SLA disarms TELO "in revenge"

[TamilNet, Thursday, 19 October 2000, 13:29 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army troops Thursday raided the camps of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) in Mannar town and Vavuniya around 4 p.m. and seized more than 90 assault rifles from them. Prasanna, a TELO leader in Colombo, told TamilNet that the government is taking revenge on his organisation "for refusing to compromise the national interests of the Tamil people".

Three members of the TELO were elected to Parliament in last week's elections. In a hard hitting speech in the first session of the Parliament Wednesday, Mr. Selvam Adaikalanathan MP, the leader of the organisation, warned the government "Do not think that the Tamil people are asleep. They are still awake. One day they will rise in anger. And then you will be reduced to ashes".

adaikkalanathan.jpgHe urged the government to stop the war before that and find peace by starting talks with the Liberation Tigers with third party mediation.

The TELO refused to join efforts last week by the PA to cobble together a coalition government with Tamil and Muslim parties. However, the group announced from Mannar that it would consider supporting the United National Party to form the government if it agreed to declare a cease-fire, lift all sanctions on the Vanni, scrap the draconian pass system in Vavuniya and begin negotiations with the Liberation Tigers forthwith.

Prasanna said that the government is trying to pressure the TELO into compromising its political stand by ordering the SLA to seize the weapons from the organisation's camps. He said that the army has asked his organisation to turn in all the weapons in its Batticaloa camp tomorrow.

The TELO is an ex-Tamil militant group that has been operating with the Sri Lanka army for more than ten years. Since 1998, the group has been advocating third party negotiations with the Liberation Tigers as the only way to settle the ethnic conflict; and since last year its sole MP in the tenth Parliament, Mr.Adaikalanathan, has consistently opposed the Emergency.

Some senior leaders of the organisation have recently been taking the position that the armed struggle of the Liberation Tigers is for a just cause.

The group has therefore been viewed with suspicion by the Sri Lanka army and government politicians.


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