Robert Blake visits Ki'linochchi, learns the plight of Vanni civilians

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 May 2011, 18:08 GMT]
Robert O. Blake, the US assistant secretary of state for the South and Central Asian affairs visited Vanni for the first time on Tuesday and learned the plight of Tamil civilians, affected by the genocidal war waged by the Sri Lankan state in 2009 and continue to suffer in the hands of the SL military. The occupying SL military didn't allow journalists to witness the event, which was scheduled as monitoring the ‘development’ activities supported by the USAID, the lead development agency of the US government. However, civilians who had the opportunity to raise their plight with Mr. Blake, who came to witness the programmes for unemployed youth and the farmers, said they got an opportunity to raise their concerns and got a chance to respond to the questions from the visiting US diplomat.

The farmers said they explained how they faced the war while responding to the questions by Mr. Blake and elaborated the problems they were facing in their resettlement amidst continued occupation and harassment by the SL military. Mr. Blake was able to meet the civilians within the four walls of the agricultural office without the presence of SL government or the military officials.

Mr. Blake also visited the employment office in the district and met the youth who were deprived of employment opportunities.

The US diplomat, who has been expressing his support to the government of Sri Lanka throughout the years, came out with several questions on the situation of families that have resettled in Vanni. He questioned the civilians, especially on the allegation of whether they were kept as ‘human shields’ during the war and on the continued allegations of sexual abuse committed on Tamil women. The people also explained how they were treated by the SL military inside the barbed-wire camps in Vavuniyaa.

The farmers complained about the various SLA imposed restrictions on their freedom to move within their own land and explained how they were being monitored and kept under subjugation by the SL military.

After the US diplomat left Ki'linochchi, the SL military intelligence officers questioned those who were approached by Mr. Blake during his ‘development’ trip.

Prior to his trip to Vanni, the visiting assistant secretary of the US State Department met Tamil National Alliance (TNA) representatives R. Sampathan and S. Sumanthiran at the US Embassy in Colombo on Monday.



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