Army vows not to let food into Vaharai, says will capture region

[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 November 2006, 19:41 GMT]
Despite a personal assurance given Thursday by the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to Tamil parliamentarians that emergency food supplies would be permitted to reach tens of thousands of Tamil refugees facing starvation in LTTE-controlled areas, Sri Lanka Army at the border turned back convoys on Friday and Saturday. Saturday’s returning convoy was stopped by suspected paramilitary men and subsequently looted by refugees in government controlled areas. A local Army officier, has told civil officials not to send any more convoys, vowing the Army would not allow food into LTTE-controlled areas under any circumstances and saying the area would be captured soon.

Tamil parliamentarians who met with President Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday raised the plight of 35,000 people (some 11,000 families) facing starvation in LTTE-controlled Vaharai area.

President Rajapakse was accompanied by Basil Rajapakse, Special Advisor to the President and Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, when TNA Parliamentary Group leader R. Sampanthan and MPs Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and S. Jeyanandamoorthy met him.

The MPs pointed out that no food had reached LTTE-controlled Vaharai since October 27 and starvation had set in amongst the people.

They pointed out that Sri Lanka’s military was blocking food convoys.

Earlier last week, troops manning checkpoints at Mankerny, on the border between government and LTTE controlled areas turned back another convoy.

President Rajapske has assured the MPs that food would be sent that very day (Thursday) by that evening, if not by noon.

However no aid was sent that day.

On Friday ten lorry loads were sent, but at Cobra bridge six km south of the Mankerny FDL, the convoy was turned back by troops, who again said they had no instructions from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

On Saturday the TNA’s MPs protested against the blockade in Parliament, disrupting proceedings.

Parliament was adjourned and at a party leaders’ meeting soon after, it was unanimously agreed that food should be sent as the government had a duty to the people there.

Government minister Jeyaraj Fernandepulle, who President Rajapakse had asked the TNA to liase with, urged the TNA to call off their protest.

Minister Fernandepulle spoke by telephone with Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse and agreed that three lorries and two ambulances (with medicine) would be sent.

Batticoloa Government Agent S. Punniyamoorthi Saturday confirmed that he had received MOD clearance that convoy will be allowed to enter into Vaharai and that it would return between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The TNA had protested that was pitifully small amount for the massive needs in Vaharai.

Minister Fernandepulle had again spoken to Gothabaya Rajapakse by telephone and it was agreed 8 lorries and two ambulances would be sent.

Mr. Fernandepulle had admitted this was not enough, but said it was a start.

The TNA had agreed to call off their protest when the supplies reached the people and continued their noisy protest.

Mr. Fernandepulle had approached the protesting MPs again, urging them to stop their protest and assuring them that five lorries had already left and the others were being loaded.

The TNA called off its protest.

But in the east the military had again stopped the 10-vehicle convoy at Mankerny, along with Additional Government Agent, K. Mahesan, Koralaipattu North (Vaharai) Divisional Secretary, S. Kiritharan and media persons who accompanied the convoy.

Earlier troops claimed there was a risk of landmines. But later, pointing to smoke in the distance, the Army claimed the LTTE was shelling and it was too dangerous to proceed.

But civil officials say that, as in the past, SLA guns to the west, not the LTTE had fired the shells.

A local Army officer had warned civil officials not to send any more food convoys as the Army would not permit food to enter Tamil-Tiger areas under any circumstances.

The convoy turned back from Mankerny. But a makeshift barricade manned by Tamil gunmen stopped the convoy just short of the village of Pullavi, 150 meters from Mankerni SLA camp.

The truck drivers were told by the gunmen that the food was needed for displaced people in the area. Six food lorries were stripped, two escaping past the checkpoint.

Civil officials were also told by amused military personnel in the vicinity they need not worry about the people in LTTE-controlled areas as they would soon be under military control.

Other civil officials said they had resupplied the people in the Pullavi area only this week and that there was no reason for people there to forcibly take the convoy's supplies.

Batticaloa District GA said that the food convoys will not be sent to Mankerni border without security assurances from the Government.


Chronology:
15.11.06  Vaharai starves

 

Latest 15 Reports
13.07.20 16:30  
Sonia-Rahul’s Congress advocates India strengthening US-led “Quad” alliance
12.07.20 10:04  
Sinhala Police OIC hit Tamil women with vehicle for opposing monks-led heritage ‘task force’
11.07.20 03:40   Photo
CBK, Kadirgamar condemned at Navaali genocidal massacre remembrance event
10.07.20 00:05   Photo
SL Police harasses Shivajilingam at 25th Remembrance of Navaali massacre in Jaffna
09.07.20 09:33  
SL Navy brutally assaults Tamil fishers in Mullaith-theevu
08.07.20 16:33   Photo
Sinhala colonists encroach into Kangku-veali, Mean-kamam reservoirs in Trincomalee
07.07.20 19:36   Photo
Colombo schemes to expand ilmenite scooping into North from Pulmoaddai in East
06.07.20 19:06  
Colombo transfers Tamil Political Prisoners to notorious Anuradhapura prison
05.07.20 23:06   Photo
University students, Shivajilingam brave SL harassment to commemorate fallen Black Tigers
04.07.20 22:28   Photo
Monk commanding Sinhala-Buddhicisation of North-East threatens Tamil villagers in Batticaloa
03.07.20 19:28   Photo
After Naavat-kuzhi, Colombo targets Poonakari for Sinhala colonisation across Jaffna lagoon
02.07.20 22:26  
Colombo imposes restrictions on Tamil valour related symbolism in schools of North
01.07.20 13:22  
New secret unit among four SL military and police squads competing to arrest Tamil youth in North
30.06.20 22:10  
Tamils blocked from accessing properties near SL Navy training base in Champoor, Trincomalee
29.06.20 23:29   Photo
Moragoda advising Gotabaya prompts Sinhala parties to scrap Provincial Councils
 
Find this article at:
http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=20317