Tigers say Colombo bent on war, call off ceasefire

[TamilNet, Monday, 23 April 2001, 14:03 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in an official statement issued from its headquarters in Vanni, northern Sri Lanka, stated that the organisation had decided not to extend its unilaterally declared cease-fire that expires at midnight on the 24th April 2001. "We are compelled to make this painful decision as a consequence of the hard-line, intransigent attitude of the Sri Lankan government which has not only refused to reciprocate positively to our peace gesture but intensified land, sea and air attacks causing heavy casualties on our side. It has become impossible to contain the military assaults of the enemy with our self-restrained defensive tactics without resorting to counter-offensive operations. Under such dangerous conditions we can no longer sustain our self-imposed truce which the enemy has been exploiting to its own military advantage", the LTTE's statement said.

The text of the statement follows:

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in an official statement issued from its headquarters in Vanni, northern Sri Lanka, stated that the organisation had decided not to extend its unilaterally declared cease-fire that expires at midnight on the 24th April 2001.

"We are compelled to make this painful decision as a consequence of the hard-line, intransigent attitude of the Sri Lankan government which has not only refused to reciprocate positively to our peace gesture but intensified land, sea and air attacks causing heavy casualties on our side. It has become impossible to contain the military assaults of the enemy with our self-restrained defensive tactics without resorting to counter-offensive operations. Under such dangerous conditions we can no longer sustain our self-imposed truce which the enemy has been exploiting to its own military advantage", the LTTE's statement declared.

The Tamil Tigers unilaterally declared a month long cease-fire on Christmas Eve (24th December) last year as a gesture of peace and goodwill and has been extending the truce on a monthly basis for the last four months until 24th April this year. The Sri Lanka government of Chandrika Kumaratunga consistently rejected the LTTE's offer as a 'political stunt' and continued with offensive operations with intense naval and aerial assaults provoking the Tigers to the maximum.

"Our repeated plea to the international community, particularly the United States, Britain, European nations and India to use their diplomatic good offices to persuade Sri Lanka to reciprocate positively to our peace gesture was of no avail. Instead of commending and promoting our peace offensive some international Government's have imposed proscription and other restrictions against us whereas the other party in conflict (Sri Lankan State) is being provided with financial assistance, military aid and training facilities thereby encouraging our enemy to adopt a hard-line militaristic approach", the LTTE's statement regretted.

"During the last four months of our self-imposed cease-fire we suffered serious set-backs militarily loosing strategically important territory in the Jaffna Peninsula and suffering substantial casualties. Over 160 cadres have been killed and 400 injured. Civilian settlements of the coastal villages of Mullaitivu and Trincomalee have been subjected to regular and systematic aerial bombardments that caused heavy civilian casualties and massive property damage. Though the LTTE has been strictly and rigorously observing cessation of hostilities, the Sri Lanka armed forces have been relentlessly engaged in hostile military operations to frustrate and demoralise our fighters. Furthermore, Sri Lanka government has been importing lethal weapon systems and boosting up its navy and Airforce with the objective of strengthening and modernising its armed forces in preparation for an all-out war", the statement said.

"On our part we have co-operated in every possible way with the Norwegian Government in their facilitatory peace efforts. Our cease-fire for the last four months was intended to create a congenial atmosphere conducive for talks. By observing peace we did implement the obligations of the Norwegian 'Memorandum of Understanding' by suspending all forms of armed operations and violent attacks in Colombo and in the southern provinces. The Sri Lanka government refused to allow the free flow of essential items into Vanni, and therefore deliberately delayed the Norwegian initiative. While our unilateral cease-fire provided the basis for hope and optimism and brought four months of peace and stability to the Sinhala south, the same period has brought war, violence, death and destruction among the Tamils in the north-east. Despite Sri Lanka's public claim of lifting a few banned items, the draconian embargo on food, medicine, fuel and other essential items continued in Vanni subjecting our people to immense suffering. Sri Lanka has been blatantly refusing to reciprocate to our call for de-escalation and normalisation of civilian life in the north-east. Rather, the Sinhala armed forces who control most of the populated cities have intensified military persecution of the civilian masses by arrests, detentions without trial, torture, rape and summary executions. The Kumaratunga government, which is dominated by ultra-nationalist and chauvinistic elements, is not genuinely interested in resolving the ethnic conflict through peaceful means and therefore it has been refusing to take any practical steps towards peace", the statement further said.

"We remain seriously committed to peace and to peacefully resolving the protracted ethnic conflict though we are compelled to withdraw our self-proclaimed cessation of hostilities, which turned out to be a futile exercise as Sri Lanka has failed to recognise its constructive meaning and purpose. Our liberation organisation will continue to support and co-operate in every possible way with the Norwegian government in its untiring and noble effort to bring about peace and negotiated political settlement to the Tamil national conflict", the LTTE's statement concluded.

 

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