Sensing war win, Sri Lanka urges outsider responsibility (Roundup)

South Asia News

Feb 1, 2009, 11:36 GMT

Colombo/Berlin – Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa warned ambassadors, news agencies and international non- governmental organizations (NGOs) to act ‘with responsibility’ as security forces were set to defeat the Tamil rebels.

In an interview with the Sunday Island newspaper, Rajapaksa warned that those acting irresponsibly will face ‘dire consequences’ if they ‘attempt to give the LTTE terrorists a second breath of life’.

Rajapaksa is President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, and has been among those spearheading the military campaign against Tamil rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The Island newspaper quoted him as saying that ‘some ambassadors, specially the German and Swiss ambassadors, and some news agencies were behaving irresponsibly’.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry defended its ambassador Juergen Weerth, denying the charges. ‘Possible misunderstandings should be solved in dialogue with one another and not with threats,’ said a ministry spokeswoman Sunday in Berlin.

Weerth was already summoned before Sri Lankan officials in January for reading a letter of condolence at the burial of a murdered Sri Lankan journalist.

Rajapaksa accused CNN, Aljazeera and – especially – the BBC of trying to sensationalise civilian hardships by telecasting videoclips from LTTE websites. He specifically said BBC correspondent Chris Morris had lent support to the LTTE since the 1990s.

‘They will be chased away (if they try) to give a second wind to the LTTE terrorists at a time the security forces, at heavy cost, are dealing them the final death blow’, Rajapaksa was quoted as saying.

He urged that what the international community including UN agencies and the ICRC should do is to maximize pressure to bear on the Tigers and make them release civilians trapped in the war zone and used as human shields.

He said it was irresponsible not to talk about civilians held in the war zone by the LTTE while making comments that only helped the LTTE.

The Defence Secretary’s comments came as government troops were on its final phase to recapture Tamil rebel held areas in the north eastern part of the country, aimed at ending a 25 year old conflict.

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