Convincing donors, Kumaratunge's goal- Thamilchelvan

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 11 May 2005, 00:45 GMT]
Accusing Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunge for not taking constructive steps to establish the Joint Mechanism for post-tsunami reconstruction of NorthEast, Head of the Political Wing of Liberation Tigers (LTTE), S.P Thamilchelvan, in a recent interview with TamilNet, dismissed Ms Kumaratunge's positive statements on the Joint Mechanism as a mere tactic to influence the donors in the forthcoming aid conference to take decisions in her favor, and to attract international assistance.

Translation of the full text of the interview given in Tamil follows:

S. P. ThamilchelvanTamilNet: Do you consider that the international community is handling the issue of the joint mechanism appropriately?
Thamilchelvan: In truth, as far as the Joint Mechanism is concerned, Norway presented a reasonable draft that could be acceptable to both parties. Although the proposal did not satisfy all the requirements of the Tamil people, the leadership of the Liberation Tigers, cognizant of the prevailing desperate humanitarian situation of our people, accepted the proposal. But the matter continues to drag due to the failure of Sri Lanka government to give a favourable response. The Sri Lanka government is creating an environment to slip out of the aid deal by dragging its feet, while stirring up opposition to this proposal in the South. As facilitators Norwegians continue to have faith. But actions of the Sri Lanka government and internal strife among the parties of the ruling coalition do not give us much hope.

Ms Kumaratunge keeps issuing statements on her own without taking constructive steps to establish the joint mechanism. She has done nothing within her own party or with her coalition partners to reach a consensus on the matter. In our view her statements are not practical. We regard her statements as a mere tactic designed to influence donors to take decisions in her favour in the forthcoming aid conference and to attract international assistance.

TamilNet: Do you see possibilities of a joint mechanism established soon?
Thamilchelvan: Peace process was already stalled and was in a hopeless state. Tsunami created a window of opportunity to build some trust. Sri Lanka government rejecting and ignoring even these opportunities, lead me to think that an environment now prevails where civilised approaches to finding peaceful solution to the conflict is not possible.

TamilNet: An opinion that the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers are engaged in a shadow conflict is gaining strength. What is your opinion regarding this?
Thamilchelvan: Recent events confirm that the government of Sri Lanka has intensified a shadow war against us. This shadow war is unleashed not only against our fighters but also against intellectuals and journalists. The ceasefire agreement clearly states that paramilitaries working with the Sri Lanka armed forces must be all disarmed and repatriated from the north and east. Yet the shadow conflict has intensified under the present government. Armed paramilitaries are working with the government forces especially in the east. This poses a serious threat to the Cease Fire Agreement, peace process and prevailiing climate of peace.

TamilNet: How is the Government's shadow war manifesting itself ?
Thamilchelvan: As far as the east in concerned, Sri Lanka military intelligence has conducted operations using paramilitaries for a long time. This period brought destruction to east and many civilians were murdered. After losing most of the paramilitary groups, the Sri Lanka military intelligence has now created the ‘Karuna Group’ to conduct subversive operations. The operatives are based either in Sri Lanka military bases or are located very near SLA camps. Local civilians are fully aware of this. We have total control of our areas but the activities of the paramilitaries take place inside SLA controlled areas. We have made several complaints providing credible evidence. Since military intelligence operates with the backing of the Sri Lanka Government there aren't any discernible discord between the two. Sri Lanka armed forces are within the firm command and control of the President. Therefore it is not possible for this campaign by the military intelligence to continue without the approval of the Sri Lanka government and the President.

TamilNet: What other evidence do you have of its planned nature? Do you suspect the JVP has a role?
Thamilchelvan: Sri Lanka army’s conduct is supportive of racist parties like the JVP. The SLA's firing on protesters and killing a Tamil civilian in Batticaloa, attacks on our cadres and attempts to create confusion, all point to an emerging pattern that suggests that these events are planned between the Sri Lanka armed forces and racist parties like the JVP.

TamilNet: JVP is becoming a strong force. Who should take responsibility for this? The Sri Lanka government or the international community?
Thamilchelvan: Responsibility for this lies with the President of Sri Lanka and her government. JVP stated its position from the very start. Yet, Sri Lanka's President embraced JVP as her coalition partner and fostered its growth. I consider her and her government entirely responsible for the growth of JVP. Our people expect the international community to recognize this and take steps to arrest this trend.

TamilNet: How can the shadow war be stopped?
Thamilchelvan: Sri Lanka’s President should show genuine concern for peace. It will be a simple matter to stop the war if is she is prepared to show commitment. Shadow war is being conducted according to her plans; therefore if she is keen to offer a just solution to Tamil people then this would be a small matter for her. The side responsible for violations is the party that can stop the violations.

TamilNet: Political observers say that an ideological war is also being conducted, like a shadow war?
Thamilchelvan: We are well aware of this. We recently visited European and African countries. During the trip we were able to notice misconceptions about us created by the government of Sri Lanka in the international community. We were able to dispel these by presenting the firm and clear stance taken by our people and by our leadership. It was apparent to us that the Sri Lanka government embarked on this exercise only to discredit us and the aspirations of our people, and not out of any interest to gain the international community’s support in formulating a meaningful and lasting solution to the conflict. During the past three years we have been very patient and have taken all measures to achieve peace with sincerity. We worked diligently to create a conducive environment where our people who have suffered 25 years of conflict can receive humanitarian assistance and return to normal life. But this goal remains elusive due to unwillingness to co-operate and lack of conviction of the past and present governments of Sri Lanka.

TamilNet: As part of this ideological war, attempts are being made to stir up trouble through other dimensions of war such as the Liberation Tigers’ aircraft and the Sea Tigers. What is your opinion regarding this?
Thamilchelvan: Our homeland and our people have faced destruction by Sinhala governments and their armed forces over the past 50 years. We have lost more than 80,000 of our people. Hundreds of thousands are displaced in their own homeland. More than a million have fled abroad. We have faced misery and destruction. That is why we were compelled to fight back. Our armed struggle has grown and we have been able to expel the occupying forces from large tracts of our homeland where we have now resettled civilians. We are governing these areas. The entire military infrastructure, whether it is the Sea Tigers, Air Force or others, was created to safeguard and defend our homeland and our people. These were not created to threaten any other nation or people. No one need to be threatened by this.

TamilNet: What pressures are the Tamil people exerting on Liberation Tigers?
Thamilchelvan: Tamil people have lost all trust in the Sri Lanka President. Never before did the Tamils meet such devastating losses to life and property as it was during the reign of madam Chandrika. Dislocation of the entire Tamil population, torture, inhumane embargo on basic necessities, disappearances, and mass graves, all occurred during her tenure in office. Our people continue to be suspicious and harbor hatred of her. When she returned to power they waited to see if she had benefitted from lessons of the past. They were disappointed. Because not only has she dragged her feet on finding a permanent solution to the ethnic conflict but has been cruelly denying our people humanitarian assistance in the wake of the tsunami. While she issues statements on the joint mechanism, she has done nothing practical to make it a possibility. Therefore, the distrust our people had of her has grown. The pressure exerted by our people on our leadership was evident during the recent May Day celebrations. They presented many petitions to our leadership, calling on us to force a solution, as they could not continue waiting for the Sri Lanka government to deliver a meaningful solution.

TamilNet: What will be the consequence if war breaks out?
Thamilchelvan: It would be catastrophic. If a war is thrust on our people they cannot avoid it. If they desire to live with dignity, peace, independence and without persecution in their own homeland, they have to confront and defeat the enemy. Another war will bring large-scale destruction to island of Sri Lanka.


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