Mass protest in vanni: 75,000 Tamils hand letter to UN secretary genaral

Place: Vanni | Date: 19970715

Akkarayan (Kilinochchi) is seeing the latest eruption of mass anti-government demonstrations protesting against the Sinhala-dominated government's food-siege of Tamil Vanni.

Protesters are condemning Chandrika's "war for peace" as a "war of annihilation" being carried out against their people by the government's Sinhala armed forces. Popular feeling is rising against what Tamils consider the most vicious Sinhala government yet spawned. In real terms, it has wreaked more damage to the ecology of Tamil areas, more destruction to Tamil people's homes and buildings, made more people homeless and is carrying out greater repression day to day than any other Sinhala government that has preceded it. The Confederation of People's Committees is co-ordinating today's huge demonstration. The march began in Akkarayan's Maha Vidyalam grounds and is proceeding towards the office of the Kilinochchi Secretariat. A memorandum will be handed to the main government representative there to be transmitted to the Colombo government.


75,000 TAMILS HAND LETTER TO UN SECRETARY GENERAL

Yesterday'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.