75,000 Tamils Hand Letter To Un Secretary General

Place: Vanni | Courtesy: TamilCanadian
| Date: 19970715

Today's mass protest in Akkarayan (Vanni) attracted no less than 75,000 people in bitter fury against the Sri Lankan government's economic blockade of Vanni. These people face starvation because the government stops them buying food (blocking all imported food at Vavuniya) and denies relief to the thousands of Tamils it has displaced (people unable to produce food after their displacement).

Medicine is also similarly blocked by the Sri Lankan government at Vavuniya, and has been for years. The cumulative result of all this is that Tamil people are severely under-nourished and unresistant to disease. The birth-rate has dropped sharply; the infant mortality rate has risen dramatically. Children who do manage to survive are grossly under-weight and malnourished. In an effort to draw attention to this humanitarian disaster the ordinary people of Vanni have been protesting in huge numbers for the last few weeks. For the third time this week, a mass demo and human-chain rally took place. The 75,000 attendants braved the scorching sun and marched for two hours from Akkarayan Maha Vidyalam (school) to the office of the Kilinochchi government secretariat. Placards condemned the "genocide" enacted by the government and its armed forces and slogans were shouted with gusto. A letter setting out the people's grievances was handed to the Assistant Government Agent to be sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who it is hoped will take up the matter with fitting urgency.