Thousands demonstrate to protest at cutting refugee relief to Tamils

Place: Vanni | Courtesy: LTTE press release
| Date: 19980717

Tens of thousands of displaced Tamils together with large numbers of students, teachers, religious dignitaries and members of various welfare organisations, today took part in a protest march, more than a mile long, to denounce the Sinhalese government for cutting refugee relief to Tamils since July 1.

The marchers sent appeals and petitions to the heads of several international bodies including the UN Secretary general, Hon Kofi Annan, UNHCR, ICRC and foreign ambassadors. The petitions stated that the government's cut in relief to Tamil refugees will surely lead to starvation and death for many. The documents highlighted the Sri Lankan government's unjust 8-year old embargo on food and medicine to the Tamil region where thousands are suffering from malnutrition and the sick are unable to get medical treatment. The memoranda also referred to the government's denial of educational facilities to Tamil students in the region.

The rally started at 9 AM from the Akkarayan Mahavidyalayam and by 12 PM reached the Kilinochchi government agent's office where a memorandum condemning the Sri Lankan government was handed over to Mr Balasingam, the assistant government agent.

A public meeting was held at the government agent's office-premises chaired by Ponn Vinayagamoorthy, the president of the Kilinochchi confederation of citizens committees. Various dignitaries including Rev. Fr. Atputharasa, Mr Cyril, the president of the Multi-purpose co-operative societies union, Mr Ganesapillai, head of the union of NGOs, Mr P Thangarajah, the president of the Pooneryn based welfare and development societies, spoke at the meeting and criticised the government for cutting relief to refugees.

The mass rally then proceeded from the Kilinochchi government agent's office to the offices of the UNHCR and ICRC in Mallavi and hand over appeals and petitions to the resident representatives there.