TNA urges President to commence talks with LTTE

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 September 2004, 08:00 GMT]
“The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) would strongly urge the Government to commence talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) without delay, on the basis of the Interim Self-Governing Authority proposals of the LTTE. and thereby implement the position enunciated by the President on 10 June, when she met the TNA delegation”, said Mr.R.Sampanthan, TNA parliamentary group leader in a statement made in the parliament Tuesday morning.

The Tamil National Alliance also desires to emphasize that all political forces in the country desirous of taking the peace process forward and sustaining the ceasefire should in a spirit of goodwill work together to achieve this objective, added Mr.Sampanthan in his statement

The full text of the statement follows:-

The Tamil National Alliance fears that the Peace Process faces a severe crisis at the present juncture. The stability of the Cease Fire too is under threat.

It is imperative that the present trend be terminated. In order to take corrective action, an examination of recent developments is relevant.

TNA on Peace TalksThe Tamil people continue to strongly support the peaceful resolution of the Tamil question.

The recent developments, which have impacted adversely on the Peace Process and the Cease Fire, have both political and military dimensions.

It is now clear, that the events that followed the release of the LTTE. proposals for an Interim Self Governing Authority on 31 October 2003 culminating in the dissolution of Parliament, were clearly motivated by the acrimonious and deeply entrenched rivalry for political power, between the two main parties, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party. The excessive power given to the Executive President under a Constitution enacted solely by the United National Party in the teeth of opposition by every other political party enabled an SLFP Executive President to dismiss the UNP government, despite it enjoying a majority in Parliament. The alliance between the SLFP and the JVP - the formation of the UPFA -added fuel to the fire. The JVP has publicly stated that it opposes the steps contemplated both by the President and the Peace Secretariat in regard to the Peace process and campaigns country wide in support of its position.

This is the political dimension that adversely impacts on the Peace Process.

When the LTTE released its proposals, it wanted dates to be fixed for discussions to reach agreement. Dates could not be fixed in view of the developments above referred to. If dates were fixed, an Interim Self-Governing Authority for the North-East within an undivided country, could have become a reality.

The Tamil people have been yearning for autonomy in the North-East for over the past fifty years. The Tamil people have consistently supported this position democratically. The democratic political rights, and the human rights of the Tamil people were flagrantly violated by the Sri Lankan State. The Tamil people were subjected to repeated anti-Tamil pogroms and genocidal attacks. The whole world is aware of this. This was the begining of the denial of good governance, pluralism, human rights, and democracy, and the victims were the Tamil people. They continue to be the victims of such denial at the hands of the Sri Lankan State.

This is the main issue that confronts everyone who desires a resolution of the Tamil question and the dawn of peace in Sri Lanka. To diminish focus on this primary issue would be to miss the Wood for the Trees. The Tamil National Alliance urges members of the International Community not to be unmindful of this reality when it addresses current issues related to the peace process.

The Interim Self-Governing Authority is urgently required to resettle and rehabilitate the several hundreds of thousands of displaced Tamil civilians in their homes and to rebuild the devastated North-East. Large numbers of Tamil civilians have not benefited from the Cease-Fire in the past thirty months. The Tamil people continue to suffer much deprivation and it would be an act of cruelty to expect the Tamil people to continue to suffer.

The quality of works being executed in the North-East under various government agencies is questionable. If this situation continues, it would be an unpardonable waste of funds made available by International Governments and institutions for the benefit of the civilian population in the North-East.

It is the long and bitter experience of the Tamil people, that the Sri Lankan State never keeps its commitments.

Parity of official status was constitutionally given to the Sinhala and Tamil languages more than fifteen years ago. This provision is not observed by the Sri Lankan State. Tamils continue to receive communications from the State only in Sinhala, which is a denial of a constitutional right, causing them much humiliation and grave inconvenience. Tamils continue to be systematically discriminated against in the matter of public sector employment, economic, social and cultural opportunities.

The Tamil people regard an Interim Self Governing Authority, properly functioning in the North-East, as the means to ensure that their immediate needs are addressed. It could also pave the way for a final solution in the North-East and give the Tamils the confidence that such a solution would be properly implemented.

The Tamil people have grave doubts about the sincerity of the Sri Lankan State to grant the Tamils genuine autonomy in the North-East. This thinking is based upon the previous painful experiences of the Tamil people. The position is aggravated by the strident anti-Tamil positions being taken by political forces represented in Parliament, both within and outside the Government.

A surge of spontaneous support from the Tamil people at the last General Elections, gave the Tamil National Alliance an overwhelming mandate for an Interim Self Governing Authority followed by a final negotiated solution.

