3rd lead (Adds details, photos, fulltext of proposal in PDF format)
Tigers release proposal for Interim Self Governing Authority
[TamilNet, Saturday, 01 November 2003, 06:25 GMT]
The Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) proposed by the Liberation Tigers will have plenary power for the governance of the northeast, including powers in relation to resettlement , rehabilitation, reconstruction and development, raising revenue, law and order, and over land, according to the LTTE document released on Saturday. The ISGA will continue until a final settlement to Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict is reached and implemented, according to the document.
Mr. Thamilchelvan addressing the press conference at the LTTE's Peace Secretariat
Thamilchelvan during his opening speech described the conditions that led to the armed struggle and called upon the media "to take this message of peace to the nooks and corners of the country."
Following are some excerpts from the document released during the press conference by Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan, the Head of the LTTE's political division in Kilinochchi Saturday:
ôRepresentatives of the Muslim community will have the right to participate in the formulation of their role in ISGA. The composition of the ISGA shall comprise members appointed by the LTTE, members appointed by the Government of Sri Lanka and members appointed by the muslim community in the northeast.
"The number of members of the ISGA will be determined to ensure absolute majority of the LTTE appointees in the ISGA and subject to this condition Muslim and Sinhala communities in the northeast shall have representation in the ISGA.
"Separate institutions for the administration of Justice shall be established for the northeast and judicial powers shall be vested in such institutions. The ISGA will take appropriate measures to ensure the independence of the judges.
"The ISGA will have powers to borrow internally and externally, provide guarantees and indemnities, receive aid directly and engage in or regulate internal and external trade.
"There shall be an independent Human Rights Commission appointed by the ISGA.
"As part of the exercise of its executive powers, the ISGA shall have direction and control over any and all administrative structures and personnel in the northeast pertaining to the powers set out in clause 9 of this agreement.
"The ISGA may at its discretion create expert advisory committees in necessary areas. These areas will include, but are not limited to, economic affairs, financial affairs, judicial affairs, resettlement and rehabilitation affairs, development of infrastructure and essential services.
"Since land is vital to the exercise of the powers set out in clause 9 (jurisdiction of the ISGA), the ISGA shall have the power to alienate and determine appropriate views of all land in the northeast that is not privately owned.
"The ISGA shall appoint a special commission on administration of land to inquire into and report on the rights of dispossessed people over land and land subject to encroachment"
"The SGA shall determine the terms of competencies of the special commission.
"Occupation of land by the armed forces of GoSL, and the denial to the rightful civilian owners of unfettered access to such land is a violation of the norms of international law. Such lands must be immediately vacated and restored to the possession of the previous owners. The GoSL must also compensate the owners for the past dispossession of their land.
"The ISGA shall be responsible for the settlement and rehabilitation of displaced civilians and refugees in such land.
"The ISGA shall have control over the marine and offshore resources of the adjacencies [of the northeast] and the power to regulate access thereto."
A section of the press covering the press meeting of the LTTE
|Mr. Thamilchelvan addressing the press conference at the LTTE's Peace Secretariat Photo: Vasanth LTTE
|Thamilchelvan Photo: Vasanth/LTTE
Full text of the opening speech given by Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan during the press conference as reported in the LTTE Peace Secretariat website follows:
"We have great pleasure in meeting with a sizeable cross-section of the media both local and international, today especially in the background of the Tamil Proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority for the NorthEast, having been handed over yesterday to the Norwegian Ambassador for transmission to the GOSL.
Before going into the details of the proposals, it is pertinent to mention here, that the Tamil people have, for the last twenty years or so faced a cruel war and military occupation of their homesteads. The war brought with it destruction of lives, more than eighty thousand civilians and devastation of the entire infrastructure, both social and economic.
The basis of our struggle is to regain the lost freedom of the Tamil people and bring them in par with our Sinhala brethren, enabling them to enjoy human liberty and dignity and the recognition as a distinct nation of people. Briefly stated, it is normalcy that the Tamil people are asking for, without a sense of military coercion and subjugation.
We took up arms as a matter of self-defense and fight against unlawful military occupation of our natural habitat. With the advent of peace and a conducive environment for political negotiations, we are now engaged in this exercise with sincere commitment.
In the year 2000 our national leader declared a unilateral ceasefire with a view to resolve the conflict through political negotiations. The government in power then did not reciprocate but opted to let loose a cruel and destructive war against the Tamil people. Several hundreds of thousands of people were made refugees overnight in their motherland. The destruction the war brought cannot be said to have been confined to the NorthEast; ordinary Sinhala masses too suffered immensely due to the economic constraints consequent to the war.
During the current peace process, while the South has enjoyed peace dividends, the NorthEast has yet to reap such rewards. While the South has largely returned to normalcy, in the NorthEast tens of thousands of people remain displaced from their homes, without jobs, and unable to resume normal life. In short, the peace thus far has been asymmetric with more benefits accruing to the areas least affected by the conflict. Given the possibility that negotiations to resolve the conflict could continue for months or even years, there is an urgent need to address the needs of the people of the NorthEast while negotiations to achieve a lasting solution to the conflict continue.
The failure to address the needs of the people of the NorthEast is due in large part to the ineffectiveness of the existing Institutions operating here. In addition, the Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN) and other Sub-Committees formed during the peace negotiations have failed to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people. This is due to the composition of these Sub-Committees, which has repeatedly led to deadlock and an inability to act on urgent problems.
The continued suffering of our people has, in turn, complicated efforts to negotiate and to reach agreement on the essential elements of a long-term settlement to the conflict.
As a result, it has become apparent that a new system of governance is essential to bring normalcy to the war-ravaged NorthEast, and that there must be an Interim Self-Governing Authority to accomplish this task. The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has recognized this in its 2000 election manifesto, as well as in its own initial proposal, which has served as a useful starting point. However, one clear lesson to be gleaned from the peace process thus far is that in order to accomplish the immediate return, resettlement, and rehabilitation of tens of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees, and in order to reconstruct the NorthEast's economic, educational, and cultural infrastructure, it is essential that any Interim Governing Authority have plenary power.
The Tamil proposal takes into consideration the needs of the Tamil people in the NorthEast as well as the legitimate interests of the GOSL. The creation of an Interim Self-Governing Authority is also an efficient means of building institutional capacity, which will be essential to post conflict government.
The Tamil proposal has been formulated after thorough consultations with international experts, as well as with parties to similar conflicts, which have now been peacefully resolved or are in the process of being so resolved, and after substantial discussion with major segments of the Tamil People internally as well as abroad.
We have asked the Royal Norwegian Government to arrange for a meeting at which we can discuss this proposal, in their presence, with the representatives of the GOSL at a mutually convenient time and venue.
We look forward to continuing our dialogue with the GOSL and to reaching rapid agreement on the creation of an Interim Self-Governing Authority(ISGA) so as to effectively bring normalcy and economic development to the Tamil People in the NorthEast.
We trust the creation of the ISGA will provide a conducive environment for negotiating towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the island.
Peace to the Tamil people should be translated as peace and prosperity to the entire country. Therefore, it is responsibility of all of us and most importantly you the representatives of the media to take this message of peace to the nooks and corners of the country. We fervently request of you to become active partners to work for the general welfare and the redemption of this country from the economic mess. "