Ban "major hurdle" to talks - LTTE

[TamilNet, Friday, 18 May 2001, 09:24 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers said in a statement from Friday that Sri Lanka's ban on their organisation "has become the major hurdle for the initiation of peace talks" out of three factors as pre-requisite necessary steps, the other two being "removing the economic blockade in the Tamil homeland [and] declaring of an indefinite cease-fire". Giving details of the discussions between the Norwegian delegation and members of the LTTE's Central committee, the movement said in a statement from the Vanni Secreterait that "The international community should understand that we cannot participate in peace talks as an illegal, criminal entity with a distorted false label as 'terrorists'."

The full text of the press release follows:

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has called for a stable cessation of hostilities and the lifting of the ban on the organisation as necessary steps for the commencement of the peace negotiations with the Sri Lankan Government. This call was made by Tamil Chelvan, the head of the LTTE's political section, when he met the Norwegian peace delegates in Vanni yesterday.

The Norwegian delegates comprising of Mr. Erik Solheim, the Special Envoy for Sri Lanka, Mr. Jon Westborg, the Norwegian Ambassador in Colombo, Ms. Kjersti Tromsdal, an executive officer of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry met the LTTE delegates in Mallawi yesterday. The talks lasted for five hours from 3p.m to 8p.m. The LTTE delegates consisted of Mr. Tamil Chelvan, the head of the political section, two other Central Committee members Mr. Nadesan and Tamilenthi, the head of the political administration Mr. Thangan, and two other officials of the political wing Mr. Pulithevan and Mr. George.

Explaining the position of the LTTE with regard to peace talks Mr. Tamil Chelvan posited three factors as pre-requisite necessary steps to create a stable foundation for political negotiations. Removing the economic blockade in the Tamil homeland, declaring an indefinite cease-fire and the lifting of the ban on the LTTE are the essential elements, he told the Norwegian facilitators. The proscription of the Liberation Tigers in Sri Lanka has become the major hurdle for the initiation of peace talks and the LTTE would never take part in the talks as a banned, illegal, terrorist organisation, Mr. Tamil Chelvan declared.

"It is wrong to assume the LTTE is deliberately procrastinating the peace talks. We always requested the Sri Lankan State to create a congenial climate conducive for talks. We have consistently pleaded for the removal of the blockade on food, medicine and other essential items in Tamil areas and create a condition of normalcy. We have always insisted that we cannot participate in peace negotiations while engaging in a bloody war. Furthermore, we wish to enterĘpolitical negotiations with Sri Lanka as the authentic, legitimate representatives of our people for which the proscription on our organisation should be lifted. These are not demands or preconditions for talks but rather pre-requisite necessary steps to create the very foundation for political negotiations. The international community should understand that we cannot participate in peace talks as an illegal, criminal entity with a distorted false label as 'terrorists'. Our liberation movement cannot be equated with other rebel groups who participated in peace talks as proscribed organisations. We have fought a liberation war for more than two decades and have a standard conventional army and a mass of territory under our administrative control. The historical conditions of our struggle are unique and cannot be compared to IRA, PLO and other rebel groups in northeast India. It is the collective aspiration of our people that the ban on our liberation organisation should be lifted. If Sri Lanka wants peace and a permanent resolution of the ethnic conflict, it should not hesitate to remove the ban as the Tamil peopleís demand", Mr. Tamil Chelvan explained to the Norwegian delegates.

The Norwegian proposal of the 'Memorandum of Understanding' was also discussed. The LTTE delegates suggested certain alterations in the document. The Tamil Tigers also emphasised the importance of cease-fire for the implementation of the MOU and for the commencement of talks. No agreement was reached at this discussion. Both parties agreed to continue the deliberations at a later date. The Norwegian delegates left for Colombo early in this morning.

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