Basil's Jaffna meet fails to discuss people in internment camps

[TamilNet, Friday, 19 June 2009, 09:02 GMT]
The meeting meant to explore possibilities of the resettlement and rehabilitation of more than 13,000 Vanni civilians held in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) internment camps in Jaffna, held under tight security in Jaffna Public Library Thursday ended without any significant decisions regarding the issue concerned, Government officials who attended the meeting said. The venue of the meeting which was to be held in Jaffna Secretariat was changed at the last moment to Jaffna Public Library due to security reasons, the sources said. Even the pens carried by the officials were subjected to checking.

Basil Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse's brother and advisor, Governor of Northern Province, Dickson Sarathchandra Dela and Sri Lanka Minister and leader of Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party (EPDP), Douglas Devananda chaired the meeting.

The departmental heads and officials participating in the meeting were asked to gather at 7:00 a.m at Jaffna Secretariat and from there were taken in buses to Jaffna Public Library, escorted by SLA soldiers.

Meanwhile, Jaffna Public Library was taken over by SLA from Wednesday evening and it was out of bounds for its employees and the public until the end of the meeting.

Around 8:00 a.m. all the government officials were subjected to meticulous checking in which even their pens were dismantled for inspection, before being allowed to enter Jaffna Public Library, the officials said.

After about two hours, Basil Rajapaksa, who had been flown to Thuraiappa Stadium in a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) helicopter, arrived at Jaffna Public Library.

The meeting which ended around 3:30 p.m. did not discuss the intended issues but focused merely only on collecting information related to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the officials said.

Douglas Devananda, who normally plays a prominent role in similar high level government meetings in Jaffna, was conspicuously silent during the meeting, the sources added.

Areas around Jaffna Public Library and Duraiappa Stadium were heavily guarded by SLA and police from Wednesday evening until Thursday evening and no one was permitted to enter these areas.

Basil Rajapaksa, at the end of the meeting thanked the SLA soldiers for having defeated ‘terrorism’ in the country.

Journalists and media were not allowed to attend the meeting.

 

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