Osama squads to fight the LTTE



NEW DELHI: The Muslim youth in several parts of Sri
Lanka may soon form their own anti-LTTE suicide 'Osama
squads' to fight the discrimination meted out to them
by the Tamil extremists.

With indiscriminate killings and abductions of the
Muslim community by the LTTE reported in the Eastern
province, undercurrents of anxiety verging on
desperation have been increasing in momentum on the
West coastline among its peace-loving members. 

The first public expressions of a backlash came last
week from the Forum of Muslim Organisations, reports
reaching here indicate.

Already Muslim youth in Batticaloa have formed the
Ossama squads since fair play is not ensured for the
community in the embattled north and east.

The grim foreboding was voiced at a meeting called by
the Unity Forum which had invited the Citizens'
Movement for Good Governance and others interested in
a sustainable solution for peace last week, The Island
reported from Colombo.

According to U Abdul Wahab, a Colombo-based east-coast
businessman the major threat was that Muslim youth
would soon step out on the same path Sinhala youth had
taken with the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna uprisings and
the Tamil youth driven to militancy in the past.

"The Muslims of the East have a six per cent majority,
yet the Government chooses to negotiate with the LTTE.
We are sitting on the lip of a volcano about to erupt.
The absolute apathy, and incapacity of the Government
is to blame. Today the LTTE is armed to a degree that
their driving the Muslims out of the East is imminent"
Wahab was quoted as saying.

The prevailing sense of insecurity among the Muslims
of Sri Lanka has been prompting the Forum to present
their case at meetings with the gamut of local and
international organisations and foreign
representatives in Colombo. 

The LTTE has discriminated against Muslims, and in
1990 expelled some 46,000 Muslim inhabitants --
virtually the entire Muslim population -- from their
homes in areas under LTTE control in the northern part
of the island. 

Most of these persons remain displaced and live in or
near welfare centers. Although some Muslims returned
to Jaffna in 1997, they did not remain there due to
the continuing threat posed by the LTTE. 

In the past, there were credible reports that the LTTE
had warned thousands of Muslims displaced from the
Mannar area not to return to their homes until the
conflict was over. 

However, with the ceasefire and peace efforts on, the
LTTE has made positive statements on the possible
return of Muslims to this area. In the past, the LTTE
also expropriated Muslim homes, land, and businesses,
and threatened Muslim families with death if they
attempted to return. 

It appears that these attacks were not targeted
against persons due to their religious beliefs, but
rather that they were a part of an overall strategy to
clear the north and east of persons not sympathetic to
the cause of an independent Tamil state.


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