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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SAYS THE TAMIL TIGERS HAVE HELD A 82-YEAR OLD MAN TO EXTORT MONEY VIOLATING THE MOU WITH RANIL

By Walter Jayawardhana reporting from Los Angeles

The London based human rights organization, the Amnesty International has sent a world wide appeal requesting to save a 82-year old man, whom the organization alleges had been held hostage for ransom over a month now by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in violation of a MoU signed between them and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka.

The Nobel Peace prize winning human rights organization has alleged that the old man had been kidnapped and being held at the LTTE camp in Padirippu in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka. to extort money from his family.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed between the country’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe and LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, parties to the MoU should abstain from hostile acts against the civilian population.

The Amnesty International has brought the human rights violation by the terrorist group to the attention of Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission headed by Norway but the old man taken hostage over a month ago is yet to be released from the captivity of the Tamil terrorists.

A release by the Amnesty International said the organization was concerned for the safety of K.V.Sithamparapillai , from Bar Road , Thamaraikerny in the Batticaloa District who is continued to be held in captivity in a LTTE camp in Padirippu from April 26, now over a month.

The 82-year old man visited the camp to pay Rs. 300,000 ( US$ 3100) which the terrorist group demanded from him as extortion money.

The Amnesty international charges that the old man was prevented from returning home by the LTTE terrorist group until his family paid them a further 2,200,000 Rupees (US $ 22,800), "of an amount originally demanded from him several weeks ago."

The Amnesty International said the 82-year old man was originally abducted on 16 April after he had refused to pay 500,000 Rupees and held for two days. Amnesty International said the terrorist group released him on condition the money would be paid, when a distant relative stood surety.

But when he took only 300,000 Rupees the terrorists took him as hostage for ransom and the family had been informed that he would be held until the rest of the money was paid.

The Amnesty international said the case had been brought to the attention of the Norway led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. Under Clause 2.1 of the agreement signed between the Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and terrorist leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. According to the section of the pact parties to the agreement in accordance with international law should abstain from hostile acts against the civilian population , including such acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment, the AI said. But the terrorist group has claimed the due amount as tax money for their government of the separate state called Eelam.

The Amnesty International also reminded that the taking of hostages , for ransom or otherwise was prohibited under common article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions.

The human rights group has made a world wide appeal to express the concern for the safety of the 82 year old man , to express concern that his captivity was a violation of the MoU signed between the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Velupillai Prabhakaran and demand his immediate release.

The Amnesty International said appeals should be sent to the following asking for his immediate release:
(1) Anton Balasingham. C/O Tamil Coordinating Committee-France, 341 Rue de Pyrenees, 75920 Paris France (fax: + 33 1 43 58 11 91)
(2) World Tamil Movement, 64 Eaton Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4J2Z5, Canada and
(3) Tamil Coordinating Committee, Det tamilske Samordningsutvalget, Pb1699 Vika, 0110 Oslo, Norway ( fax: +47 33 38 10 40) email: teedor@online.no


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