LTTE rejects army's demand as 'unacceptable and unrealistic'

[TamilNet, Thursday, 26 December 2002, 11:30 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in an official statement released from its headquarters in Killinochchi, northern Sri Lanka today, accused the state's military hierarchy of imposing unacceptable and unrealistic conditions for the resettlement of the internally displaced Tamils in their own homes and villages in Jaffna presently under heavy military occupation.

Rejecting the demand made by the Army Commander of Jaffna that the relaxation of the High Security Zones should be conditional on the disarming of the Tiger cadres, the LTTE's statement blamed the military for placing insurmountable obstacles in the path of peace and normalcy. "Disarming of the LTTE cadres and de-commissioning of their weapons are non-negotiable issues at this stage. These are critical issues linked to the safety and security of the Tamil people. To raise the issue at this stage of the peace process and stipulate it as a condition for the humanitarian task of resettlement has a diabolical motive of disrupting the current peace effort," the statement said.

The following are the extracts of the LTTE's statement:

"The LTTE leadership has critically reviewed the document put forward by the Sri Lanka Army commander of Jaffna, Major General Sarath Foneska, with regards to de-escalation and return to normalcy of civilian life in the Jaffna peninsula which was sent to the LTTE through the SLMM.

The considerable difficulties faced by the large numbers of Tamil people displaced from their homes in Jaffna by Sri Lankan military offensives over the past two decades have been recognised as deep humanitarian concerns by all parties in the peace process. The importance of returning normalcy to the Jaffna peninsula, to expedite the resettlement of the displace people, is also reflected in the specific obligations in the cease-fire agreement signed by the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE in February 2002. Regrettably, to date, these aspects of the cease-fire agreement have not been fully implemented by the Sri Lankan military. The limited progress in this regard has been made with great reluctance on the part of the military and under considerable public and international pressure.

The issue of restoring normalcy has also been taken up repeatedly in the direct negotiations between the LTTE and the GOSL in Thailand and Norway. The resulting formation of two sub-committees, the Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN) and Sub-committee on De-Escalation and Normalisation (SDN) were motivated by the urgent need to quickly address this problem.

Having carefully studied General Fonseka's document, it is quite clear that the Sri Lanka military is simply not prepared to ease urgent existential problems of the people of Jaffna. In fact, these problems have been trivialised as secondary to the security forces' own comfort and concerns. Furthermore, apart from the belligerent and hostile tone of its document, the SLA is reducing the considerable difficulties faced by the people of Jaffna to the question of whether political benefits that may or may not accrue to the LTTE should be permitted.

Most importantly, the SLA is now making its adherence to the normalisation aspects of the standing cease-fire agreement and the subsequent agreements reached by the LTTE and the GOSL at the direct talks, conditional on the LTTE's disarming of its cadres and decommissioning of its weapons. These conditions are unacceptable and unrealistic.

Inevitably, the SLA's refusal to honour the commitments already reached between the GOSL and the LTTE seriously undermines the ongoing peace process. The step-by-step approach hitherto adopted by all parties is intended to build confidence on both sides. As such, the SLA's refusal to honour the agreements already reached considerably weakens this confidence . In particular, the Sub-Committee on De-Escalation and Normalisation is rendered irrelevant by the SLA's new conditions for de-escalation. The SDN was formed specifically to work out the details of returning civilian homes and properties presently occupied by the military to their rightful owners. As such, and as long as the SLA insists on its unacceptable demands that the LTTE must disarm and decommission its heavy weapons, there is no purpose to be served by further meetings of the SDN. We also point out that the SLA's reluctance to permit the resettlement of civilians in areas it has occupied and demarcated as High Security Zones also hampers the functioning of the Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs.

It is quite clear that the Sri Lankan Army is opposed to the peace process and its adopting a hardline positioning full awareness of the negative impact this will have on efforts to resolve the conflict in Sri Lanka. As such, while refusing to honour its obligations under the cease-fire agreement and subsequent committees made by the Sri Lanka government, is now making the easing the difficulties of the people of Jaffna conditional on unacceptable demands on the LTTE."

 

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