Thamilchelvan's assassination a major setback to Sri Lanka - NPC

[TamilNet, Saturday, 03 November 2007, 13:03 GMT]
The National Peace Council (NPC), a Colombo based peace group, condemning the air attack assassination of Liberation Tigers Political Head and Chief Negotiator S.P. Thamilchelvan, Saturday said the assassination of the high profile personality, who had to walk a thin line between the LTTE's military interests and political realities, was a major setback to any possibility of a return to the negotiating table. Expressing fear of the danger of retaliation in a like or more severe manner, the NPC said it was dismayed that three decades of bitter experience has not taught the leaders of the country that the military option is a high cost and inhumane one unbefitting of a democratic society.

Full text of the press release issued by the NPC follows:

Killing Off Leaders Will Not Lead To Solution

The killing of LTTE political wing leader and chief negotiator S P Thamilselvan in an air strike in Kilinochchi is likely to lead to more severe escalation of the present phase of war. It deepens the crisis of violence that confronts the country and serves to remind us of the tens of thousands of lives that have been lost, including a large number of democratically elected leaders of the government and other political actors. Although some of those killings seemed very significant at the time they took place, none of them led to a solution to the conflict, but only served to generate more hatred and determination to retaliate and fight back.

The National Peace Council has always condemned assassinations of high profile personalities whatever the ideologies they stood for, including that of Mr Thamilselvan whose killing will be a major setback to any possibility of a return to the negotiating table any time soon. He was the public face of the LTTE and had to walk a thin line between the organisation's military interests and political realities. This assassination deprives the already seriously eroded peace process of a keeper of institutional memory in the field of negotiations who could have contributed positively if and when the government and LTTE resume dialogue which, we believe, will have to take place sooner or later.

Recent speeches by government leaders reveal the continuing belief in a military solution to the conflict between the government and LTTE. The National Peace Council is dismayed that three decades of bitter experience has not taught the leaders of the country that the military option is a high cost and inhumane one unbefitting of a democratic society. The danger exists that the latest incidents will lead to retaliation in a like or more severe manner. But retaliation only serves to strengthen forces that seek escalation of conflict, and would create conditions of war in which killings get much worse.

We are saddened about the increased likelihood of an escalated cycle of violence and revenge that will further dehumanise the social and moral fabric of our country. We reject the belief that killing off leaders in a situation of ethnic conflict can by itself be a method of conflict resolution. We urge the government and LTTE to address the political root causes that gave rise to the conflict as a matter of priority and find that the military conflict becomes much easier to resolve. We call for restraint from all sides. An eye for an eye will only make us all blind to political realities.

Executive Director
On behalf of the Governing Council


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