Civil society groups call for Indian intervention in Sri Lankan crisis

February 16th, 2009 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) Members of various civil society groups Monday demanded that the Indian government pressurise Sri Lankan authorities to take steps to save lives of nearly 250,000 Tamil civilians caught in the fighting in the north of that country.

“The ongoing war between Sri Lankan government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in north Sri Lanka has posed a great danger to around 250,000 civilians, who are Tamils, caught in the midst of war,” Tapan Bose, general secretary of South Asia Forum for Human Rights, told reporters here.

Members of various civil society organisations, journalists, researchers and activists were present on the occasion. They later submitted a letter with their demands with the foreign secretary Monday.

“It (the war) has led to loss of life, property and liberty of common people. But inspite of protests on an international level, the situation remains unchanged,” Bose said.

“There is no meaning of assurances given by Sri Lankan government to the Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The Indian government has completely ignored the right of Sri Lankan Tamils,” he added.

“The Indian government should pressurise the Sri Lankan government to restore democracy and human rights of Tamils caught in the war. New Delhi should intervene for humanity and for interest of South Asia,” he added.

“The Sri Lankan government is not interested in devolution of power and India has to take a call on this,” Bose said.

They also voiced their concerns over freedom of media in Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka’s failure to protest freedom of media, particularly in taking action against sections of Sinhala right wing organisations, who have been killing and terrorising independent media persons demonstrates the authorities’ lack of concern for Tamil and Muslim citizens caught in the war,” said Sukumar Muralidharan, the south Asian co-ordinator of International Federation of Journalists.

“The government is calling journalists traitors and terrorists. Due to these kinds of problems, around 35 media persons have left Sri Lanka and have come to India,” he said.

“We want the Sri Lankan state to protect media personnel and uphold the freedom of expression,” he demanded.

– Indo-Asian News Service


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