SL President pledges to end violence of Tamil armed groups - Balasingham

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 April 2006, 18:29 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapakse has assured the LTTE leadership, through the Norwegian facilitators, that he will do everything within his powers to implement the pledges given by the government at the first session of peace negotiations held in Geneva in February this year. The President has instructed the military authorities to take necessary action to disarm Tamil armed groups and to put an end to the violence perpetrated against the Tamil Tigers and their supporters in the government controlled areas in the northeast. The development was reported after a meeting between the Norweign Envoy Mr. Hanssen-Bauer and the Chief Negotiator of the LTTE Mr. Anton Balasingham Saturday.

Mr. Balasingham and Mr. Jon Hanssen-Bauer
The President’s assurance was conveyed to the LTTE leadership through Mr Hanssen-Bauer, the Norwegian special envoy, when he met Mr Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator of the Tamil Tigers, at his residence in London Saturday. The meeting, which focused mainly on the deteriorating security situation in the north-eastern Tamil homeland, lasted for three hours. Mr Hanssen–Bauer was assisted by Mr Sondre Bjotveit, senior official from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

Mr Balasingham told the Norwegian peace envoy that the LTTE leadership is frustrated and resentful over the recent escalation of violence by the Tamil paramilitaries and the refusal on the part of the Rajapakse administration to disarm and contain them.

During the discussions Mr Balasingham raised two contentious issues, which, he argued, needed urgent action to help to facilitate the LTTE to participate at the next session of peace talks, scheduled to take place from 19 to 21 April in Geneva.

The first issue is the disarming of the Tamil paramilitary groups operating in the government controlled areas. The government made a solemn pledge to disarm and contain the violent activities of the Tamil armed groups at the first session of peace talks held in Geneva.

The second issue is the arrangement of sea transport, with truce monitors on board, to facilitate eastern field commanders of the LTTE to attend a crucial Central Committee meeting before the next session of the Geneva talks.

Elaborating to the TamilNet about today’s discussion, Mr Balasingham said that he provided to the Norwegian envoys details of violent incidents committed by the Tamil armed groups. "The violence of the paramilitaries has escalated many fold after the first session of the Geneva talks. There have been several offensive operations against our military positions by Karuna’s armed men with the active backing of the Sri Lanka troops and we have suffered casualties. The Tamil paramilitaries are parading with arms in the streets of Batticoloa and Jaffna in blatant defiance of the Geneva accord. They are involved in the abduction of children, intimidation, harassment, extortion and arbitrary killing of civilians sympathetic to the LTTE. The most disturbing incident was the assassination of Mr Vigneswaran, a Tamil political leader of Trincomalee, who was brutally gunned down by Tamil paramilitaries with the active collusion of the Sri Lanka military intelligence. The escalating violence of the paramilitaries and the government’s reluctance to disarm and contain their violent activities has made the peace talks a meaningless, futile exercise," Mr Balasingham told the Norwegian peace brokers.

During the meeting Mr Hanssen-Bauer contacted Mr Erik Solheim, Norwegian Development Minister, in Oslo and briefed him on the contents of the dialogue, specifically the contentious issues raised by the LTTE. Mr Solheim contacted President Rajapakse and explained the necessity of taking urgent action to help to facilitate the LTTE to participate in the next round of peace talks.

The Sri Lankan President, having consulted his advisors and the higher ups in the armed services, assured Mr Solheim that he would take appropriate action immediately to disarm and contain the violence of the Tamil armed groups in government controlled areas. The President has also pledged that the Sri Lanka navy would take necessary measures to arrange sea transportation for the LTTE eastern commanders to visit Killinochchi.

Mr Balasingham has assured the Norwegian facilitators that the LTTE would definitely participate at the second session of peace talks in Geneva when President Rajapakse takes concrete action to resolve the issues raised by the LTTE leadership.

 

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