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Thursday, February 12, 2009 - 4.17 GMT
"See LTTE for cold blooded murderers they are" - Human Rights Minister


"It was time the Tamil Diaspora saw the LTTE for what it is - a bunch of cold blooded murderers who would kill their own Tamil people to satisfy its lust for power on dominance" said Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe at a Media Briefing to Foreign Journalists on Tuesday (February 10).

He referred to the two attacks on Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka’s North carried out by the LTTE on Monday and yesterday. On Monday (09), a women suicide bomber of LTTE had carried out an explosion at a refugee registration centre killing 10 civilians and 20 soldiers and injuring more than 30. Among the victims were women and children.

Yesterday, the LTTE attacked civilians fleeing its diminishing area with small arms and other shell fire killing 19 civilians and injuring 75 others. Among those killed in this incident were 6 women and 2 children; the injured included 27 women and 11 children.

Despite the attack by the LTTE from 6 - 7 am at more than 1000 civilians who were freeing LTTE captivity to safe areas held by the security forces, 970 men, women and children crossed to the safety of the government control area.

Minister Samarasinghe told the international media that the LTTE deliberately targeted innocent Tamil civilian to trigger a fear psychosis among those trapped in the small area of the northern Mullaitivu District they yet hold. “We are gratified to note that the despite the two dastardly attacks, the flow of civilians into government controlled areas, he said.

The Minister reiterated the assurance given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to all citizens of Sri Lanka on Independence Day that they would be looked after, enjoying the same rights as all others in the rest of the country, and calling on the LTTE to lay down arms and allow civilians to come to areas of safety. Minister said that as of last morning 32,000 civilians who were trapped in the LTTE areas had crossed over to safe areas of the government of these 24,000 were accommodated in temporary shelters at Vavuniya, Kilinochchi and Jaffna and 8,000 others were being screened by the Military to be handed over to the Government Agents.

The screening process would have to be strengthened after this suicide attack, he said, and more such savage attacks had to be expected knowing the mindset of the LTTE.

Answering questions on how long the resettlement of the Tamil civilians would take place, Secretary to the President, Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, said all steps are being taken to resettle them with necessary facilities for a safe and good livelihood and for the training of the people in new skills to help in future employment. Until final resettlement, they would be accommodated in places similar to traditional villages and not harsh "Holding Camps" as many reports had suggested. The government was conscious of the need to provide the new settlements with water, housing, electricity, schools, police stations and all necessary facilities as had been done in the Eastern Province.

Mr. Weeratunga added that it was the intention of the Government to restore Democracy in the North as early as possible, beginning with Local Government elections and moving to Provincial Council Elections, to facilitate a good and continuous dialogue with genuine representatives of the Tamil People.

Minister Samarasinghe emphasized that the resettlement of people would be done in keeping with the standards required by the UN, UNICEF, UNDP and such organizations ensuring the comfort and security of the people. He said this could not be done immediately because of the considerable time required for de-mining the areas held by the LTTE, which had been extensively mined. Assistance had been sought for de-miming from international organizations, including those from India , and there had been a favourable response. De-miming work had already begun in Mannar.

Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Palitha Kohona responding to queries about supplies for the people in the safe zones said there was a popular misconception that humanitarian agencies were responsible for the supply of food and other assistance to the people in these areas. The fact was that 80 - 90% of all food and essentials, health services, medicine and all such relief had been provided by the Government of Sri Lanka throughout this conflict and it would continue to do to now and the future. Sri Lanka's international partners in humanitarian relief will complement the work of the government, he said.

Minister, Samarasinghe thanked the UN and other aid agencies and the ICRC for all the cooperation extended despite certain difficulties and possible misunderstandings, but look forward to continued cooperation in the larger interests of the affected civilian population.





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