LTTE extends unilateral ceasefire

[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 February 2001, 11:32 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers said Thursday they would extend their unilateral ceasefire by another month, and called on the international community, particularly the United States, Britain, the European Union and India to persuade the Sri Lanka government to reciprocate favourably to its goodwill gesture. "We wish to reiterate that our liberation organisation is prepared to enter into peace negotiations when the Sri Lanka government reciprocates favourably to our unilateral declaration of cease-fire and agrees to implement the Norwegian 'Memorandum of Understanding' aimed at the de-escalation of war and the normalisation of civilian life," the statement said. The LTTE's unilateral ceasefire was due to expire Saturday night.

Following is 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, from 24th February 2001 to 24th March 2001. The organisation has also appealed to the international community, particularly the United States, Britain, European Union and India to persuade the Sri Lanka government to reciprocate favourably to its goodwill gesture and resume negotiations in a cordial atmosphere of peace and normalcy.

The LTTE has been strictly observing a self-imposed truce for the last two months in spite of provocative military operations by the Sri Lankan armed forces. The Tamil Tigers declared a month long cease-fire on the 24th December 2000 as a gesture of peace and goodwill for the festive season and called upon the Government of Sri Lanka to reciprocate positively. But the government of Chandrika Kumaratunga rejected the LTTE's peace offer as a 'political stunt' and launched major offensive operations in the Jaffna peninsula to regain territories at the cost of heavy casualties on both sides. The LTTE strictly observed peace and engaged only in defensive war during the period. To demonstrate its genuine desire for peace the Tamil Tigers extended the unilateral cessation of hostilities for another month from the 24th January 2001 to 24th February 2001.

"We have decided to extend the truce for another month as a gesture of goodwill and to provide further space and time to help to promote the facilitatory peace effort undertaken by the Norwegian Government. In spite of serious military disadvantages in a defensive war, our decision to observe peace for a further period amply demonstrates our serious and sincere commitment to peace and peaceful means of resolving the political conflict. We are determined to offer maximum opportunity to peace efforts because the entire Tamil nation yearns for peace and normalcy. It is the collective aspiration of the Tamil community that the war which has been ravaging our historical homeland for decades should be brought to an end and peace talks commence. There is a growing mass upsurgence in Tamil areas demanding peace and self-determination, in defiance of Sinhala military occupation and repression. It is in compliance with the collective will of our people we are pursuing the path of peace", the LTTE's statement declared.

"We are sad and disappointed to note that the Sri Lanka government has not, as yet, responded positively to our peace gesture. Instead, it had dismissed our self-imposed cessation of hostilities as a political 'gimmick' to cover up our 'military weakness'. Having discredited and rejected our genuine gesture of peace and goodwill, Kumaratunga government has embarked on a massive project to modernise its armed forces with high-tech lethal weapon systems pouring billions of rupees and pushing the country to the brink of economic disaster. By rejecting the LTTE's peace offer and by refusing to endorse the Norwegian project for de-escalation, the Sinhala regime has demonstrated to the world that it is deeply committed to a military option of war and violence callously disregarding the colossal damage it could cause to the life and property of the Tamil civilian masses", the statement said.

"We wish to reiterate that our liberation organisation is prepared to enter into peace negotiations when the Sri Lanka government reciprocates favourably to our unilateral declaration of cease-fire and agrees to implement the Norwegian 'Memorandum of Understanding' aimed at the de-escalation of war and the normalisation of civilian life. At this critical stage we wish to make a fervent appeal to the international community, particularly the Untied States, Great Britain, European nations and India, to use their diplomatic good offices to persuade Sri Lanka to abandon its destructive militaristic approach and adopt the rational path of peace, reconciliation and constructive dialogue", the LTTE's statement declared.

In conclusion, the statement points out that the LTTE's decision to extend the cease-fire has been officially notified to the Norwegian Special Envoy Mr. Erik Solheim with the request to convey the matter immediately to the Sri Lanka government.

 

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