Tamil Tigers urge Fischer to tour rebel stronghold

10th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 January 2005, KILINOCHCHI - The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have called on German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to visit their rebel-held territory in northeastern Sri Lanka. Sippiah Paramu Tamilselvan, head of the Tamil separatist LTTE's political wing, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that Fischer would be acknowledging the desperate cries of tsunami victims in the Tamil region by accepting the offer of the insurgent group. Fischer travels on Monday to Colombo for meetings with the Sri

10 January 2005

KILINOCHCHI - The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have called on German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to visit their rebel-held territory in northeastern Sri Lanka.

Sippiah Paramu Tamilselvan, head of the Tamil separatist LTTE's political wing, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that Fischer would be acknowledging the desperate cries of tsunami victims in the Tamil region by accepting the offer of the insurgent group.

Fischer travels on Monday to Colombo for meetings with the Sri Lankan government and is scheduled to leave Tuesday without visiting the disaster zone along the island's coast, where an estimated 30,000 people died in the 26 December tsunami and 1 million remain homeless.

Tamilselvan, from the rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi, urged Fischer to approach the trip as a "humanitarian" mission and to ignore the line of demarcation as set by Sri Lanka's government in Colombo.

Tamil minority separatists fought the government, dominated by Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority, for almost 20 years before a Norwegian- brokered formal ceasefire in February 2002.

The scale of the coastal disaster has led to a degree of awkward cooperation between the government and the rebels.

But a weekend tour of Sri Lankan tsunami damage by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan angered LTTE leaders when the UN chief failed to visit areas held by Tamil forces.

Tamilselvan called it part of a pattern of discrimination by the government to only show visitors the catastrophe in southern Sri Lanka. Northern areas, already devastated by the civil war, have suffered immensely in the tsunami.

Before leaving on Sunday, Annan tried to downplay the issue, noting that the UN is "not a one-man show" and has "many people" working in "all parts" of Sri Lanka.

During the two-day visit, he also met with leaders of the Tamil National Alliance, a political party considered pro-rebel. "I'm hoping to come back ... and see all parts of the country," Annan said, citing time constraints for his failure to accept an invitation to LTTE areas.

Sri Lankan newspapers reported Sunday that the government limited Annan's visit to the south and a government-controlled area close to the northeastern port city of Trincomalee.

The government denied the allegation, saying that the list of areas to visit proposed to Annan's staff included the rebel-held Mullaitivu, but that the final programme was reached in consultation with UN officials after considering issues including security and timing.

Diplomatic sources said, however, that the United Nations Development Programme office in Colombo had put forward the proposal that Annan visit the rebel-held areas.

World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who held weekend meetings with both government officials and opposition politicians, joined Annan for tours of Sri Lanka's Hambantota district and flew over devastated areas of Galle, Ampara and Batticaloa.

Tamilselvan accused the Colombo government of neglecting areas controlled by the LTTE in disaster relief. Only in the wake of media coverage did assistance begin to trickle in, he said.

Support for refugees from the deadly waves has been wholly inadequate, and the LTTE has only been able to provide the most basic care thanks to assistance from Tamil exiles around the world through rebel-linked charities, Tamilselvan said.

Helping the homeless rebuild their houses and lives is likely to take more, he said, than the group can muster without outside assistance.

DPA

Subject: German news

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