Tamil Diaspora must act to prevent humanitarian tragedy - MP

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 27 August 2008, 09:39 GMT]
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Member of Parliament from Jaffna District, Selvarajah Gajendran, on Tuesday, urged the Tamil Diaspora to provide assistance to local aid agencies working among the IDPs in Vanni and to campaign in their host countries to exert pressure on the GoSL to remove restrictions on the transport of emergency supplies to Vanni and urge the International Community to support the Tamil people's right to live in peace in their homeland. The Sri Lankan government has ordered Government Agents to operate from Vavuniyaa and has actively discouraged even UN agencies from entering Vanni, the MP said.

Translated extracts from Mr. Gajendran's statement issued in Tamil, follow:

Selvarajah Gajendran
TNA Jaffna MP Mr. Selvarajah Kajendren
"The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is engaged in a campaign of intimidation and terror against the Tamil speaking people of this island, in a bid to quash aspirations for self governance. During the past two years, thousands of people were uprooted from their homes in the eastern part of the island, as the Sri Lankan military fought to wrest control of the region from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). While the people of the east are still in temporary shelters, the state's military machine has begun rolling into the Vanni mainland. More than 200,000 people have been displaced from their homes during the past few months.

"The Vanni is under a virtual siege, while nobody seems able or willing to prevent an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. The Tamil Diaspora must act to ensure that a humanitarian tragedy is prevented.

"The Vanni mainland, once renowned as the agricultural heartland of the island, is now under the siege of the Sri Lankan military. Of the half a million people who call the Vanni their home, 200,000 have been displaced from their homes during recent months. The likes of Mannar "rice bowl" have been turned into husks of destitution by the constant air raids, rocket attacks and artillery barrages of the Sri Lankan military. GoSL is paying scant regard to the lives and livelihoods of the people of Vanni, as it tries to generate banner headlines of hundreds of square kilometres captured from the 'enemy'.

"Currently, the displaced people are housed in schools, temples, churches, make-shift tents and under trees. The GoSL has imposed a ban on transporting building materials to the Vanni; making it impossible for aid agencies to erect semi-permanent shelters for the displaced. Children, elderly, disabled and pregnant women are suffering the most.

"Displaced children have left much of their books back at their homes, which are now under the constant barrages of the Sri Lankan military. Schools in areas that are not threatened by bomb attacks are functioning as camps for the displaced. None of the children in Vanni can attend school due to these circumstances. GoSL's ban on a range of equipment, including teaching material, from being transported into the Vanni is further hampering the children's education. Some older students are taking the effort to learn under the shades of trees. Unfortunately, the international organisations that so keenly charged the LTTE on allegations of child recruitment are nowhere to be seen taking any interest in the plight of the displaced children.

"Recently, Sri Lankan planes have dropped leaflets urging the half a million people who live in areas administered by the LTTE to flee to areas occupied by the Sri Lankan military. Many are wary, given the fate of the people in the Eastern province who are still languishing in temporary shelters. Furthermore, the people of Vanni, like all others of this world, want their fundamental rights to life, land and livelihood. The GoSL is also engaged in a parallel propaganda war, claiming that the people are being prevented from leaving their homes by the LTTE. This is no different to the various propaganda stunts of the GoSL in the past, where it simultaneously claimed to be acting for the people, while bombing their homes and robbing the people of their livelihoods.

"The Diaspora should continue to provide generous donations to the local aid agencies providing vital relief; campaign for the GoSL to remove all restrictions on the transport of emergency supplies to the Vanni; and urge the international community to support the Tamil people's right to live at peace in their own homes."


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