"War is not an option" - LTTE
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 17 August 2005, 09:42 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers said Wednesday they are committed to ceasefire and would return to the Norwegian peace process if the February 2002 truce agreement was implemented in full. In an interview to Reuters, LTTE’s Political Head, Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan, said the Tigers are ready to defend the Tamils from attack. "War is not an option," he told Reuters. "But if war is thrust upon the Tamil people, we will have no option but to face it... So it's in the hands of the Sri Lanka government", he said.
Abiding by an ongoing truce was the only way to resurrect a stalled peace process, he said.
"We want to maintain the ceasefire momentum, the peace ... and ensure that we walk back into the peace process again," Mr. Thamilchelvan said.
Mr. Thamilchelvan rejected SL President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s accusation that the Tigers assassinated Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.
Few in Colombo believe the Tigers' denial of any role in Kadirgamar's killing, Reuters reported.
Kadirgamar, a Tamil, is seen by many of his community as a traitor to their cause after campaigning to have the LTTE banned internationally as a terrorist group, and defending the Sri Lankan armed forces against international criticism of human rights violations.
However, Mr. Thamilchelvan said that although his organisation had little regard for Mr. Kadirgamar, a close confidante of President Kumaratunga, it did not mean the LTTE killed him.
"The collective Tamil thinking and the judgment... of the man is that he is a traitor," Mr. Thamilchelvan said. "This does not necessarily mean he has earned his death, because it is not just Mr. Kadirgamar who did this."
"An eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth is not the concern at the moment when we are strongly committed to the ceasefire agreement," he added.
"We are seriously interested in the ceasefire agreement."
The Tigers say Kadirgamar's killing at his private residence in a high security zone in Colombo by snipers late on Friday was probably an inside job by elements opposed to the peace process.
But Thamilchelvan stopped short of accusing anyone directly, saying it was up to the police to investigate and find the culprits and for the courts to try them.
Kadirgamar "had 24-hour security," he told Reuters. "So if in the end someone had been able to infiltrate into that set up and meticulously carry out a killing, definitely there is an inside element in this matter."
"The most simple way to get the peace process back on track is by sincerely and effectively giving implementation status to the ceasefire agreement," Mr. Thamilchelvan said.
"That alone is sufficient to get the peace process back on track for the parties to sit down and talk."