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Sri Lanka: No Let-Up in Army Shelling of Civilians March 25th, 2009
Tamil Tigers Unwilling to Release Their Hold on 150,000 People
The Sri Lankan army, despite government denials, is indiscriminately shelling the “no-fire zone” in northern Sri Lanka where thousands of civilians are trapped by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, citing new information from the region. More than 2,700 civilians have reportedly been killed over the last two months, and the number of casualties rises daily.
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US Expresses Deep Concern about Humanitarian Situation in Sri Lanka March 14th, 2009
The US State Department issued a statement on March 13 expressing “deep concern over the deteriorating conditions and increasing loss of life occurring in the Government of Sri Lanka‐designated “safe zone” in northern Sri Lanka.” In a call to President Rajapaksa, Secretary Clinton “stated that the Sri Lankan Army should not fire into the civilian areas of the conflict zone. The Secretary offered immediate and post‐conflict reconstruction assistance and she extended condolences to the victims of the March 10 bombing outside a mosque in southern Sri Lanka. She condemned the actions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who are reported to be holding civilians as human shields, and to have shot at civilians leaving LTTE areas of control.”
Secretary Clinton called on President Rajapaksa to devise a political solution to the ongoing conflict. She further urged the President to give international humanitarian relief organizations full access to the conflict area and displaced persons camps, including screening centers.”
According to the Statement, “The United States believes that a durable and lasting peace will only be achieved through a political solution that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all of Sri Lanka’s communities.” The US calls on the Sri Lankan Government “to put forward a proposal now to engage Tamils who do not espouse violence or terrorism, and to develop power sharing arrangements so that lasting peace and reconciliation can be achieved.”
US Representatives Press the State Department to do more in Sri Lanka to Protect Civilians March 12th, 2009
Thirty-eight members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Clinton calling for active leadership to protect civilians in the conflict and to press the GOSL to allow aid workers and journalists into the conflict area to minister to their needs. A similar letter was sent to Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations.
Senator Casey Expresses Alarm Over Humanitarian Crisis in Sri Lanka March 11th, 2009
In a letter organized by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), seven U.S. Senators wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on March 11 with their acute concerns over the escalating humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka. As many as 330,000 civilians remain trapped in an area of intense combat between Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“The situation in Sri Lanka is unacceptable and must be remedied as quickly as possible,” the Senators wrote.
The Senators went on to write, “An enduring peace can be achieved only through a political solution that treats the Tamil minority as equal citizens under the law. Without such an agreement, the violence will only continue.”
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Senator Leahy Calls for Both Sides in the Sri Lanka Conflict to Respect the Rights of Civilians February 12th, 2009
Senator Leahy has issued an important statement to the government and the LTTE in the on-going civil war in Sri Lanka. Detailing the actions of both sides that are causing untold suffering to the people, Senator Leahy calls for an immediate cease-fire, and the need for the government to address, “in negotiations which include all the main Tamil and Muslim parties, the core issues that have fueled the conflict including laws and policies that unfairly discriminate against Sri Lanka’s minorities.”