Obama, UN ask Tigers to surrender, Sri Lanka to stop shelling civilians

May 14th, 2009 - 10:25 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 14 (IANS) President Barack Obama and the United Nations Security Council have called on the Sri Lankan government to stop “indiscriminate shelling” of Tamil civilians and Tamil Tiger rebels to lay down their arms.

“Indiscriminate shelling” of Tamil civilians that has taken hundreds of innocent lives, must stop, Obama said in Washington Wednesday. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) also must stop using civilians as human shields, he said.

“Without urgent action, this humanitarian crisis could turn into a catastrophe,” he said noting “Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are trapped between the warring government forces and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka with no means of escape.”

“So I urge the Tamil Tigers to lay down their arms and let civilians go. Their forced recruitment of civilians and their use of civilians as human shields is deplorable.”

Obama said “the government should live up to its commitment to not use heavy weapons in the conflict zone,” and should grant UN and Red Cross aid workers access to suffering civilians.

“The United States stands ready to work with the international community to support the people of Sri Lanka in this time of suffering. I don’t believe that we can delay,” he said.

“Going forward, Sri Lanka must seek a peace that is secure and lasting and grounded in respect for all of its citizens,” he said.

“More civilian casualties and inadequate care for those caught in resettlement camps will only make it more difficult to achieve the peace that the people of Sri Lanka deserve.”

In New York, The Security Council also called on the LTTE to lay down its arms and let civilians leave and said Sri Lanka should adhere to its commitment not to use heavy weapons in areas where civilians are sheltering.

Security Council members “express deep concern at the reports of continued use of heavy weapons in areas with high concentrations of civilians,” the UN said in a statement.

It called on the government to take steps to evacuate civilians and allow international aid into the region.

The council condemned the LTTE for “its acts of terrorism over many years and its use of civilians as human shields”. It also acknowledged the Sri Lankan government’s legitimate right to combat terrorism.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters “a lasting solution to this problem, this problem which has gone on for many years and has caused such tragedy, is full participation of all of Sri Lanka ’s peoples in the political process, including ethnic minorities like the Tamil.”

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