Thamilchelvan says A9 should be open 24 hours, slams SLN

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 May 2002, 06:57 GMT]
"The Liberation Tigers want the A9 road to be open 24 hours, on all days of the week, to ensure the free flow of goods between Jaffna and the other parts of the island," Mr. S. P Thamilchelvan, the head of the LTTE's political division, told TamilNet Thursday.

"The Sri Lanka army can travel on the A9 now under the terms of the cease-fire agreement. We have told the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission we have no objection at all to the SLA traveling on the A9 in accordance with the terms of the agreement. But the Sri Lankan military has not availed itself of this provision of the agreement although 14 days have passed since the date from which they could have started traveling on the A9," Mr. Thamilchelvan said.

Mr. S. P Thamilchelvan at the headquarters of the Political Division of the Liberation Tigers in Kilinochchi. (Photo:TamilNet)
"The people of Jaffna need at least three hundred lorry loads of supplies a day. But this is impossible now because the Sri Lanka army opens the A9 at 8.30 in the morning and closes it at 5 in the evening. The entry points are closed on Sundays. The number of supply lorries to Jaffna that can ply on the A9 is further limited by the SLA's security procedures at Omanthai and Muhamalai. There is tremendous clogging at both the entry points as a consequence," Mr. Thamilchelvan said.

"The problem is further compounded by the fact that there are thousands of people, Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils, who are visiting Jaffna in their vehicles every day. The worst affected are the lorries carrying perishable goods. This is why we, the Liberation Tigers, insist that the road to Jaffna should be opened 24 hours, seven days a week, for the free flow of goods. We recognise that there are administrative difficulties in keeping the road open 24 hours for the free movement of civilians. Hence we suggest that it should remain open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on all days of the week," Mr. Thamilchelvan said.

"The people should begin to feel that there is real peace and normalcy for both sides to further the peace process," he added.

Passenger vans waiting for clearance in a section of the long queue at the SLA entry point at Omanthai. (Photo:TamilNet)

Referring to the Vaakarai incident last week in which the Sri Lanka Navy attacked and sunk a fishing trawler, killing two Muslim fishermen, he said: "The Navy's attitude has been very negative towards the peace process. The SLN seems intent on scuttling the United National Front's peace efforts. The consequences would have been dire if they had dared to attack any of our boats at sea. Our military has the right to engage in its normal duties in as much as the Sri Lankan security forces are entitled to do so under the terms of the cease-fire agreement. The SLN has no right to engage in offensive actions against us. The SLN was chiefly responsible for scuttling the peace process in 1987 and 1995."

According to Article 1.3 of the cease-fire agreement between Colombo and the Liberation Tigers, "The Sri Lankan armed forces shall continue to perform their legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in offensive operations against the LTTE.

The cease-fire agreement (Artcile 1.7) prohibits each side from moving of munitions, explosives or military equipment into the area controlled by the other party. But the agreement, does not prohibit either party moving military materiale within or between the areas under their respective control.

The A9 entry point on the LTTE side at Muhamalai in Jaffna. (Photo:TamilNet)


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