By Walter Jayawardhana

Tamil civilians who are caught up in the war are not allowed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( LTTE) to leave the war zone charged the Catholic Bishop of Jaffna , in a statement to Indian Express newspaper.

The Catholic Bishop of Jaffna Rev. Thomas Savundranayagam, is quoted having told the newspaper, “The people are anxious to flee the war zone for their own survival. But they are unable to do so for two reasons. One is that the LTTE is not allowing them to go. The second reason is the fear that the government and the security forces may suspect them of being LTTE cadre or LTTE sympathisers, and detain or imprison them.”

The government of Sri Lanka has often charged that the LTTE is using Tamil civilians as a “human shield” to protect them, since the army is reluctant to hurt the civilians. The government has also requested the civilians to flee and enter government controlled areas. Some have done so, according to government publications.

The Roman Catholic Bishop has also charged the rebel group of forced labour of the civilians in their military constructions. He has said the massive earh bund the LTTE constructed for their defence is a result of forced labour. The Bishop said, ““The church and I are very concerned about the sufferings of the people. The people have no shelter and no security what so ever. The current torrential rains have made life unbearable. Many of the displaced persons had moved several times in the past few months.”

The Tamil Bishop also reportedly told parliamentarians of the proxy party of the LTTE, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) who are in India to see New Delhi government , to pressurize the Indian rulers to bring pressure on the Tamil Tigers to release the civilians.

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