Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Malaysians must call for the end of killing in Sri Lanka,,,and go to the aid of the victims

There is surely hundreds...maybe even thousands of civilians - men, women and children who are being killed, and injured, in Sri Lanka over the past weeks as the Sri Lankan army have been aerial bombing, bombing, shooting in their quest to regain territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE).

Sadly, the attention of the international media (and even our local media have been focussed elsewhere in Gaza as these killings in Sri Lanka got on its way.

Whilst, there have been news coming out about the achievement of the Sri Lankan in gaining ground - there seem to be little or no reports on the figures/data of persons killed, injured or even captured. The access and freedom of the media seem to have been severely restricted...and this is also the case with regard to the aid organisations. All news seem to be just coming from the Sri Lankan government.

Again, we in Malaysia is called to act ... to call for the immediate stop of the violence, for a stop of the killing and injuring of persons especially Sri Lanka.

The branding of organisations and persons as 'terrorist' by the United States, the European Community, etc..and even our own Malaysian government has possibly suppressed open calls for an end of the fighting and killing..., and even for the open collection of aid from the Malaysian publics.

Every group or organisations, who resort to the taking of arms, as one of or the only means, of fighting for freedom, independence and/or greater autonomy in governance in a particular area have sadly been branded 'terrorist'... or 'terrorist organisations'. The branding seems to be used today as a justification...or a 'moral basis' for the attacks and/or attempts to totally anhilate these groups and/or their alleged leader...Listen to how Israeli seem to justify their actions against HAMAS...and its alleged leaders.

Remember how our own Malaysian Government used 'links to terrorist organisations' as a justification from suppressing HINDRAF.

If we go back to history .... we will see that for many of countries today, those who fought for independence would have been branded 'terrorists'...and 'terrorist organisations...'. Remember America, South Africa, Vietnam,...

Thus, there must be a rejection of Bush's 'War on Terror'..., these lists of 'terrorist organisations', etc.

Whilst, we may be opposed to the use of terror tactics and violence - we must also acknowledge that sometimes this may be the last resort, and in certain limited situations may even be justified. The opposition to the use of terror methods must also not be confined to just groups not in government...but also to governments. The recent use of terror and/or 'terrorist acts' by the Israeli government in Gaza, the Sri Lankan government, the US government in Iraq...Pakistan, etc must all be criticised and condemned.

Rule of Law must agin be emphasized...i.e. the right to a fair trial, etc... You cannot just kill someone because you call him a 'terrorist'. Allegations must be proven, and those alleged must always be given the opportunity to defend against these allegations.

No more should the branding of 'X' as a terrorist be acceptable.

No more should the use of bombs/rockets in places for the purposes of killing 'X' be justified, more so when others also get killed and injured.

In any event, the time has come for Malaysia to condemn the currect actions of the Sri Lankan government which certainly is killing and injuring also innocent civilians...

The time has come again for us to go to the aid of these victims of 'terror' by the State.

Sri Lanka war 'traps thousands'

Mullaittivu, the last LTTE base, is under government control following the military's offensive [AFP]

About 250,000 Sri Lankan civilians are trapped and hundreds have been killed in heavy fighting in the country's north, the International Red Cross has said.

The aid organisation said on Tuesday that a major humanitarian crisis was unfolding as Sri Lanka's military continues its offensive against the country's Tamil Tiger rebels.

"Hundreds of dead and scores of wounded" medical facilities in the Vanni region, the Red Cross said in a statement.

"It's high time to take decisive action and stop further bloodshed because time is running out," Jacques de Maio, the group's head of operations for South Asia, said.

"People are being caught in the crossfire, hospitals and ambulances have been hit by shelling and several aid workers have been injured while evacuating the wounded."

The Red Cross has urgently appealed to both sides to allow civilians to leave the combat zone.

"When the dust settles, we may see countless victims and a terrible humanitarian situation unless civilians are protected and international humanitarian law is respected in all circumstances," de Maio said.

Neil Buhne, the UN resident co-ordinator in Sri Lanka, earlier said that reports indicated an estimated 150,000 civilians were still trapped in the jungle battle zone and were in serious danger.

'Zero civilian casualties'

Sri Lanka's government insists there have been "zero civilian casualties" in its operation to crush the rebels in their last remaining bastion of Mullaittivu district.

But doctors on the ground say this is far from the case.

"Three dead bodies of civilians were brought in on Tuesday and 15 more admitted injured due to the heavy shelling," T Satyamurthy, the director of Udaiyaarkaddu hospital, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

Most of Mullaittivu district is now under government control following the military's offensive.

Tony Birtley, Al Jazeera's correspondent who visited Mullaitivu under the oversight of the army, said the the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are fighting for the creation of an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka, appeared to have fled the town.

"There are no civilians, just stray cows and members of the Sri Lankan army division which took this town.

"Although the Tamil Tigers seem to be retreating, they seem to be putting up some resistance.

"The civilians appear to be retreating with the Tamil Tigers.

"The government is saying they are being forced to - that they are being used as human shields - but we don't know that for certain."

Government denial

In an interview with Birtley, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan defence minister, said that government forces exercised extreme caution during the offensive and only fired on Tamil Tiger rebels.

He dismissed the claims of civilian deaths as LTTE propaganda, insisting that no civilians have died in the recent fighting, and that reports to the contrary should not be believed.

"We don't use indirect fire unless we are 100 per cent certain that those are LTTE camps or bases ... This is all LTTE propaganda," Rajapaksa said.

The official death toll is unknown as medical officials have said they have been ordered by the health ministry in Colombo not to reveal casualty figures. No journalists are allowed into combat zones on their own. - Al-Jazeera, 27/1/2009

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