Occupation of schools and temples violates cease-fire agreement -TNA

[TamilNet, Thursday, 18 April 2002, 22:37 GMT]
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Thursday brought to the notice of the Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Vidar Helgessen, that the Sri Lanka Army has not vacated temples and schools they occupy in the eastern province and has not completely removed ban on transport of items allowed to LTTE held areas in the eastern province as stipulated in the cease-fire agreement signed between the United National Front Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on February 23.

The Norwegian peace team flew to Batticaloa Thursday morning to assess the ground situation in the eastern province after the ceasefire agreement came into force. Later in the afternoon, Mr. Vidar Helgessen accompanied by his special advisor Mr. Erik Solheim and Oslo's Colombo envoy Mr. Jon Westborg attended a conference held at Batticaloa District Secretariat presided by the Government Agent Mr.C.Shanmugam.

"According to the cease-fire agreement, the SLA should have removed all its camps and sentry points established in temples and schools, within 30 days of signing the agreement. With regret we bring to your notice that in the eastern province the SLA has not taken steps to implement this part of the MoU till now," Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, Batticaloa district TNA parliamentarian told Mr. Vidar Helgessen at the conference.

Mr.Parajasingham pointed out at the conference that people are still not allowed to transport several items including building materials to areas held by LTTE inspite of the gazette notification removing such restriction. Several checkpoints are still functioning on Batticaloa-Colombo highway.

TNA parliamentarians Messrs G.Krishnapillai, K.Thangavadivel, A.Chandra Nehru and National Unity Alliance parliamentarian Mr.M.L.A.M.Hisbullah and representatives of citizen committee also attended the conference.

The Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Mr.Helgessen promised TNA parliamentarians that he would take up the matter with the Colombo government. He also requested TNA parliamentarians to also discuss these matters directly with Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, according to TNA sources.

Meanwhile, the leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Minister, Mr.Rauff Hakeem, met the Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister at the Batticaloa district secretariat Thursday afternoon and explained him in detail the discussion he had with the LTTE leader Mr.Pirapaharan at Killinochchi on April 13.

Mr.Hakeem further briefed the Norwegian deputy minister the steps taken to strengthen the goodwill between Tamils and Muslims after signing the Memorandum of Understanding between the SLMC and the LTTE.

 

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