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You are either with us or against us, warns Sri Lanka

world Updated: Feb 01, 2009 20:47 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

You are either with us or against us. And the government will hound you out of Sri Lanka if you are in the second group. That was the message from top bureaucrat, defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to ambassadors, foreign news agencies including CNN and BBC and international NGOs.

Rajapaksa said those who attempt to support the LTTE would 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."

Warning of "dire consequences", Rajapaksa said that some ambassadors, especially the German and Swiss ambassadors, and some news agencies were behaving irresponsibly. He named, CNN, Al-Jazeera and especially the BBC of attempting to sensationalise civilian hardships by telecasting video clips picked up from LTTE websites.

In an interview to local English newspaper, Sunday Island, he accused a BBC anchor of being partisan towards the LTTE since the 1990s. "If he does not act responsibly and attempts to create panic, I will have to chase him out of the country," Rajapaksa said.

Rajapaksa, former army man and President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother, warned that members of the international community, specifically the German and Swiss ambassadors, who are trying to create panic, will be similarly chased away from the country.

The defence secretary said that all democratic countries, organisations and news agencies must act responsibly and bring pressure on the LTTE to free the civilians trapped in the war zone

On Friday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday appealed to the military and Tamil rebels to ensure safe passage for civilians.

"The Secretary General calls upon the (rebel) Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in particular, to allow civilians in the conflict zone to move to where they feel most secure, including (government-controlled) areas," Ban's press office said in a statement.

He also urged the Colombo government "to ensure that those civilians arriving from the Wanni and other conflict areas are treated in accordance with international standards,'' including guaranteeing their freedom of movement and allowing full access by humanitarian agencies.

The UN chief said he remained concerned about the fate of civilians, including tens of thousands of children, despite Rajapaksa's announcement of safe passage for them.

Meanwhile, the military on Sunday claimed to have captured a fortified camp in the north-eastern district of Mullaitivu where LTTE's suicide bombers, known as the Black Tigers, were trained. The camp was captured after a pitched battle.