TULF MP Briefs US Decision Makers

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 July 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Mr. Joseph Pararajasingam, the MP for Batticaloa district and the Parliamentary Group Leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), is currently in the United States on a three week visit to brief US officials on developments on the island. His visit is being sponsored by a US-based NGO.

Last Thursday, Mr. Pararajasingam met officials from the U.S Committee for Refugees (USCR) at their offices in Washington. The USCR policy analyst, Mr. Hiram. A. Ruiz and research assistant Ms. Katie Hope are closely monitoring the Tamil refugee situation on the island, having visited the Vanni in November 1996.

Mr. Pararajasingam is said to have briefed them on the worsening state of Tamil refugees in the North-East of the island, describing the hardships being endured by 200,000 Tamil civilians displaced as a result of the Sri Lankan military's recent offensive, Operation 'Jaya Sikuru' and similar previous onslaughts.

The deplorable condition of thousands of Tamil families who have been forced to take refuge in the Mullaitivu jungles and in over crowded refugee camps was also said to have been brought to the attention of the USCR staff.

Mr. Pararajasingam pointed out that the Sri Lankan Government has failed to provide adequate food and medicine to the displaced people and stressed that there is acute shortage of essential supplies in the areas of the Tamil homelands which are not under Sinhalese occupation. The government's reluctance to facilitate the delivery of these necessities to the desperate Tamil population was also raised in the talks.

On Friday, Mr. Pararajasingam met with Mr. Steve Mann, the Director of Sri Lanka affairs at the Department of State in Washington D.C at their C street offices. During these talks Mr. Pararajasingam provided details and supporting statistics on the casualties inflicted on the Tamil people of the North and East and the destruction of Tamil property in the on-going conflict.

Mr. Pararajasingam made an earnest request to the State Department to suspend the military training given to the Sri Lankan military by the 'Green Berets', and to immediately halt the sale of lethal weapons to the Sri Lankan military, so as to facilitate an early end to the war.

He emphasized the urgent need to bring the war to an end, stating that the Sri Lankan government's much vaunted two pronged strategy of waging war on one front and claiming to seek a political solution on the other had clearly failed, as it had not only resulted in an intensification of the war but had also severely reduced the likelihood of finding a political solution.

Mr. Pararajasingam is said to have stressed the importance of LTTE's participation in any resolution to the conflict and made it clear that any discussions that exclude the LTTE could not be expected to result in a lasting and meaningful solution to the conflict.

Mr. Pararajasingam also had lengthy discussions with the Assistant Secretary of Human Rights Affairs at the State Department, Mr. Stephen Coffey, regarding the escalation in human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan security forces, as well as the routine harassment suffered by ordinary Tamil people in military occupied areas.

Mr. Pararajasingam is well known among the Tamil expatriate community and international human rights organizations for his relentless efforts to document and publicize human rights abuses in the areas of North and East which are controlled by the Sri Lankan security forces.

He provided details of the disappearances of Tamils in custody of the armed forces and on the recent surge in the number of rapes of Tamil females in army occupied areas. In particular, he submitted detailed statistics on the human rights abuses of the security forces within his own constituency, the Batticaloa district.

Mr. Pararajasingam has also held meetings with Senator Paul Wellstone, Congresswoman Sue Kelly, Senator Kerry and Mr. Steve Rickart of Amnesty International. A clear picture of the deplorable condition of the Tamil refugees, the deteriorating human rights situation and the futility of the government's prosecution of the war were described to these policy makers. The importance of the LTTE's participation in deriving any viable solution was also stressed in these talks.

Mr. Pararajasingam is currently in New York and is said to have a busy schedule planned, meeting other US policy makers as well as UN officials.

TamilNet will continue to provide coverage during Mr. Pararajasingam's stay in the US.


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