Sri Lankan rebels announce unilateral ceasefire, gov't rejects
www.chinaview.cn 2009-04-26 19:14:45   Print
 
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels said it has announced a unilateral ceasefire in face of humanitarian crisis.
"All of LTTE's offensive military operations will cease with immediate effect," the statement added.
Gov't has rejected the ceasefire offer, insisting that the LTTE must lay down arms and surrender.

    COLOMBO, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels said on Sunday that it has announced a unilateral ceasefire in the face of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and in response to the calls made by the international community, but the offer has been rejected by the government.

    "In the face of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and in response to the calls made by the UN, EU, the governments of the United States, India and others, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has announced a unilateral ceasefire," the peace secretariat of the LTTE said in a statement.

Tamil civilians flee to government controlled areas from Tamil Tiger rebels' last territory in Puthukkudiyiruppu, northern Sri Lanka, April 24, 2009. (Xinhua/Chen Zhanjie)

Tamil civilians flee to government controlled areas from Tamil Tiger rebels' last territory in Puthukkudiyiruppu, northern Sri Lanka, April 24, 2009. (Xinhua/Chen Zhanjie)
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    "All of LTTE's offensive military operations will cease with immediate effect," the statement added.

    However, the Sri Lankan government has rejected the ceasefire offer, insisting that the LTTE must lay down arms and surrender.

    Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse, the younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, was quoted by the media assaying that the offer "is a joke" as the LTTE "were not fighting with us, they were running from us."

    He said there is no need of a ceasefire and the LTTE must surrender.

    Lakshman Hulugalle, director general of the government's Media Center for National Security told Xinhua by telephone that the LTTE "have to lay down arms and surrender. We will definitely carry on with our humanitarian operation."

    Hulugalle said actually there is no formal response from the government because there is no way for the LTTE to officially inform the government about their decision.

    The LTTE said in the statement that over 165,000 people living within the coastal area still under the LTTE control in the northern Mullaittivu district are subject to continuous attacks by Sri Lankan Navy, Air Force and Infantry.

    "Those who were moved out of the war zone have been detained and are held in concentration camps where they are subjected to torture in violation of all international conventions. These IDP (Internal Displaced Person) population are not permitted to return to their homes. Instead, some are being used as human shields by the Sri Lankan forces," said the LTTE statement.

    The LTTE said it welcomed the attempts by the UN and its agencies to assist the civilian population and are ready to engage and cooperate with them to address the humanitarian needs of the population.

A photograph of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa hangs above defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella (C), who is flanked by military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara (L) and Media Centre for National Security Director General Lakshman Hulugalle, as he speaks during a news conference at the media centre for national security in central Colombo April 22, 2009.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
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    "We are in full agreement that the humanitarian crisis can only be overcome by the declaration of an immediate ceasefire. As the first step we have now announced this unilateral ceasefire and call upon the international community to pressure the Sri Lankan Government to reciprocate it," the statement added.

    The LTTE's announcement came as the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes is making a three-day visit to Sri Lanka assessing the government's humanitarian effort.

    Some 50,000 civilians are still believed to be trapped in the conflict between the government troops and the LTTE in the remaining 10-sq-km area safety zone in Puttumatalan, a small town around 400 km northeast of the capital Colombo.

    The military said they have secured some 110,000 civilians trapped in the safety zone since Monday when the troops broke the defense lines of the LTTE and entered the area.

    This has put pressure on the government's relief mechanism amid reports of large civilian casualties in the process.

    The government said it is on the verge of totally crushing the LTTE as almost all of the 15,000-sq-km territory held by the LTTE has been captured by the government in a military offensive launched in 2006.

    Claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority Sinhalese-dominated governments, the LTTE began to fight for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east since the mid-1980s, resulting in the killing of more than 70,000 people.

 

UN official calls for ceasefire in Sri Lanka to save civilians

    COLOMBO, April 26 (Xinhua) -- UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes on Sunday asked the Sri Lankan government to suspend its military offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels to allow the trapped civilians to escape from the war zone.

    Holmes arrived in Colombo Saturday night on a three-day visit, which focuses on the civilians trapped in the island's northeast battle zone amid a call by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to allow a UN team into the fighting zone, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Full story

Sri Lankan army chief visits northern battle front

    COLOMBO, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka toured the northern battle fronton Saturday to review the status quo in the ongoing operations in the no fire zone (NFZ) in Puttumatalan of the Mullaittivu district, defense officials said.

    Fonseka flew to Vavuniya in the morning to meet his triumphant troops who have led a successful military campaign against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), officials from the Ministry of Defense said. Full story

Sri Lanka's key province goes to polls

    COLOMBO, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Some 3.8 million voters in Sri Lanka's Western Province go to polls on Saturday in what is expected to a popularity test for President Mahinda Rajapakse's war effort against the Tamil Tiger rebels.

    Rajapakse has been holding provincial council election on a staggered basis and Saturday's Western Provincial Council election is also poised to hand Rajapakse another endorsement of his war effort. Full story

Tamil civilians flee to gov't controlled areas from N Sri Lanka

Tamil civilians flee to government controlled areas from Tamil Tiger rebels' last territory in Puthukkudiyiruppu, northern Sri Lanka, April 24, 2009. Thousands of civilians fled to government controlled areas from Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels' last territory amid the military's final onslaught on the rebels since Monday. The international community called on the two sides to avoid a bloodbath for the sake of innocent civilians.(Xinhua/Chen Zhanjie)

Tamil civilians flee to government controlled areas from Tamil Tiger rebels' last territory in Puthukkudiyiruppu, northern Sri Lanka, April 24, 2009. Thousands of civilians fled to government controlled areas from Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels' last territory amid the military's final onslaught on the rebels since Monday. The international community called on the two sides to avoid a bloodbath for the sake of innocent civilians.(Xinhua/Chen Zhanjie)
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Gov't: Sri Lankan rebel leader still trapped in no fire zone

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara (2nd L) points to a diagram that he says shows the progress of the Sri Lankan army against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during a news conference at the media centre for national security in central Colombo April 22, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
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    COLOMBO, April 22 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government said Wednesday that Tamil Tiger rebels' leader Velupillai Prabakaran is still being trapped in a small patch of land in the northern no fire zone (NFZ) as large number of civilians fled to government controlled areas.

    The government' defense spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters that he believes Prabakaran is still hiding in the remaining less than 13-sq-km of the NFZ in the northeastern Mullaittivu district. Full story

Sri Lankan president: Rebels' defeat imminent

    COLOMBO, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan President Mahenda Rajapakse said the complete defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels was imminent as more than 35,000 civilians fled the no fire zone (NFZ) controlled by the rebels on Monday in the north.

    The president made these remarks when he made a sudden visit to the Air Force Headquarters in Colombo on Monday to watch an aerial video from a military spy plane over the less than 20-sq-km NFZ at Puttumatalan in the northern Mullaittivu district, said the Department of Government Information in a statement. Full story

EU urges Sri Lankan parties to avoid further civilian casualties

    BRUSSELS, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Friday called on all parties in Sri Lanka to take all necessary action to avoid further civilian casualties from the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and to create conditions for the establishment of full and unrestricted access for humanitarian aid to be safely delivered.

    "The EU expresses deep concern about the large number of civilian casualties and deteriorating humanitarian situation in the North of Sri Lanka. The plight of the civilians still trapped by the fighting and who remain at extreme risk from the ongoing hostilities is our primary concern," said a statement issued by the EU Czech presidency. Full story

Editor: Wang Guanqun
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