SLMM support for Army over HSZs is 'unacceptable' - LTTE
[TamilNet, Friday, 27 December 2002, 15:17 GMT]
The LTTE Friday rejected the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission's justification of the Sri Lanka Army's High Security Zones on the grounds of security as "unacceptable," saying "this adjudication simply reinforces the SLA's position on the illegal military occupation of public property." Responding to a letter sent Thursday by SLMM head, Maj. Gen. Tronde Furuhovde, the LTTE's Chief Negotiator, Mr. Anton Balasingham, said: "This purely militaristic argument to support your thesis on balance of forces, has completely ignored and trivialised the grave humanitarian issue of the displaced population."
The LTTE said the Sri Lanka military's insistence that the LTTE must disarm before displaced people are allowed to resettle in areas occupied by the SLA has "severely undermined our confidence in the peace process and aggravated public frustrations."
The full text of the LTTE's letter to the SLMM follows:
"Dear General Furuhovde,
We have carefully scrutinised the statement released by you yesterday (26.Dec.2002) on the issues of normalisation, de-escalation, resettlement and High Security Zones. Though your evaluation of one-year cease-fire period under the truce agreement has optimistic and positive elements, your comments and value judgements on the security situation in Jaffna are unacceptable to us.
"You are fully aware that the issue of resettling hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons in the Jaffna peninsula has evolved into a formidable humanitarian problem and has become the central problematic in the peace dialogue as well as a major public agitation. The SLA has forcefully usurped the public property to the extent of 30% of landmass of Jaffna and claims the area as 'high security zones'. The belligerent refusal of the SLA to allow IDPs to reclaim their property, you are fully aware, constitutes a serious violation of the human rights and individual freedoms. Furthermore, the SLA has not yet fully implemented its obligations of the cease-fire agreement by vacating from public places and removing restrictions on fishing. Under these circumstances, the hard-line statement issued by the Jaffna military commander General Sarath Fonseka linking the process of de-escalation to the de-commissioning of the our cadres, has severely undermined our confidence in the peace process and aggravated public frustrations.
"What has deeply disillusioned us is your intervention on behalf of the SLMM justifying the continuous existence of the High Security Zones on security grounds. We cannot accept your argument or rather your judgement, that any disturbance of the High Security Zones "will decrease both security and combat potential of the Government forces." This adjudication simply reinforces the SLA's position on the illegal military occupation of public property. This purely militaristic argument to support your thesis on balance of forces, has completely ignored and trivialised the grave humanitarian issue of the displaced population.
"You are aware that the LTTE is not calling for the withdrawal of troops from Jaffna or total dismantling of camps. Rather we suggest the relocation of military positions in built-up civilian areas and settlements to facilitate the resettlement of IDPs. Furthermore, the LTTE cadres are totally disarmed in the military controlled region of Jaffna and therefore cannot pose any serious threat to the military, nor can they cause any disturbance in the balance of forces.
"As far as we are concerned, de-escalation and normalisation are inter-related concepts denoting the process of restoring normal civilian life by reducing the level of intensity of conflict. Your position justifying the intense military occupation of Jaffna depriving the displaced their homes and decent peaceful living is untenable with the political and philosophical principles advocated by you in your statement. You may be aware that High Security Zones in densely populated areas are operating with the sinister motive of using innocent civilians as shields for security cover, a notorious method that cannot be justified under any theory of balance of forces.
"In conclusion we regret to say that the hardline position of the Jaffna army commander and your assessment legitimising High Security Zones have rendered the sub-committee on de-escalation and normalcy as irrelevant and meaningless which has its implications on the functioning of the sub-committee for humanitarian needs, the gains of the historic peace process."