Donors condemn fighting in Sri Lanka

WASHINGTON, Nov 21, 2006 (AFP) – Major donors engaged in efforts to end Sri Lanka’s civil war condemned the government and Tamil rebels alike Tuesday for human rights abuses and systematic violations of a 2002 ceasefire. Senior diplomats from the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the ongoing fighting that they said has led to “significant loss of life and widespread human rights violations”.

“We condemn the continued and systematic ceasefire violations by the government of Sri Lanka as well as by the LTTE,” said the statement, read out by US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and referring to the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam movement.

The four-party group went on to “particularly condemn the LTTE for initiating hostilities from populated areas, and the government of Sri Lanka for firing into such vulnerable areas and killing and wounding innocent civilians”.

They called on both sides to set up demilitarized zones to protect civilians displaced by the fighting and “depoliticize” the humanitarian issue by opening up sea and road routes for relief convoys.

More than 3,300 people have been killed in the past year in fighting between gover