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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2523

TMVP surrenders weapons

Colombo, 08 March, ( A Sri Lankan Tamil militant group which broke away from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on 03 March 2004 surrendered its weapons to the government on Saturday, a spokesman from the group said.
According to reports, some 250 weapons belonging to the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP, meaning Tamil People's Liberation Tigers), were handed over to the Army Eastern Commander at a public function at Weber Stadium, Batticaloa, some 320 km east of the capital Colombo in the afternoon, TMVP spokesman Azad Moulana said.

Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP) party, surrendered their arms through the party's Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan in the presence of its senior leaders.

Azad Moulana said the TMVP would now function solely as a democratic party. "Our politburo took a decision to hand over the weapons as terrorism is coming to an end," Moulana said. He said the TMVP had taken to arms for self defense but now there is no need to carry arms.

On the future of its armed cadres, Moulana said the Ministry of Defense and the International Organization for Migration had both promised a better future for them.

In the meantime, "The LTTE has been dismantled militarily by the security forces and that is why the TMVP has decided to give up the limited number of weapons it held and that too for its personal security," senior Cabinet Minister and government Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told media on Friday.

Rambukwella said the former Tiger cadres who broke away from the LTTE had carried arms to defend themselves from the rebels.
"The laying down of arms indicates that the former Tigers believe the LTTE is no longer a threat to their lives," he said.

Earlier, TMVP took control of Batticaloa's local councils in the election held in March last year and two months later its leader Sivanesaturai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan was elected the chief minister of the Eastern Province in the provincial council election.

The TMVP however has been accused by the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other NGOs of recruiting children and engaging in extortion in its war against the LTTE in the past.

Sri Lanka's government troops, now fighting a fierce battle with the LTTE in the north, say the troops are on the verge of totally defeating the rebel group as the rebels have been cornered in a small area of 45 sq km.

Large numbers of civilians are still trapped in the battle zone in the north and the international community is calling both sides to ensure the safety of the civilians.

- Asian Tribune -

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