Sri Lanka's decision seriously threatens peace talks: LTTE

[TamilNet, Monday, 28 May 2001, 09:13 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers Monday criticised the Sri Lankan government's refusal Saturday to lift the proscription of their organisation and said this had "seriously jeopardised" the prospects for peace talks. Expressing regret and dismay over Sri Lanka's decision in a statement issued from its Vanni headquarters, the LTTE leadership called upon the government to reconsider its position for the sake of peace and ethnic reconciliation. "If the Government adopts a hard-line position and refuses to review its decision on proscription, then it should bear full and total responsibility for the collapse of the peace efforts and the serious consequences that might arise from its decision," the Tigers warned.

The full text of the press release follows:

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a press release issued from its headquarters in Vanni, northern Sri Lanka today, blamed the Government of Chandrika Kumaratunga for rejecting its call for lifting the proscription on the organisation to facilitate the peace talks. The government's decision has seriously jeopardised the prospects of peace talks and negotiated political settlement, the LTTE's statement said.

Expressing regret and dismay over Sri Lanka's decision, the LTTE leadership called upon the Kumaratunga government to reconsider its position for the sake of peace and ethnic reconciliation. "If the Government adopts a hard-line position and refuses to review its decision on proscription, then it should bear full and total responsibility for the collapse of the peace efforts and the serious consequences that might arise from its decision", the Tamil Tigers warned.

"We have demonstrated to the world our genuine desire and commitment to peace by our self-imposed cessation of hostilities that lasted for more than four months. But the Sri Lankan government consistently refused to reciprocate positively to our goodwill gesture. It was the Government which launched a massive offensive onslaught on our forces and positions in southern Jaffna just a few hours after the termination of our cease-fire thereby causing a bloodbath on its own troops and destroying the congenial environment of peace and goodwill created by the LTTE. Furthermore, it was the Government troops who made an assassination attempt on the LTTE political wing leader Mr. Tamil Chelvan in Vanni on his mission to peace. Finally, it is the Government that has now rejected our suggestions for creating peace, normalcy and goodwill as unacceptable 'pre-conditions'. It is undeniably the Kumaratunga Government that has squandered the unique opportunities for peace and hindered the commencement of talks", the LTTE's statement said.

"As our leader Mr. V.Pirabakaran stated in his Heroes' Day speech in November last year, the LTTE was not imposing any pre-conditions for peace talks. Nor are we stipulating any impossible demands. What we suggest are acceptable practical proposals of goodwill measures to create a better and stable environment conducive for peace negotiations. Our request for cessation of armed hostilities prior to peace talks is fair, logical and rational since it is absurd to engage in peace talks while killing each other in a bloody war. Our request for the removal of the embargo on food, medicine and other essential items vital for life, is a humanitarian plea made for the purpose of alleviating the extreme hardships of our people facing an economic genocide. It is on this humanitarian issue the Norwegian facilitators have submitted a proposal for the parties in conflict to consider. Our call for lifting of the proscription is made with the purpose of enabling us to participate in the peace talks as legitimate representatives of our people, as co-partners in constructive engagement. The LTTE has on several occasions raised the question of de-proscription with the Norwegian peace envoy Mr. Solheim when he met our chief negotiator Mr. Anton Balasingham in London. Mr. Balasingham has also made statements on public forums as well as in the media to the effect that the lifting of the ban is urgent and crucial for peace negotiations. We cannot participate in the peace talks as an illegal and criminal entity with a 'terrorist' label. We are the sole legitimate representatives of the people of Tamil Eelam. In the past, we have engaged in peace talks with Sri Lanka, in Thimpu, in Colombo and in Jaffna without the 'terrorist' label. Therefore, it is fair and reasonable on our part to seek recognition of our legitimate status as the representative political organisation of our people before the commencement of political talks. The talks, as well as the product of the talks, will have no credibility or validity if they are held between incompatible, unequal actors; between the so-called legal government and a condemned illegal entity. It is wrong to assume that we are imposing impossible demands to prevent the commencement of peace talks. On the contrary we have suggested these proposals as necessary and urgent steps to help to facilitate and promote the peace process. If the Government is sincerely and seriously committed to peace, it could de-escalate the war, remove the economic strangulation of the North and de-proscribe our organisation", the statement observed. 

"In an official statement the Government has argued that the LTTE deserved to be designated as a 'terrorist organisation' because it has committed 'unparalleled atrocities'. In this context, we wish to pose a pertinent question to Kumaratunga government and particularly to Mr. Kadirgamar who is reported to be the author of the government document and the chief inquisitor behind the anti-terrorist campaign. How can we label the Sinhala State, represented by successive Governments including the present one, that has committed unparalleled atrocities and unpardonable war crimes against the Tamils amounting to genocide. It is well documented by international human rights organisations that more than 70,000 Tamil civilians have perished in various atrocities, massacres, anti-Tamil pogroms, military offensive assaults, naval attacks, aerial bombardments, search and destroy operations etc. by the co-ordinated efforts of the Sinhala armed forces, police, politicians, Buddhists priests and Sinhala thugs. To list the instances and episodes of this barbaric history would run into hundreds of pages of chilling stories of terror and brutality. How can we label this state that has been practising blatant genocide in the name of Sinhala heritage and Buddhist enlightenment. Undeniably it is none other than a terrorist state and its acts can only be designated as state terrorism. It is against this state terrorist violence that our liberation organisation has been fighting for the last two decades. Our armed resistance campaign is primarily aimed at protecting our land and our people from Sinhala state terrorist oppression and aggression. Our armed resistance is none other than reactive violence to state terrorism. The Tamil struggle cannot be categorised as a phenomenon of terrorism. It is a struggle for self-preservation based on the inalienable right to existence. The Sri Lankan state has been conducting a global disinformation campaign branding the Tamil resistance as 'international terrorism' in an effort to cover-up its own crimes of state terror. It is precisely for this reason that the Kumaratunga government refuses to remove the label of 'terrorism' on our liberation organisation", the LTTE's statement explained.

In conclusion the LTTE calls upon the international community to persuade the Government of Chandrika Kumaratunga to recognise the LTTE as the authentic and legitimate representative organisation of the Tamil people by lifting the proscription and paving the way for the Norwegian initiated peace process.


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