SLMM bids farewell

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 12:41 GMT]
In a press statement issued by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), the Nordic Monitors whose functions were terminated by the unilateral termination of the CeaseFire Agreement (CFA) by Sri Lanka Government, Maj.Gen Solvberg, the Head of Mission, thanked the GOSL and the LTTE for inviting SLMM to serve them, and said "Future heroes in Sri Lanka will be those who recognize the complexity of the situation, and prove able to manage this complexity in a way that reduces rather than increases human pain, fear and hopelessness – those capable of respecting people with different perceptions, and bringing them together."

Full text of the press release follows:

SLMM press statement 16 January 2008-01-16 Status

Today, January 16 2008, marks the final day of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) period in Sri Lanka, that has lasted for almost six years.

The Agreement signed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in February 2002 outlined the mandate for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, as a tool to watch the CFA implementation.

Thus, the abrogation of the CFA also implies the termination of the SLMM. In practical terms, this means that the Nordic monitors will leave Sri Lanka today and early tomorrow morning, leaving behind only a few personnel to wrap up administrative obligations related to the closing down of the mission.

A short recap of history

During the first years of the CFA period, there was seemingly a general spirit of cooperation between the Parties. Violations were relatively few. But lack of progress on critical issues nurtured distrust between Parties, giving set backs in the peace process. Gradually the conflict level increased, involving more military activities, more violence affecting civilians, more signs of insecurity, and more displacement of people. Today, the ground situation displays a reality very far from what is outlined in the CFA.

The SLMM reality

The purpose of SLMM presence in Sri Lanka has all the way been to support the peace process. Defining how best to implement the potential of the SLMM mechanism, has however at times been a huge challenge. As the conflict level gradually increased, the mission re-evaluated its approach, pursuing strategies and working procedures relevant to the situation. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission has been appreciated and slammed, loved and hated, over these six years. Some have expressed their support, saying; “Without the SLMM we will be doomed”, or “Without the SLMM many more lives would have been lost”, or “We are scared for what will happen if SLMM leaves Sri Lanka”. Others have preferred to portray SLMM as powerless, inefficient and utterly biased.

The final report

The SLMM has been present in the North and the East of Sri Lanka, as well as in the capital, every single day for nearly six years. Through on the ground monitoring, we have learned to recognize and respect the complexity of the conflict. Based on this knowledge, the final report from the operation is this:

The SLMM is absolutely convinced that this complex conflict can not be solved by military means. The Head of Mission finds it to be his duty to draw this conclusion as the operation is about to be terminated. It is not a task for the SLMM, however, to advice the parties to the CFA, nor other actors, how to find viable solutions. This has to be left to the people of Sri Lanka themselves – supported by facilitating actors of their choice.

Concluding remarks

The Head of the SLMM uses this final opportunity to thank the GOSL and the LTTE for inviting SLMM to serve them, in their search for a negotiated solution to the conflict between them. It is with sadness that we leave this resourceful and beautiful country at this point of time. It is hard to leave behind people all over the island that we have learned to know, and come to love and respect. We will miss out on the opportunity to further adapt and contribute in the present situation, - and we would like to believe that Sri Lanka misses out on something valuable too.

In the time to come, fortunately, many actors both inside and outside Sri Lanka, will continue to contribute to the search for a solution to the conflict. Hopefully, wise choices will be made at all levels by those who possess the power to make decisions.

Future heroes in Sri Lanka will be those who recognize the complexity of the situation, and prove able to manage this complexity in a way that reduces rather than increases human pain, fear and hopelessness – those capable of respecting people with different perceptions, and bringing them together. The SLMM will close its operation at 1900 hrs today.

To the people of Sri Lanka; Thank you and farewell

Colombo, 16 January 2008
Lars J Solvberg
Major General
Head of Mission
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission

 

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