The pre-eminent representative status accorded to the LTTE in the negotiation process, can also be traced to the past bitter experiences of the Tamil people. Commitments made by the Sri Lankan State to moderate Tamil political leaders were never honoured. The Sri Lankan State believed that the Tamil people could be subjugated by physical force and unleashed violence against the Tamil people. It is the armed struggle and sacrifices of the LTTE that compelled the Sri Lankan State to accept that there could be no military solution and that a negotiated solution had to be arrived at with the LTTE under international facilitation. This is the clear view of the vast majority of the Tamil people. All these factors cumulatively contributed to the Tamil people in the North-East recognizing the LTTE as their sole representatives at the last General Elections.

The failure to take due cognizance of these factual realities would not help further the peace process. It would on the contrary encourage the intransigence of those who are opposed to an acceptable resolution of the Tamil question.

The defection within the LTTE in the Batticaloa/Amparai region is an internal matter of the LTTE.

Despite the defection the Sri Lankan State clearly stated that cease-fire would be maintained and that the peace process would continue. However, sections within the Government, even at Cabinet level, openly allied with the defectors, promoting the defection, so as to prevent any form of resolution. The Tamil people look upon such a role as that of Tamil political mercenaries. The Tamil people are concerned with the resolution of the Tamil question. The role played by such political mercenaries in their view only prolongs the conflict.

Certain events have also strongly suggested that sections of the Armed Forces and Tamil para-military groups which have worked with the Armed Forces, have in collusion with the defectors, carried out attacks against LTTE personnel and also members of civil society suspected of being supportive of the LTTE. There have been killings and counter killings. These events have had a military dimension adversely impacting on the Peace process.

No one wants a return to war. A war would only result in immense destruction for every one. A mere situation of “No War”, however, cannot prolong the deprivation and suffering of the Tamil people. Forces inimical to the Peace process are seeking to prolong this “No War” “No Peace“ situation. They are not concerned about the continuous deprivation and suffering of the Tamil people.

When the Parliamentary Group of the Tamil National Alliance met Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, the President on 10 June 2004, the President unambiguously stated that though she initially preferred talks on the I.S.G.A proposals, along with talks on core issues, (more time being devoted to the former, and lesser time to the latter), she had become more flexible and that she was now prepared to commence talks only on the ISGA proposals, though she had reservations about some of the proposals. She also stated that when agreement is arrived at, in regard to the ISGA, such agreement should be reduced to writing, and that talks should commence on the final solution. We urged that implementation of the agreement on the ISGA should commence, because in the context of our past experiences, we would very much wish to see the implementation of the Government’s commitment in regard to the ISGA. No mention was made to us of any alternative Government proposal in regard to the ISGA.

The Tamil National Alliance desires to emphasize that the approach to the Peace process has to be principled, and cannot be based upon expediency. The Tamil question has remained unresolved because it has been treated like a political football by the main political parties for over the past fifty years. It would be tragic, if after two decades of war, and all that the war has brought about, realization has not yet dawned, that a process lacking in honesty and integrity cannot succeed. Statements attributed to senior members of Government have caused alarm.

It is imperative that the present crisis relating to the peace process be brought to an end. It is primarily the duty of the Sri Lankan State to salvage the process. Remedial action by the Sri Lankan State in regard to its own standards of conduct, in relation to the Peace Process, could bring a healthy turn around in the situation. Apportioning blame to the LTTE on various grounds cannot exculpate the Sri Lankan State from its own serious lapses.

The Tamil National Alliance has taken up with the LTTE the question of child recruitment, which has been a matter of concern. The Tamil National Alliance has been assured by the LTTE that the leadership of the LTTE disapproves of child recruitment. Everyone is aware that the LTTE has been working with the UNICEF to alleviate the position and that progress had been achieved. The Tamil National Alliance will pursue this matter with the LTTE. It must be however mentioned, that the Tamil child in today’s context, particularly from poorer segments of Tamil society, is frequently in a state nearing destitution. The Tamil child has been in every sense, the worst victim of the war. It would be hypocrisy for persons who have vehemently prosecuted the war, bombing and shelling Tamil villages, resulting in thousands of Tamil children being rendered homeless, or for persons who desire to return to war, to advocate the cause of the Tamil child. An Interim Self Governing arrangement that enables Tamil children from poorer segments of society to be better looked after, would contribute immensely to this concern being adequately addressed.

In conclusion the Tamil National Alliance would strongly urge the Government to commence talks with the LTTE without delay, on the basis of the ISGA proposals and thereby implement the position enunciated by the President on 10th June, when she met the Tamil National Alliance delegation.

The Tamil National Alliance also desires to emphasize that all political forces in the country desirous of taking the peace process forward and sustaining the ceasefire should in a spirit of goodwill work together to achieve this objective.”


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