Tigers extend cease-fire, warn Sri Lanka over attacks
[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 March 2001, 11:44 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers Thursday extended their unilateral cease-fire for another month, till April 24, but warned they would resume armed operations if the Sri Lankan government refused to reciprocate and continued military operations against the LTTE. Pointing out that it has not launched any offensive operations either in the north-east or the southern provinces or capital, Colombo, during the three months of its unilateral cease-fire, the LTTE said in a statement that 133 of its fighters had been killed in attacks by the Sri Lankan military in the same period.
The full text of the LTTE's press release follows:
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 March 2001 to 24th April 2001. The organisation also warned the Sri Lankan government that the LTTE reserved the right to terminate its self-imposed truce if the Sinhalese regime refuses to reciprocate positively to the goodwill gesture and continue with hostile armed operations and aerial bombardments.
The Liberation Tigers have been rigidly observing cease-fire for the last three months since Christmas Eve last year in spite of the provocative military operations by the Sri Lankan armed forces and derogatory and dismissive remarks made by the Kumaratunga government. To impress upon the Sri Lankan government and the international community its serious commitment to peace, the Tamil Tigers have been extending the cessation of hostilities on a monthly basis while calling upon the Sinhalese regime to respond positively to its gesture of goodwill. The Government of Chandrika Kumaratunga has been rejecting the LTTEís peace offer as a ëpolitical gimmickí.
ìThe LTTE leadership has decided to extend its self-imposed truce for another month to help to generate a congenial atmosphere of peace and to provide further time and space for the Norwegian facilitatory efforts to bring the parties in conflict to the negotiating table. Our decision to cease all armed hostilities for a further period of time was taken in recognition of the collective aspirations of our people for peace, normalisation of civilian life and negotiations on the basis of self-determinationî, the LTTEís statement declared.
ìWe regret to note that the Government of Kumaratunga has not, as yet, reciprocated favourably to our peace offensive. Rather it has dismissed our positive step as a ëpolitical stuntí to conceal our ëmilitary weaknessí. Taking advantage of our defensive posture under our unilateral cessation of hostilities the Sri Lankan armed forces have been consistently and systematically unleashing armed operations against our fighters. From the Christmas Eve cease-fire until now
133 LTTE fighters have been killed by the Sri Lankan armed forces in various offensive assaults, ambushes, air strikes, artillery bombardments and naval attacks. During these provocations we strictly confined ourselves to a defensive war. Sri Lanka government should accept the fact that the LTTE has not embarked on any offensive military actions in the North-eastern theatre of war, nor has it unleashed any armed operations or violent attacks in Colombo and in the Southern provinces. It is because of our strict observance of cease-fire, there is relative peace and stability in the capital and in the Sinhala south. We note with deep dismay that the Kumaratunga Government has not taken our goodwill gesture seriously in a positive sense but rather ridiculed it as a ëfarceíî, the LTTEís official statement observed.
ìWith the acquisition of new fleets of supersonic bombers from Russia and Israel, the Sri Lankan airforce has been systematically pounding the coastal villages of Mullaitivu and Mannar and has inflicted heavy casualties among poor Tamil fishermen causing massive scale destruction of their dwellings, boats and nets. In an incident yesterday, four civilians were killed and eleven were seriously injured when air force jets indiscriminately bombarded coastal villages of Chundikulam and Mathalan in the Mullaitivu district. We registered our strongest protest to President Kumaratunga through our Norwegian peace envoy over the intensification of aerial bombardment in the Tamil civilian areas. In this context we wish to warn the Sri Lankan government that we reserve the right to terminate our self-imposed truce if it refuses to de-escalate the war and continue with its armed offensive operations including air strikesî, the LTTE declared.
The LTTE has also expressed serious reservations over the foreign policy determinations of the international community particularly the United States, Britain, European nations and India, towards the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. ìBy supporting Sri Lanka with financial and military assistance and by condemning and criminalising the Tamil struggle as a phenomenon of ëinternational terrorismí these international Governments are not in anyway contributing to the promotion of peace and ethnic reconciliation in the island but rather encourage the hardline militaristic approach of a repressive racist regime against the aggrieved and oppressed Tamil nation. It is a tragic paradox that under the cover of eradicating ëinternational terrorismí, the most powerful nations of the world have turned against the most oppressed sections of humanity who are alienated and helpless yet waging a fair, just and legitimate struggle for their emancipationî, the LTTEís statement concluded.