Morang Bong's Crewmen Released
[TamilNet, Sunday, 13 July 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The 37 North Korean crewmen of the Sri Lankan supply vessel, Morang Bong, captured by the LTTE have been released, according to the Red Cross (ICRC). The crew were detained last Monday night. The captain is said to have been surprised on seeing the other side of the island's ethnic conflict.
According to the ICRC, the 37 crewmen were released today. The ICRC will probably escort them to Colombo and hand them over to the owners of the supply vessel. The ship had been hired by the Sri Lankan government to carry supplies to the Jaffna peninsula. Over 40,000 Sri Lankan troops are garrisoned there, without a land based supply route.
The captain of the ship is quoted on an LTTE press release today as being quite surprised at the level of suffering being inflicted on the Tamil people. The North Koreans are believed to have spent the past few days in the Mullaitivu region of the Tamil homelands, which is one of the areas hit hardest by the indisicriminate Sri Lankan fire as well as the economic embargo.
The captain is said to have described the Sri Lankan government as 'merciless' in its persecution of the Tamils and is said to have sympathised with the armed struggle.
The North Koreans are arguably the only foreigners to have witnessed the conditions in the Tamil homelands in the past year, due to the Sri Lankan government's ban on reporters entering the Tamil homelands.