Saturday, February 28, 2009

U.N. Ambassadors unanimous LTTE laying down arms, releasing civilians to Sri Lanka government

Influence Tigers to let civilians go" - Sir John Holmes: Sri Lanka not on UNSC Agenda

United Nations, New York. 28 February ( At the conclusion of the U.S. Secretary General’s Special Representative for Humanitarian Affairs Sir. John Holms many ambassadors representing other countries were unanimous that the LTTE is now defeated and that it should lay down the arms and release all trapped civilians to move to Sri Lanka government declared safe zones.

Here are some of the comments the ambassadors provided to the press corps after the Security Council session that discussed Sri Lanka:

The Russian Ambassador Vitaly I. Churkin was categorical in saying that the today’s briefing is a onetime affair and that it will not go beyond that. This is an internal situation against a terrorist group which the Government is trying to handle through military and political means.

Observers say that the LTTE lobbyist’s attempt to get UN Security Council to give them further breathing space through a ceasefire failed to materialize. The LTTE has only to blame itself for holding civilians hostage and shooting the very people who were trying to flee to freedom. The Government on the other hand seems to have scored by expanding its cooperation and assistance through the UN, ICRC and by the action of the armed forces who took extraordinary measures of restraint and precaution to minimize civilian casualties while taking more casualties among its ranks.

Q: What is Russia’s position on Sri Lanka situation in Security Council?

A: This is an internal conflict that has been there for sometime and it is coming to an end now. It is not on the agenda of the Security Council. Therefore, today’s briefing we think is one time affair and it will not go beyond that. There is no proposal for it to be put on the agenda.

Mr. Le Luong Minh, Ambassador of Viet Nam said It is a legitimate Government fighting a terrorist group.

Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Ambassador of Austria "The Security Force activity in Sri Lanka is against terrorist organization conducted by an elected Government. However, international humanitarian law must be respected by both sides. The Sri Lanka delegation briefed the Council Members at a meeting held at the Mission of Japan in New York where Mr. Akashi too provided information and it outlined action being taken regarding humanitarian matters."

Sir John Sawers., Ambassador of UK "LTTE is a terrorist organization proscribed by many countries including the UK. They are cornered and under pressure and the solution to the current situation is the LTTE laying down arms and allowing civilians to freely move and for political process begin.

"We have received an interesting briefing from Sir John Holmes. The IDP situation in transit camps are not as concerning as once feared. The problem is those trapped by the LTTE. UN Secretary General and his team can continue to remain engaged in this humanitarian situation and assist the process. The United Kingdom was in favour of receiving a briefing on Sri Lanka humanitarian aspect but the UK has a clear position that Sri Lanka is not on the agenda of the Security Council and it is not that kind of situation and the briefing was therefore received informally under other matters."

Mr. Yukio Takasu, Ambassador of Japan and President of the Security Council: "Sri Lanka is not on the Security Council agenda and there was no decision on the discussion or on that matter. The occasion was to get a briefing and there was no other formal decision. There are serious concerns about the plight of the IDPs and those that are trapped by the LTTE.

"One has to understand the nature of the conflict and it is clear that the Government is combating a group of people, the LTTE who are described as terrorist organization by many countries and banned as such.

"It was acknowledged that Government of Sri Lanka is taking a lot of precautions to minimize casualties. However, there are reports of great deal of suffering and casualties. It is well known that LTTE is firing from behind civilians and it is hoped that the Government will continue to exercise maximum restrain.

"A strong focus should be on Tamil Tigers as they are not allowing civilians to go to safety, freely in Government controlled areas. There were reports that the LTTE has attacked and killed their own people trying to free themselves and go to government areas including a report about child suicide bombers being sent. They are also putting obstacles in the way of supplies and evacuations. Tigers should lay down arms to bring this conflict to an end.

"Secretary General Under Secretary General can remain engaged with the Government and cooperation offered by the Government is appreciated. LTTE military actions in the safe zone should stop. The Government has given assurances that 80 percent of the IDPs will go back within the shortest possible time and that strategy of the Government makes sense.

"Difficult to compare Sri Lanka with other situations e.g. Dafur situation in Sudan is a case of threat to international peace and security. Sri Lanka is clearly not such a situation and members recognized that and Sri Lanka is not on the agenda. And we appreciate Government’s openness in providing information."

Source: Asian Tribune