'Destruction of LTTE ship is a grave ceasefire violation' - Balasingham

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 12 March 2003, 19:40 GMT]
The interception and destruction of the Liberation Tigers' merchant cargo vessel in international waters by the Sri Lankan Navy is a grave violation of the ceasefire agreement and contravenes international law, Mr. Anton Balasingham, the LTTE's political advisor and chief negotiator, told a delegation of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in Kilinochchi on Wednesday, according to Mr. Balasingham, who spoke to journalists after the meeting.

A five-member delegation of the SLMM, led by its head, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Tryggve Tellefsen, and including the SLMM’s legal expert, participated in the meeting with the LTTE leaders in Kilinochchi, which lasted for two hours.

LTTE SLMM meeting 2

On Tuesday evening, a merchant cargo vessel of the LTTE was attacked and destroyed by the Sri Lanka Navy 220 nautical miles off the Trincomalee coast, in international waters. The SLMM had received the Defense Ministry’s version of the incident in Colombo and visited Kilinochchi to hear the LTTE’s version, sources said.

“Though there is mutual trust and confidence at the conference table, the reality of the situation in the field is very different. The Sri Lanka Army and Navy have taken an uncompromising position,” said Mr. Balasingham. “The army is refusing to leave the people’s lands it occupies. The issue of High Security Zones remains unresolved. Though there is an absence of war, normalcy has not returned. The Sri Lankan security forces are the reason for this.”

“The SL Navy is hell-bent on derailing the peace talks by all means. It is engaged in admitting and infiltrating Indian fishermen into Sri Lankan waters to cut the nets and destroy the boats of local Tamil fishermen so as to deprive their livelihood. We are aware of it, but we are saddened when innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu fall prey to this devious scheme,” Mr. Balasingham said.

Asked about reports of the recalling of LTTE's unarmed political cadres from areas controlled by the SLA, Mr. Balasingham explained that the cadres were recalled so that “we can explain the current situation to them and ensure their safety. They will return to their political work once the tensions ease.”

 

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