Tigers extend unilateral ceasefire
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 23 January 2001, 12:41 GMT]
(CORRECTION) The Liberation Tigers said Tuesday they would extend their unilateral ceasefire by another month, and called on the international community to persuade Sri Lanka to "reciprocate favourably and resume negotiations in a cordial atmosphere of peace and normalcy." The LTTE's unilateral ceasefire was due to expire Wednesday night. The Tigers said they had made the decision "in conformity with the collective will of the Tamil nation which demands peace and also in compliance with the wish of the international community which pleads for a peaceful means of resolving the conflict."
Following if the full text of the press release:
"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in an official statement issued from its headquarters in Vanni, northern Sri Lanka, extended its unilateral cessation of hostilities for another month and called upon the international community to persuade the Sri Lanka government to reciprocate favourably and resume negotiations in a cordial atmosphere of peace and normalcy.
"The LTTE declared a month long cease-fire on 24th December 2000 as a gesture of peace and goodwill for the festive season and called upon Sri Lanka to respond positively. But the Kumaratunga government rejected the LTTE's offer as a "farce" and launched major offensive operations in Jaffna at the cost of heavy casualties. The LTTE strictly observed peace and engaged only in defensive war during the period. The Tiger's self-imposed cessation of hostilities expires at midnight on the 24th January 2001.
"We have decided to extend the cease-fire for another month to prevent the escalation of current hostilities into an all-out war and to provide further space to facilitate the peace effort undertaken by the Norwegian government. Our decision to observe peace for a further period demonstrates our genuine and earnest desire for peace and our sincere commitment to peaceful means of resolving the political conflict. We have taken this decision in conformity with the collective will of the Tamil nation which demands peace and also in compliance with the wish of the international community which pleads for a peaceful means of resolving the conflict", the LTTE's statement declared.
"We are sad and disappointed to note that the Sri Lankan government has rejected our unilateral declaration of cease-fire as a "ruse". The government has not only discredited our genuine gesture of goodwill but also unleashed major offensive operations during the declared period of peace with the intention of provoking us. By its belligerent attitude and its actions the Sinhala regime has demonstrated to the world that it wants to pursue a destructive path of violence and war paying scant regard to the heavy loss of live caused among combatants and civilians', the statement said.
"We wish to re-iterate that our liberation organisation is prepared to enter into peace negotiations when Sri Lanka reciprocates favourably to our unilateral declaration of cease-fire and agrees to implement the Norwegian peace project aimed at the de-escalation of war and the normalisation of civilian life. We again urge the international community, particularly the United States, Great Britain, European Nations and India, to use their diplomatic good offices to persuade Sri Lanka to renounce its hard-line militaristic approach and adopt the path of peace, reconciliation and dialogue", the LTTE's statement declared.
"It is the considered view of the LTTE that the Sri Lanka government's rejection of the unilateral ceasefire declared by the LTTE and its refusal to create congenial conditions for peace talks are aimed at perpetuating the hostilities and conditions of war in the Island to justify its pursuit to have the LTTE proscribed under the British Terrorism Act" the statement pointed out.
"The statement concludes by saying that the LTTE has, through it chief negotiator Mr. Anton Balasingham, informed the Norwegian Special Envoy Mr. Erik Solheim, of its decision to extend the cease-fire and officially requested him to convey the decision to the Sri Lanka Government."