The Progressive


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For Immediate Release
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Immediate Humanitarian Truce Needed So Trapped Sri Lankan Civilians Can Reach Safety


Amnesty International calls on the government
of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) to declare
an immediate humanitarian truce so an estimated 100,000 desperate civilians
caught in the middle of the conflict zone can leave for safety.

An official two-day ceasefire between the
Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tigers expired yesterday. However, Amnesty
International contacted two medical professionals working in a health facility
in the no - fire zone who described a scene of chaos. Urgent humanitarian
aid is needed as reports emerge that food and medical supplies are running

One medical worker reports that 92 injured
civilians have been brought to the hospital today and fighting is intensifying.
Another medical worker reported 75 casualties had arrived at the hospital
yesterday with gunshot wounds and at least 12 civilians were killed. Medical
supplies are running low and the hospital had run out of anesthetic, surgical
blades and basic medications.

Amnesty International is unable to verify
these reports as the conflict zone has, in effect, been sealed off by the
Sri Lankan government denying aid workers and independent human rights
observers access to the area. The United Nations reported in March that
more than 2,800 civilians have been killed and more than 7,000 injured
since the beginning of the year.

The United Nations also reports that Tamil
Tiger fighters killed six civilians trying to flee the conflict zone during
the ceasefire.

"An urgent humanitarian pause must be implemented
immediately. Thousands of civilians are in grave danger from the continuing
fighting and are in fear for their lives. The government of Sri Lanka needs
to allow independent monitors to ensure that civilians feel safe to come
out of the Tamil Tiger controlled areas. The Tamil Tigers must also
ensure that civilians are not being used as a buffer against government
forces", said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human
rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Amnesty International is a global movement of millions of people demanding human rights for all people - no matter who they are or where they are. We are the world's largest grassroots human rights organization.

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