Book on "Ceasefire 2001-Lessons for the present” released

[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 November 2003, 17:17 GMT]
"The time has come for all the lovers of peace to engage in a serious dialogue by contributing their share in solving this vexed [ethnic] problem by studying the [LTTE's] proposal and arriving at a consensus to implement it,” said Professor S.K.Sitrampalam, Professor of History and Dean for Graduate Studies at the University of Jaffna, addressing the introductory event of the book “ Ceasefire 2001-Lessons for the present” held at the Colombo Sri Lanka Foundation Institute Friday evening, sources said.

“The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is prepared to consider a viable alternative to separation and has submitted their proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) which should be a road map to a final solution," said Prof. Sitrampalam.

The event was organized by the National Peace Council ( NPC). NPC executive committee member, Mr.Nimalan Karthikeyan, handed over the first copy of the book to the former Mass Communications Minister, Mr.Imtiaz Bakeer Markar, and NPC media director, Mr.Jehan Perera, reviewed the book.

The Charge d’Affaires of the European Union in Sri Lanka, Mr.Wouter Wilton, speaking at the event said that the Government of Sri Lanka should take forward the current peace process with the assistance of the facilitators. He appealed to the parties concerned to join hands to take forward the peace process and only then the EU could also extend its full co-operation to the venture.

Minister Mr. Bakeer Markar said that no force should be allowed to derail the peace process, adding the recently formed North-South Journalist association should contribute to the success of the peace process.

Professor Sitrampalam spoke on “Jaffna Then and Now.”

He said, “The time has also come to recognize the fact that Sri Lanka is no more a monolingual state. It is a state with many nationalities. A suitable political structure is necessary to preserve the identity and the security of the nationalities. Human security is equally important as that of the security of the state. Live and let live should be the policy. This is possible only by the self-rule in the region and the shared rule at the center.

“Sri Lanka from early centuries of her recorded history has been a multinational and multi-ethnic society. The study of early state formation and later history shows the role-played by the chieftaincies and regional kingdoms. The policy of a centralized rule embracing the whole island was very seldom realized in view of the difficulties of communication and the absence of an efficient bureaucracy. Gradually the country came to be compartmentalized into two major linguistic regions, Tamils in the present North East region and the Sinhalese in the rest of the island. The coming of colonial powers further perpetuated this process. The credit should go to the Britishers who for the first time brought the two ethnic linguistic nationalities under a single uniform and centralized system of administration of the whole island.

“ However the Tamil linguistic identity of the present North East was recognized by the Britishers while carving out these provinces in the late 19th century. The Kandyans in their proposals submitted before the Donoughmoore Commission later confirmed this. The Communist party of Sri Lanka in their memorandum submitted before the Ceylon National Congress in 1944 claimed that the Tamils of the North East have the right to self-determination. The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact of 1957, the Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam pact of 1965 and finally the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of 1987 in the last century further maintained the Tamil linguistic identity of the present northeast province.

“Hence in solving the ethnic problem we should get away from the concepts like ‘ Bhumiputra’, ‘unitary model of our past’ if we are for the unity of the country it is possible only by recognizing the diversity only. It is in this context only the proposal submitted by the LTTE deserves a serious study. It is needless to add that this is the last opportunity available for sustainable peace within a united Sri Lanka.

“Today the country is divided both militarily and administratively .The need of the hour is to build a nation state in which we have failed since independence. Because of our unitary constitution we have failed in our state making process.”

Professor Sitrampalam told the audience about the current situation in the Jaffna peninsula even after the twenty-month-old ceasefire. “ Of the 450 village (Grama Sevaka) level divisions, 105 divisions are deserted and 52 divisions have been brought under high security zones. 2124 families are still languishing in the welfare camps without basic needs and unable to resettle in their own houses and about 20 thousand internally displaced families are living with friends and relations and in rented homes under difficult conditions.”

He said that 932 civilian houses are still occupied by the army outside the HSZ in the Jaffna district and there are 152 army camps and checkpoints outside the HSZ.

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