Amnesty condemns Thiruchelvam killing

[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 July 1999, 16:50 GMT]
The London based human rights organisation, Amnesty International, strongly condemned the assassination of Neelan Thiruchelvam today by a suicide bomber in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, and paid tribute to him as "a politician who contributed greatly to his country".

In a statement issued today, the London based human rights organisation said Thiruchelvam, a member of Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) part of Sri Lanka's ruling coalition, was killed on his way to work at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Seven people were wounded in the attack, including five policemen. Two of the wounded policemen belonged to his personal security unit.

The suicide bomber was riding the pinion with an accomplice in a Yamaha motorcycle according to eyewitnesses. They claimed that the accomplice was wounded by the blast but managed to escape on his motorcycle.

The Sri Lankan police blamed the Liberation Tigers for the attack.

"The nature of the attack suggests it could be linked with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in which case it constitutes a clear breach of international humanitarian standards," said Amnesty.

Thiruchelvam is said to have been a key architect of the Sri Lankan government's devolution package for limited powers to the Tamil areas.

Other Tamil parties in the ruling coalition have also distanced themselves from the package, saying it has been watered down too far to constitute any credible power sharing.

The Liberation Tigers, who were not consulted in the drafting of the package, have rejected it as a Sri Lankan government ploy to maintain international goodwill while prosecuting a war in the Tamil areas.

Progress on the devolution package, which requires a two-thirds majority vote in parliament, has been slow due to the withdrawal of support for it by the opposition United National Party (UNP) in October 1997.

Amnesty said the attack comes amidst speculation that a new constitution, which would include the devolution package, could be presented in parliament within the next two months.

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29.07.99   Attacker's accomplice still at large - Police
29.07.99   Mr. Thiruchelvam killed in bomb blast


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