Canada urges LTTE to negotiate, Tamils to converge on parliament

April 21st, 2009 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, April 21 (IANS) With more than 25,000 Tamil protesters likely to converge on parliament when Prime Minister Stephen Harper returns to the house Tuesday, Canada has urged Tamil Tigers to negotiate with Sri Lanka to end hostilities.
Thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils have been protesting in Ottawa for two weeks, seeking Canada’s intervention to end the “genocide” of Tamils in the conflict zone. Five protesters even sat on a 10-day hunger strike, demanding sanctions on Colombo and withdrawal of the Canadian envoy.

As parliament re-convened Monday, Tamil leaders tried to meet Canadian ministers and MPs to seek intervention in the crisis. They said about 25,000 protesters will show up when the prime minister returns.

However, in a statement Monday, the Canadian government urged the Tamil Tigers to negotiate terms with the Sri Lankan government and not to stop civilians fleeing the conflict zone.

Calling upon Sri Lanka to show restraint to let civilians leave the conflict zones, the statement said: “Both sides must allow the safe and voluntary movement of civilians from combat zones and ensure full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers to those in need.

“The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) must stop preventing civilians from leaving the remaining LTTE-controlled territory and must allow freedom of movement to civilians under their control.”

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said: “I have spoken with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Canadian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Angela Bogdan today (Monday) on the humanitarian issues of concern, such as access to water, sanitation and medical support.

“I have instructed our high commissioner to continue Canada’s engagement with the government of Sri Lanka on the need for assistance to internally displaced persons.”

The foreign minister said: “The conflict cannot be resolved militarily; it can only be settled through a durable political solution that meets the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Sri Lanka.”

He said the LTTE should “discuss with the government of Sri Lanka the terms for ending hostilities, including the renunciation of violence, the laying down of arms, and acceptance of the government of Sri Lanka’s offer of amnesty, as the first step toward an inclusive political dialogue that can contribute to a lasting peace.”

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