanni" said Gunawardene.
He further said that only the immediate relatives of the detainees who are on a hunger strike are being taken to the Vanni.
Although earlier the LTTE had given permission to the relatives of the detainees, media, and politicians, the Ministry of Defence has only approved permission for the relatives of the captive servicemen who are on a hunger strike.
Fifteen POWs, 13 army and 2 naval personnel, held by the Liberation Tigers are on a hunger strike for the 11th day today, calling the government to take appropriate measures to secure their release.
19.02.00 Parents, relatives to visit POWs
18.02.00 Families of POWs allowed to visit
13.02.00 15 LTTE held POWs on hunger strike