Civilians being used as human shield -LTTE
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 05 April 2000, 08:49 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers said in a press release today that the Sri Lanka Army was holding thousands of civilians as human shields in the northern battle zones. The LTTE said that the ICRC and the UNHCR delegations in Jaffna were failing in their duty protect civilians.
Following is the full text of the statement:
"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) denounces the inhuman and cowardly tactics employed by the Sri Lankan army of holding thousands of Tamil civilian refugees as human shields in the battle zones of the southern sector of the Jaffna peninsula.
"Nearly five thousand Tamil civilians are trapped in the militarily occupied zones and have been prevented by the Sri Lankan army from moving to areas of safety and security. More than a thousand refugees who fled from areas of conflict in Pallai and Pachilaippali have been blocked at Kilali since Sunday and forced to live in a school and in a church closer to the army's defence positions. In order to move the civilian population to safer areas, the LTTE suspended operations for several hours last Sunday and indicated a safe passage through Killali. The army blocked and turned away the mass exodus while holding a section of the displaced as a civilian protective shield in the vicinity of the concentration of troops.
"The LTTE also wishes to register strong condemnation for indiscriminate aerial bombardment, naval shelling and artillery barrages in the civilian settlements of southern Jaffna by the Sri Lankan airforce, navy and the army which have caused death and injuries to innocent civilians. By such callous and irresponsible acts the Sri Lankan military establishment has violated the fundamental norms of the Geneva Conventions concerning the safety of civilians.
"We regret to note that the ICRC and the UNHCR delegations who operate in the Jaffna Peninsula with the mandate to protect and promote the interests of civilians and refugees from ravages of war have failed to secure the safety of the civilian refugees whose lives are danger in the forced captivity of the army. Furthermore these organisations are reluctant to bring this matter to the notice of the international community."