No faith in Colombo say Tamil parties
[TamilNet, Thursday, 18 January 2001, 19:47 GMT]
"We doubt that the Sri Lankan government really wants to bring about peace. We have sought the good offices of the international community because we have lost faith in the Sri Lankan government and because we suspect its motives", representatives of Tamil political parties told the ambassadors of Norway and the European Union (EU) in Colombo during discussions Thursday. Senior politicians and MPs of seven Tamil political parties, including the Tamil United Liberation front, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, the National Workers Congress and the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation, took part in the discussions.
The parties met the two ambassadors separately at their missions late Thursday afternoon to impress upon them the need for the international community to persuade the Sri Lankan government to start peace talks with the Liberation Tigers by reciprocating their ceasefire offer.
They told the Norwegian and EU ambassadors that a climate conducive for peace talks could have been created if the Sri Lankan government had responded to the LTTE's unilateral ceasefire; and that, instead, Colombo has begun a military operation against the Tigers.
"The Tigers are now fighting only to defend themselves. Their ceasefire is still in effect. The Norwegian government should therefore pressure Sri Lanka to reciprocate the LTTE's ceasefire even at this stage" the Tamil politicians told Norway's ambassador in Colombo.
The Tamil party representatives pointed out to him that no one can hold peaceful rallies or demonstrations in the north and east; that the army has banned such democratic activities by the people there whereas permission is granted for demonstrations and meetings in Colombo; and that the Jaffna University students' rally had to be held under severe military restrictions on Wednesday.
The Norwegian ambassador told the Tamil parties that it would have been a positive development for the peace process if Colombo had accepted the LTTE' ceasfire.
He observed that his government is involved in the peace process as requested both by the Sri Lankan government and the liberation Tigers and within the parameters defined them; and that Oslo cannot force both parties on certain issues.
The Norwegian peace envoy Mr. Eric Solheim is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka again before January 20 with some positive things for the peace process according to the ambassador.
"Do you all accept the Liberation Tigers? What is your opinion about the government's devolution package?" the EU ambassador asked the Tamil political party representatives who met him later in the afternoon around 5 p.m.
"The Tigers are the only ones who can represent the Tamil people today and can face their problems. We have accepted this. No solution (to the ethnic conflict) that leaves the LTTE out will work. Tamil parties that joined democratic politics face many problems today and have not realized any of their political expectations" the Tamil politicians told the EU ambassador, responding to his question.
They told him that many devolution plans to settle the Tamil question had failed in the past and that the conflict cannot be resolved until the government talks to the LTTE and recognizes the Tamil people's right to self determination.
The EU ambassador said that it would have been good if the Sri Lankan government had responded to the LTTE's ceasefire and that it would have created a situation conducive to peace. He said that EU delegation would be in Sri Lanka next month and will visit Jaffna and meet with the Tamil parties among other things.