5TH LEAD (Adds TNA statement)

"Lift embargo, re-open land routes," - TNA in sit-in-protest

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 05:38 GMT]
Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians launched a sit-in protest in the Sri Lankan Parliament Wednesday morning demanding the re-opening of land routes to Jaffna and the East and urged the Government of Sri Lanka to lift the economic embargo. However, the peaceful protest, which did not disturb the proceedings of the parliament, has been ignored by the house, parliamentary sources said.

The parliament met Wednesday with the Speaker W.J.M.Lokkubandara in the chair.

Soon after he came to the podium, Mavai Senathirajah, Jaffna district parliamentarian and the general secretary of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchchi (ITAK) made a statement in regard to the worsened humanitarian situation and the terror campaign being carried out in the NorthEast.

The Government should re-open the land routes and lift the economic embargo in the NorthEast to relieve the humanitarian crisis, the MP urged the Government before launching the peaceful sit-in-protest.

The TNA statement severely criticised the extra-judicial killings and the forced disappearances of innocent civilians in the NorthEast and elsewhere.

The text of the full statement made by the TNA before starting the protest follows"

"Hon. Speaker,

Under the provisions of the Standing Orders I wish to bring the following matters of urgent public importance to the notice of the House.

  1. Currently, there is a severe shortage of food in the North-East.
  2. There is a severe shortage of other essential items including medicine, fuel and infant food.
  3. The situation has become so acute that people are forced to stand in cues all day to obtain whatever provisions that is available in very short supply. This includes school going children who amount to over 150,000, as a result of which their education has been totally disrupted.
  4. Due to the fuel embargo none of the local bodies are able to function. As a result there are severe hygiene problems that have arisen. This has been compounded by the fact of thousands of civilians living as refugees in camps. This situation has created dangers of epidemics breaking out.
  5. Transportation has been crippled.
  6. Prices of goods have increased over five fold.
  7. There are severe shortages of funds in banks and as a result people are not able withdraw sufficient money to meet the exorbitant prices. Even where people have sufficient funds people are unable to purchase goods due to severe shortage.
  8. The Tamil people of the North-East and the Tamil people of the Jaffna District in particular are facing a humanitarian catastrophe due to the economic embargo imposed by the government.
  9. Further, the refusal of the Government to open the A9 highway and other roads that link LTTE controlled areas with Government controlled areas has also effectively crippled businesses in the North-East. This problem is worst felt by the business community in the Jaffna District where the A9 highway is the only link the masses could have with the rest of the island.
  10. Due to this situation, NGOs and INGOs which have been carrying out humanitarian assistance have also been effectively forced to stop all their work. As a result, thousands of civilians who have been made refugees due to the Government’s military actions have not been provided even with temporary shelter and have been forced to live under trees. This is worst in the Vaharai and Kathiraveli areas in the Batticaloa District.
  11. Amongst all this misery that has been systematically unleashed on the Tamil people by the Government, its Armed Forces are exploiting the situation to the maximum to make profit for themselves. What is worse is that the Sri Lankan Government Armed Forces after systematically and forcibly displacing Tamil civilians from the homes are looting these vacated homes of all valuables.
  12. These actions of the Government are also direct violations of the Ceasefire Agreement.

If the Government persists with this deliberate policy there can be no doubt that the Tamil people will face starvation and death in their hundreds of thousands tantamount to genocide. Therefore the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) calls upon the Government to immediately take measures to salvage the situation by
  1. lifting the economic embargo on the North-East, and
  2. opening the A9 highway and all other roads that link LTTE controlled areas with Government controlled areas. As a mark of expressing the desperate plight of the Tamil people, the TNA has decided to carry out a Sathiyagraha campaign in this House.


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