3RD LEAD (Adds details)

Ambassador Boucher visits Jaffna

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 09 May 2007, 10:15 GMT]
Ambassador Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Affairs, accompanied by US Ambassador in Colombo Robert O' Blake, arrived in Palaali in Jaffna district around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday by a special flight. Mr. Richard Boucher held discussion with the Sri Lanka army high officials in Palaali military headquarters and at 11:15 a.m. he met with the Jaffna Government Agent K.Ganesh at the latter's office located in the Jaffna district secretariat and discussed about the ground situation in the peninsula. Government officials also attended the discussion.

Hundreds of Sri Lanka Armed forces were stationed in Jaffna town to provide security to the visiting US diplomats. People entering and leaving Jaffna town area and secretariat surroundings were meticulously searched.

Ambassador Boucher and K Ganesh
Ambassador Boucher and K Ganesh
Representatives of the Jaffna peninsula NGO federation, Human Rights Commission Jaffna officials and Uthayan Daily staff met Ambassador Boucher at Bastian Hotel, located close to the Jaffna Secretariat, at 11:45 a.m.

NGO representatives submitted the last four month's report detailing the arrests, abductions, killings and other violation of human rights in the peninsula and requested the US ambassador to urge US to exert pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka to safeguard human rights, participants said.

Particular mention was made to those abducted being recovered as corpses and to the closure of A9 land route which has created serious travel and economic problems for the peninsula residents.

The HRC officials who met the ambassador said that they gave him the detailed report about the persons missing and abducted in the peninsula.

Managing Director of Uthayan daily, Saravnabawan and its Chief Editor, M. P. Kalamaiylnathan, in their meeting with Boucher told him of the pressure, harassment and the obstruction to freedom of movement of the peninsula journalists. They also drew the ambassador's attention to the acute shortage of news print, Uthayan staff said.

The representatives of the above organizations said that Ambassador Boucher listened attentively to their requests, and sought additional details in several important issues.

Jaffna University representatives and Jaffna Bishop, Rt. Rev. Thomas Soundaranayagam met Ambassador Boucher around 2:00 p.m, at Jaffna Public Library.

Ambassador Boucher and the US delegation held discussions with the Acting Vice Chancellor Prof. R. Kumaravadivel and his staff about the problems faced by the undergraduates and the academic staff.

Jaffna Bishop. Rt. Rev. Thomas Soundaranayagam is reported to have made a clear presentation of the current situation in the peninsula.

Mr.Ganesh also handed over a memorandum to Boucher about the current ground situation in Jaffna.

Boucher's Jaffna visit

Ambassador Boucher and the US delegation were expected to visit the Uthayan paper offices but the programme was cancelled at the last minute due to security considerations.

The US delegation travelled to Jaffna town along Palaali road instead of being flown in a military aircraft, the usual mode of travel of diplomats.

The Ambassador is expected to leave to Colombo Thursday evening.

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