Civilian interests must be upheld - NPC

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 March 2004, 11:35 GMT]
"It is incumbent on the LTTE, government, political party leaders and civil society groups, and international ceasefire monitors to ensure that the ceasefire agreement is not violated by any party. In particular, we call on the government not to abdicate its responsibilities by the civilian population," said the National Peace Council (NPC), in a media release issued in Colombo today.

Full text of the media release follows:

CIVILIAN INTERESTS MUST BE UPHELD IN RESOLVING EASTERN CRISIS


A situation that potentially threatens the peace process has developed in the north east with the unexpected and sudden split in the LTTE caused by the break away of its former eastern commander, Colonel Karuna Amman. The LTTE leadership has relieved its former eastern commander of his post. While the LTTE has claimed that this is the action of a lone individual and that nearly all top eastern leaders are loyal to it, the rebel leader has claimed he has 6,000 eastern cadres who are loyal to him.

The National Peace Council is concerned that precipitate action by any of the parties can lead to a situation of violence that escalates in an unpredictable manner. Reports from the ground in the east show that the people are fearful that the peace they have been enjoying will be lost. This is their primary concern. In addition, telephone calls are being received by Jaffna Tamil staff at Eastern University and businessmen in Batticaloa town that they should also leave. We are informed that many have already left, while others are negotiating for more time to leave. This type of ethnic and regional targeting of civilians is totally unacceptable.

It is incumbent on the LTTE, government, political party leaders and civil society groups, and international ceasefire monitors to ensure that the ceasefire agreement is not violated by any party. In particular, we call on the government not to abdicate its responsibilities by the civilian population. The government needs to increase the visible presence of its security apparatus in government-controlled areas to reassure the civilian population that they have access to protection in the midst of crisis.

The ceasefire agreement between the government and LTTE, is a testament to the value of discussion and compromise in the course of problem solving. The manner in which the LTTE deals with its present challenges will be watched keenly by the people as it will have repercussions on the ceasefire, the peace process and the entire country. We would expect a process of dialogue and compromise, that has proved so successful in the peace process.

Civil society and the international community, who have invested so much in the peace process and in non violent means of conflict resolution, need to make it clear that they stand for the option of problem solving dialogue and a negotiated settlement in the spirit of the peace process. We also appeal to civil society and the international community to take up a firm and principled position that a resort to violence by any party will not be in the larger interests of the people of the east and the rest of the country.

 

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