LTTE rejects Indian General's terms on HSZs

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 28 January 2003, 08:33 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will not accept recommendations from international military experts that link the "critical humanitarian issue" of resettling internally displaced persons and refugees in Jaffna to disarming of its cadres and de-commissioning of its weapons, the movement's chief negotiator and political strategist, Mr Anton Balasingham, told the Tamil Guardian newspaper Monday. The Tigers "will fiercely oppose and reject any proposal that makes resettlement of refugees conditional upon de-commissioning of LTTE weapons," he said further.

Asked for his comments on the contents of the preliminary report last month by retired Indian military expert, Lt. Gen. Satish Nambiar, which had been leaked to the Colombo media, Mr Balasingham contended that "some elements of his (Nambiar's) assessment were based on false premises and is therefore totally unacceptable."

"There is a total confusion over certain concepts and their intended meanings on the issue of military occupation of civilian settlements in areas characterised as ‘high security zones'," Mr. Balasingham told the London based weekly.

"The concepts of de-escalation and normalisation are confused with de-militarisation and de-mobilisation. In our perception de-escalation and normalisation are inter-related concepts. By de-escalation we mean the gradual and systematic reduction of the level of tension caused by intense military occupation of civilian areas. This tense situation is further exacerbated by civil and social unrest as hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees are denied their right to return to their homes and villages. By normalisation we mean the establishment of conditions of normalcy congenial to free and unconstrained existence. These are the intended meanings of the concepts of de-escalation and normalisation as articulated in the truce document," Mr. Balasingham said.

The LTTE's theoretician explained that the Tigers are not demanding demilitarisation or dismantling of camps or the reduction of troops. "What we are asking the Government of Sri Lanka is to allow our people to return to their homes. It is the unconditional right of our people. The denial by the state of the right of refugees and IDP's to return to their homes under conditions of peace constitutes a gross violation of human rights," Mr Balasingham observed.

"It is interesting to note that General Nambiar's attempt to link the humanitarian problem of resettling the refugees to a militaristic issue of balance of forces giving over-riding precedence to an imaginary security vulnerability of the government troops is clearly reflected in the statements by the Jaffna military commander General Fonseka and the SLMM's chief General Furuhovde," Mr Balasingham said.

"In our view any attempt to connect the return of refugees and IDP's to their own homes in the Jaffna Peninsula to the demobilisation of LTTE's fighting formations confined to barracks in Vanni jungles is illogical and ridiculous. Re-modification of the security system of the so-called ‘high security zones' to facilitate the return of the refugees and displaced is a cardinal obligations of the state. Sri Lanka can seek advice from any international experts without jeopardising its strategic and security concerns. But the LTTE will fiercely oppose and reject any proposal that makes resettlement of refugees conditional upon de-commissioning of LTTE weapons,' the LTTE's chief negotiator said.

Asked about the possible LTTE response if General Nambiar's forthcoming detailed report reiterates similar tough terms and conditions for the relaxation of the high security zones, Mr Balasingham declared that it would be rejected outright without discussion.

"General Nambiar with his wider experience gained through the military operations of the IPKF in the northeast is fully aware of the fierce motivation and commitment of the Tamil Tigers towards the cause of the Tamil people. He should be aware that the LTTE fought a bloody guerrilla campaign against the Indian army on an unfair demand of disarming its cadres by India before the settlement of the Tamil national question. Therefore the Indian general should approach the issue carefully and cautiously and take into consideration the sensibilities of the LTTE as a liberation movement and the humanitarian and security concerns of the Tamil people caught up in the web of Sinhala military occupation," Mr Balasingham further observed.

"The Tigers will not accept any recommendations from anybody that would be prejudicial to the strategic equilibrium enjoyed by the LTTE forces," he said.


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