Tamil Americans urge Co-chairs to promote "equal partnership for peace”

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 04 January 2006, 00:35 GMT]
A group of US organizations representing Tamil Americans, in a letter sent to Co-chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference Monday, welcomed the Co-chairs' call for an immediate meeting of the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers, and urged the Co-chairs to make clear to both sides that attacks on civilians will not be tolerated, ask military to withdraw from civilians homes and public buildings and to threaten SL Government with sanctions if steps are not taken to disarm paramilitaries.

Full text of the letter follows:

Co-Chair for Norway-- via Hon Ambassador for Norway, Colombo
Co-Chair for European Union--via Hon. Ambassador for EU, Colombo
Co-Chair for Japan-- via Hon. Ambassador for Japan, Colombo
Co-Chair for USA-- via Hon. Ambassador for USA, Colombo.

Co Chairs’ Brussels statement of 12/19/05

We are submitting this memorandum jointly with several other concerned organizations, which are listed at the end.

We welcome Co- Chairs’ call for an immediate meeting of the Government and LTTE to review the implementation of the Cease Fire agreement (CFA), and your declaration of strong support for Norway’s role as Facilitator. We also welcome your call, yet again, for the Government to disarm para- militaries, as required by CFA. It is past time to declare that further inaction will trigger serious consequences. It is evident that there has been for several months a concerted plan by paramilitaries and military intelligence to assassinate Tamil leaders from the East.

Overall, however, the Statement shows a pronounced bias in favor of the Government. It seemingly reflects more the Co- Chairs’ role as part of the so- called “international safety net”, created jointly by the Wickremasinghe Government and some important aid Donors, more to promote their mutual interests than a just and durable peace based on negotiations between the Government and LTTE as equal partners, with Norway as Facilitator, as envisaged in CFA. It is also regrettable that Norway, the Facilitator, was a party to such an unbalanced Statement.

The Statement also reflects a willful misreading of the Tamil peoples deep seated feelings about the intolerable and odious status quo in the North East. The status quo involves not only virtually no relief, despite the CFA, from suffering and displacements caused by the war and tsunami, but also from the harassments and indignities, and continued occupation of tens of thousands of homes, schools and temples, in direct violation of the CFA, at the hands of the almost entirely Sinhala military

The Co- Chairs seem to accept the Government’s fantasy that the Tamil peoples’ ongoing demonstrations against the odious and open ended status quo, are simply an LTTE creation. This explains their unreal demand that the LTTE essentially enforce the status quo, under Co- Chairs’ threat of “serious consequences”. It also explains their allegation that the successful Tamil boycott of the presidential election was “enforced” by LTTE, ignoring the long history of political maturity and activism of the Tamil people, especially in Jaffna, and a very broad acceptance of LTTE leadership, confirmed in last parliamentary elections. The Tamil people have learned from bitter experience that, irrespective of which candidate is elected President, a political solution which meets their legitimate aspirations is not possible, within the framework of the present Constitution, especially if winner had a minority of Sinhala votes.

In contrast, the Co- Chairs’ Statement has no mention of the threat to the peace process posed by the new President’s rejection of every key component of the peace process espoused by the Co Chairs, including the Oslo declaration and PTOMS agreement about tsunami aid to North East.

Inevitably, the Co- Chairs statement has been seen as a signal of their approval to the Government to use force to enforce the status quo. The retaliatory attacks by the military on Tamil civilians, is in part the result of this perception. Unless the Co- Chairs take a firm stand against such tactics, which are a violation of human rights and international law, it will not be long before a full blown, old style “counter- insurgency” operation is in place in the North East as well as Colombo, under which torture was pervasive and thousands of Tamil civilians were killed or disappeared under cover of Emergency Rule ( as documented in US State Department reports) The new army chief, hand picked by President Rajapakse, is well known in Jaffna as an hardline exponent of these tactics, having served there earlier as area commander.

If the Co- Chairs are serious in their support of full implementation of the CFA, and in promoting a just negotiated solution, based on the core CFA principle of “equal partnership for peace”, they will need urgently to support the following:

  1. Make clear to the Government that sanctions will be imposed, unless immediate steps are put in place to disarm para- militaries. Without significant Government action, it is unlikely that any progress can be achieved at a meeting between the Government and LTTE.

  2. Also make clear that attacks on civilians by either side will not be tolerated, and will be met with sanctions. Unless such attacks are stopped, they will meet resistance, unlike in the past, and will likely result into renewed war in the North East.

  3. In order to minimize the risk of violence between the military and civilians, and to restore homes, temples and schools to civilians as called for in the CFA, the military needs to be gradually withdrawn from civilian inhabited areas, beginning immediately with the areas around the Jaffna University campus.

  4. Resume immediately local level meetings of the military and LTTE.

  5. Demonstrate a better understanding of the existential problems facing the Tamil people in the North East and of their faith in the LTTE. They should also avoid blatant acts of partisanship like their failure to condemn the murders of senior Tamil Parliamentarian Pararajasingham, and many other Tamil leaders and journalists like Kumar Ponnambalam, Sivaram, Kaushalyan , Nimalarajan etc, even as they have been quick to condemn every alleged violation of CFA by LTTE. Ironically, many of these murders may well have been avoided if the Co- Chairs had taken a firm position with the Government on disarming of paramilitaries.

World Tamil Coordinating Committee – USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam – USA
World Tamil Women Organization – USA
Federation of Tamil Association of North America (FeTNA)– USA
Center for Women’s Development and Rehabilitation – USA
Tamil Heritage International – USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam - Florida
World Tamil Organization - Illinois
Midwest Tamil Sangam - Illinois
Ohio Tamil Association - Ohio
Tamil Refugees Rehabilitation Organization - California
Illankai Tamil Sangam - California
Illankai Tamil Sangam - Vancouver-Portland – Washington



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