TULF protests Sri Lanka's ceasefire rejection
[TamilNet, Monday, 25 December 2000, 15:31 GMT]
The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Monday criticised the Sri Lankan government's refusal to reciprocate the LTTE's pledge to unilaterally observe a month-long ceasefire over the festive season. "The vast majority of people would have welcomed the prevalence of peace during the festive season of Christmas, New Year and Thai Pongal", the TULF said. Commenting on the government's insistence that any negotiations take place as fighting continues, the party said "The TULF considers it impractical and also irrational to expect a guerilla force to engage in serious negotiations, while at the same time fighting a fierce war."
The full text of the statement follows.
"Though the government and the LTTE have agreed to enter into a negotiation,to find a just and durable peace to the Tamil national question, largely due to the efforts of Norway; most regrettably negotiations have not commenced as yet.
The prime reason for the failure is the deep mistrust that prevails, which is further fuelled by the continuance of the war.
The government has not responded favorably to the declaration of a month-long cessation of armed hostilities made unilaterally by the LTTE, as a gesture of goodwill. The vast majority of people would have welcomed the prevalence of peace during the festive season of Christmas, New Year and Thai Pongal.
The LTTE's statement also indicated that if the government responded positively, the cessation of armed hostilities for a month could assume the more stable status of a ceasefire. The Government in its response attaches no importance to gestures of goodwill and without drawing a distinction between a cessation of armed hostilities during a period of festivities, and a ceasefire, has stated that it considers a ceasefire as a consequent step when negotiations are progressing satisfactorily.
This is in sharp contrast to the unilateral declaration of "No initiation of Combat Operations" proclaimed by the Government of India in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadhan, which has now been extended unilaterally till Republic Day 2001.
The TULF considers it impractical and also irrational to expect a guerilla force to engage in serious negotiations, while at the same time fighting a fierce war.
Every statement of the Government underscores a deep suspicion about the true intentions of the LTTE. It is the duty of the Government to remember that the Tamil people endeavored over several decades, in a non-violent and peaceful manner, to evolve a just and honorable solution to the Tamil question. It was the failure of successive governments to respond honorably that has resulted in the emergence of the LTTE. All the destruction that is being wrought by the use of sophisticated weapons in the Jaffna peninsula today, is being caused to the Tamil people of Jaffna. Such destruction has never been caused in any other part of this country. It is as bad, if not worse than the destruction caused by civil war, in any other part of the world. This should not continue and must be stopped. It is primarily the Tamil people who are in every sense, the worst affected victims of the continuing war.
Recent history has clearly demonstrated that military victories are ephemeral and only entail loss of more valuable lives and immense destruction. The time has also come for the force of reason for the Reason to prevail over the reason of Arms.
It is the clear view of all right thinking people in this country, including the government, the main opposition party, several other political parties, and it is also the unquivocal view of the international community, that negotiations should take place between the government and the LTTE, and a just durable peace evolved with the co-operation of the main opposition party.
Since neither party is demanding from the other a military concession, which can be regarded as a disadvantage by either side, the TULF strongly urges the Government and the LTTE with the assistance of Norway, to evolve a formula by which serious and meaningful negotiations can commence at the earliest, without undue reliance on an intensification of the military conflict, which can only prolong the war of attrition. Either party defaulting can only be regarded as lacking in the sincerity of purpose to achieve just and durable peace.
The TULF also desires to acknowledge that it was during the period of the Indian involvement that for the first time, much progress was made towards evolving a just solution to the Tamil question., and appeals to India in keeping with its traditional magnanimity and forgiving nature to make its rightful contribution to the evolution of a just and durable peace in Sri Lanka.
The TULF also deplores attempts to stymie the role of the international community, as such attempts cannot by scuttle the negotiation process. For more than half a century, after the country attained independence, we have failed by ourselves to resolve our internal conflict, and unless we have an effective international role to assist us in doing so, the conflict will continue interminably.
This is also the lesson that we have to learn from similar experiences in other parts of the world. The time has certainly come for every one who values just durable peace to face this reality".