LTTE police stations 'not a new phenomena' - Balasingham
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 December 2002, 15:26 GMT]
The LTTE's Police and law and order systems would not extend into areas controlled by the Sri Lankan government while continuing to maintain law and order in Tiger-controlled areas, Mr. Anton Balasingham, the movement's Chief Negotiator and political advisor told reporters in Oslo Tuesday. He was speaking at a press conference held during lunch on the second day of the third round of peace talks between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government.
Extracts from Mr. Balasinghams speech follow:
"We explained that these courts and Police stations have been functional for the last 12 years and that the ground reality is that as a consequence of this war the LTTE has established control over 70 percent of the area in the northeast. There are huge populations here and we have to administer them and for the purpose of maintaining law and order, or rather social order and cohesion we need to have certain institutions. These Police stations have been functioning ever since. Even during President Kumaratunga's government when we had discussions with her these Police stations were operating in Jaffna. I do not know why President Kumaratunga looks upon the Police stations as a threat or a major impediment to the security situation there.
"But as far as we are concerned, I have already given interviews that these Police stations are necessary instruments to maintain law and order because we cannot allow anarchy and social disorder in areas controlled by us. Recently we have given new uniforms and painted the Police stations. This is what we have been doing. We have opened up a couple of Police stations. In the east Col. Karuna will confirm that we have opened a Police station in the Palugamam area in Batticaloa. A few years back we had a Police station in that location and it was closed due to military operation in that region. We are putting up new Police stations and a new law court in Trincomalee. We have assured the government that these Police stations will not cause any threat to the Singhalese people and that we will not interfere with the administration of the government Police system in the government controlled areas. We have assured the Muslim people that we will look after their interests and these Police stations will not be a threat to them.
"Those are the areas which we discussed (with the government delegation). The government is also worried that by some misinformation carried by some media personnel and also by some politicians, the Singhalese people are alarmed whether there is a peace process going on or whether the LTTE is consolidating its position. What I am trying to impress upon you is that these Police stations are not new phenomena and that we have to maintain law and order. When we reach a final settlement - I told you we are looking for a regional autonomous model - we have to have a regional Police. Then this Police can be transformed into a regional Police with the approval of the government and become legitimised at a later stage. Until such time we have to operate with these administrative structures that are essential for maintaining law and order in areas controlled by us.
"I did not renounce the request by the US government to give up violence. What I said is that we have already renounced violence when we signed a truce document with the Sri Lanka government. Since two parties are involved in a war, both parties have to commit themselves to a truce document renouncing armed violence: which we have done! Instead of making a verbal statement that we are going to renounce violence, the most important thing is that we have made a concrete commitment in the form of an armed truce signed by the government and by the LTTE that we will abdicate armed violence. I think this is being monitored by an international team of experts. There is no need to have recourse to violence if the aspirations of our people are met if the political conflict is resolved by political means. What I did not agree with Mr. Armitage is the characterisation of the LTTE's armed struggle as a form of terrorism. There must be a clear distinction here because we are also against violence; we have renounced war and violence in the form of a truce agreement. And we think there is no need to have recourse to violence since we are engaged in a positive process of a peace dialogue. And I think this dialogue would be successful. Therefore we have satisfied the American request more than what they have been demanding. If they demand a verbal renunciation it is absurd because we are not the only party involved in violence. The Sinhala armed forces and the LTTE have been involved in an armed confrontation fore the last two decades and both parties have renounced violence in a proper manner. Hence verbal enunciation that we are abdicating violence has no meaning.
Regarding discussions Tuesday morning with a team of Canadian constitutional experts, he said: "What they are offering us is their expereince in federal and confederal models. We had an extensive discussion. I have outlined what the LTTE thinks about it. Mr. Pirapaharan has come out with the clear statement that the LTTE is prepared to consider favourably a regional autonomous model or a model of self government within united Sri Lanka and that we have to explore the suitable form, whether it is federal or confederal or whatever the regional autonomous model is going to be. We need the advice of resource persons for this.
We have given a framework. All these years what we have said we are fighting for political independence and statehood that if the government gives us an alternative we are prepared to consider. This is the stand taken by the LTTE for the last 20 years. I have been the (LTTE‚s) theoretician; I have been saying this for the last 20 years. This is the first time Mr. Pirapaharan has come out with the statement elaborating what he means by the alternative. The alternative is a regional model which is clearly and very precisely explained in his statement. There is not need for any confusion.
Answering a question on the status of the LTTE‚s law and order system and judiciary in a future political settlement, Mr. Balasingham said "It is too premature at this stage to elaborate on how these two systems can be harmonised. What we envisage is a future model in which this could be discussed in depth and in detail. And both parties have to agree on how this regional Police could function. I do not want to go into details because this is going to be central to the discussions in the coming months".
Answering a question about the position of the paramilitary group EPDP in the island of Delft off Jaffna, he said that the LTTE has already stated are all political parties are free to function in the northeast. He said that the group is operating with arms in the island and that this is against the truce agreement.
"We cannot tell them not to engage in political work there, he said. Mr. Balasingham said that the paramilitary group had been oppressing the people in the island and had been violently blocking other parties, including the TULF from functioning there.
"We have already started discussing core issues. Prof. Pieris and I spent two hours yesterday (Monday). Both of us had discussions with the canadians today on the possible models and systems.
"We have now a space or framework within which we can discuss these matters. As our leader has enunciated we need a regional autonomus model. We have already stated that the Tamils have a historical territory in which they live, a homeland. We are not a minority. We are a nation of people. We have distinct language culture, history and a contiguous territory and also we have the consciousness of a national identity. These are the elements that constitute a nation of people or a national formation ˆ these are the universally accepted elements. We are a national formation and therefore we are entitled to the right of self determination. And as Mr. Pirapaharan has stated this self determination has two aspects, internal and external. We are opting for internal self determination that entails a regional autonomous model. He also says that if the Singhalese people reject our demand for regional autonomy and the conditions of oppression continue then we would be finally pushed to the option of external self determination- that is the right to secede. This (internal self determination) is the category with which are operating now".
He rejected President Chandrika Kumaratunga's call to renegotiate the MOU. "We cannot accept her fears that the MOU will lead to a separate state".
"Don't forget that government institutions are still functioning in areas controlled by the LTTE. We do not interfere with those. We have only taken over the enforcement of law since our armed cadres are confined to barracks. And there we are expanding civil administration. Some day you have to accept a Tamil regional Police force and we have to discuss how it would harmonise with the national system".
Mr. Balasingham paid glowing tribute to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission for the 'wonderful' job they were doing by implementing the MOU. He said that it has prevented major violations.