French diplomats meet TNA foreign affairs committee

[TamilNet, Thursday, 02 September 2004, 09:36 GMT]
“We told France if indeed talks on the ISGA commence, there is a good chance that an agreement could be reached in this matter. We said that this is exactly what the Singhalese are afraid of, as it would mean that they would no longer have a monopoly on power, and their hegemony over the Tamil nation will cease for once and for all time. We also said that it is for this reason that we suspect that the Sri Lankan government t is trying to provoke the LTTE to another war by destabilizing the east and supporting Tamil armed groups," said Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam TNA MP Thursday.

Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam
Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam (Photo: Sunday Leader)
Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham MP and Mr. Ponnambalam of the Tamil National Alliance's Foreign Affairs Committe had discussions with the Deputy head of the French Embassy in Colombo, Mr. Gael de Maisonneuve, and the South Asian Desk Officer of the French Foreign Office Wednesday evening.

During the discussions TNA urged France to prevail on the Sri Lankan government to re-start talks with the Liberation Tigers as the Tamil side is ready to recommence negotiations as soon as possible on the basis of the proposal for an interim authority which the LTTE presented in October last year.

“The meeting was frank and constructive. The French raised some issues, namely the purported killings by the LTTE and child recruitment. They also expressed concern about the lack of progress with regard to the commencement of talks," the TNA Foreign Affairs Committee told TamilNet Thursday.

Joseph Pararajasingham, MP
Speaking about the discussions between the TNA’s foreign affairs committee and the French diplomats, Mr. Ponnambalam said: “We told the French diplomats that soon after the elections, the TNA met with the President and asked her to stop the Sri Lankan military from killing and helping armed Tamil paramilitaries kill LTTE members and Tamil intellectuals supportive of the Tamil struggle. We told them that at that stage there was not one accusation against the LTTE. We also raised these issues with all the diplomatic missions that we met and explained to them that this situation, if allowed to continue, will lead to the breakdown of the CFA. Unfortunately the government or the international community chose to ignore our warnings."

“It is disappointing that only when government intelligence personnel are being targeted that everyone seems to have woken up. We explained to them the LTTE position. The LTTE has said that they have nothing to do with these killings and that these are killings taking place due to infighting amongst paramilitaries. We also explained to them that the LTTE has pointed out that these killings are taking place inside Sri Lankan government controlled areas and that the govt must take preventive measures and expose those who are truly behind these killings as this will prove the innocence of the LTTE."

“We told them that in this backdrop there is no point in accusing the LTTE, and keeping silent about the govt's duplicitous actions, both military and political. We also explained to them how the govt deep penetration forces (DPF) targeted the LTTE even when there were efforts to start a peace process with Mr. Solheim as facilitator and the LTTE having unilaterally declared a ceasefire in December 2000 for 4 months. We said that it was when Mr. Thamilchelvan was on his way to meet Solheim that his convoy was attacked by these DPF in 2000 and that no reasonable person can expect the LTTE to disregard these clear and present dangers, especially with the Chandrika govt in power,” Mr. Ponnambalam told TamilNet.

The TNA explained the difficulty the LTTE faces due to the suffering the children of the NE undergo. The two TNA MPs told the French diplomats that the LTTE was working with UNICEF to address this issue.

“We told them that as members of the TNA, we work at the grass root level and that it is our view that if this problem is to be properly tackled, there must be a systematic effort to create the ground conditions that would offer the suffering children a genuine alternative than seek to join the LTTE. We said that this could only be done by a thoroughly coordinated effort through the establishment of the ISGA. Therefore France and the international community, if they are truly concerned about child rights, should make the ISGA a reality, and must give all support, both financial and others to the ISGA once it is institutionalised," Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham told TamilNet.

“We expressed our disappointment at the recent EU statement on the situation in the northeast, issued after talks with the head of LTTE’s political division in Kilinochchi. We said that this statement was blatantly one sided and was unfair. We explained that such statements only lead us to conclude that those who are behind the drafting of such documents have a hidden political agenda. Such unfair statements also carry no credibility in the eyes of the Tamil people, especially when not a single word has been mentioned about the govt killings, and support for Karuna and other armed Tamil groups, in a blatant attempt to militarily undermine the LTTE. We then explained to them the clear evidence showing the government’s involvement in the killings," said Mr. Ponnambalam.

The TNA MPs also criticized the EU commission's election report as baseless and misleading. They pointed out that the Press Conference given by Mr. Cushnahan was based on the executive summary of the report. “We then asked them to point out any part of the substantive report that allows for the type of conclusions drawn in the executive summary," Mr. Pararajasingham said.

Responding to concerns expressed by the French envoys regarding the delay in restarting the peace talks, the TNA MPs explained to them that it was the govt that is delaying the talks.

“The LTTE told us in our meeting with them two days ago that they are ready to start talks if the govt is prepared to make the ISGA the basis of the negotiations. We explained to them that we are not prepared to consider the Sri Lankan govt’s position that its own proposals should also be made the basis for talks. We said that the govt can make its views known during the talks on the ISGA, and that their views will be considered, but not otherwise. We explained that there is no justifiable reason for the govt delaying talks, since the UNP too has said that it is prepared to extend its support if talks are commenced on the basis of the ISGA. We pointed out that this means that the talks will have a clear majority support in parliament even if the JVP and the JHU oppose it," Mr. Ponnambalam said.

“Therefore we asked France and the rest of the EU and the international community to put heavy pressure on the govt to start talks, and that there was no point in pressurizing us, as we are ready to start even tomorrow, provided that it is only on the basis of the ISGA”, he added.

“In conclusion we reminded France that it is the Tamils who are the aggrieved party in this whole conflict. It is we who have been cheated and denied our rights and aspirations. The Singhalese have never been prepared to share power with us. We also said that we have grave doubts regarding the willingness of the state to negotiate the ISGA in good faith. We said that if indeed talks on the ISGA commence, there is a good chance that an agreement could be reached in this matter."

“We said that this is exactly what the Singhalese are afraid of, as it would mean that they would no longer have a monopoly on power, and their hegemony over the Tamil nation will cease for once and for all time. We also said that it is for this reason that we suspect that the govt is trying to provoke the LTTE to another war by destabilizing the east and supporting Tamil armed groups. As far as the govt is concerned, such a war will have two beneficial effects for them – that it will prevent the Tamil nation from exercising legitimate power and autonomy and that it will also cover up the blatant contradictions within the govt's coalition partners in taking the peace process forward," Mr. Ponnambalam said.


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