Monday, April 20, 2009

Put pressure on LTTE to free civilians - President Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa called on all those pressuring his government, both locally and internationally for an extended "humanitarian pause" or a ceasefire, to instead appeal to the LTTE to give freedom of movement "just for one hour" to innocent civilians stranded in the No-Fire Zone (NFZ), in the North.

"If the LTTE gives such freedom was given to the Tamil civilians held back by it for nearly 30 years, no one could prevent them coming of their own free will to the government controlled areas", he said.

He was addressing a gathering of ayurvedic physicians, Justices of the Peace, and representatives of farmer organizations at Temple Trees, Colombo April 18.

Evan as he made this statement the military reported that more than 2,800 civilians crossed over from the NFZ, where the LTTE is still holding several thousand civilians, to government controlled Safe Zone. This is the largest number of civilians to cross over from the war zone on a single day in the last few months.

In contrast during the recent 48-hour pause of offensive for during the traditional New Year period - April 13 & 14, there were hardly any civilians who crossed over from the NFZ, which by then had 68,000 who had fled to freedom. This was so during the 48-hour pause announced by the President in January 2009, too.

President Rajapaksa said the operations of the government Armed Forces were not aimed at the Tamil people but against a terrorist group and they did not harass or put the Tamil people into any difficulties, although but some politicians were alleging violation of human rights against him, the Defence Secretary and the Army Commander. They would rather face the gallows than betray the country, he said.

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