The government Monday criticized the hotly disputed UN attempt to secure the release of two UN employees held by the LTTE through secret negotiations.
Defence Secretary Colonel (retd) Gotabhaya Rajapakse said that they should have brought the abduction of UN employees to the government`s attention immediately.
The Island recently revealed the arrest by the LTTE of two local UN employees accused of helping Tamils flee the LTTE-held region. Some of them are believed to have fled to avoid being forcibly conscripted.
Defence Secretary Rajapakse accused the Colombo-based UN bigwigs and an influential section of the diplomatic community of double standards. The abduction took the centre stage at a Defence Ministry meeting
chaired by Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe to review the ground situation. The bi-weekly meeting was attended by senior representatives of local and international agencies active in the North and East. US Ambassador Robert O. Blake was among the diplomats present.
The UN had kept the seizure under wraps believing that the LTTE would eventually free the captives.
Well informed sources said that the UN headquarters too, had been informed of the unprecedented act of terrorism directed against the UN staff.
Both the army and the LTTE are strengthening their positions in the region as the security forces tighten their grip on the eastern theatre of operations.
Gotabhaya Rajapakse pointed out that that although the UN workers were abducted in February it was kept a secret. He accused a section of the international community of adopting a different approach when dealing with the LTTE and expressed the belief that human rights champions and those who accuse the government of death and destruction at the drop of a hat are silent. Their effort to shield the LTTE, despite the high handed act was a case in point, he said.
The LTTE has told the UN that anyone challenging their authority would have to face the consequences. A senior Defence Ministry official said that the both print and electronic media which champion the cause of the LTTE are maintaining a deafening silence.
The Defence Secretary urged them not to shield the LTTE by keeping silent. This request was made in the backdrop of a high profile campaign against the government and security forces over human rights violations.
In response to the Defence Secretary`s remarks, NGOs acknowledged that they were under tremendous pressure with the LTTE stepping up conscription in the Vanni. People irrespective of their affiliation to NGOs are being targeted by the LTTE as part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen the fighting cadre.