Tigers call for "unconditional talks in conducive climate"

[TamilNet, Monday, 27 November 2000, 12:57 GMT]
In his annual Heroes Day speech, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Mr.Velupillai Pirapaharan declared Monday that his organisation is prepared for unconditional peace talks with the Sri Lanka government but insisted on a process of de-escalation of war and the creation of a conducive climate of goodwill and normalcy in the Tamil homeland to facilitate such talks. A translation of Mr. Pirapahran's speech released by the LTTE from its London offices quoted him as saying that by normalcy he meant "the restoration of normal civilian life by removing the economic blockade and other restrictions imposed on the Tamil people".

Following is the full text of the statement released by the International Secretariat of LTTE:

The leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Mr. Velupillai Pirapaharan declared today that his organisation is prepared for unconditional peace talks with the Sri Lanka government but insisted on a process of de-escalation of war and the creation of a conducive climate of goodwill and normalcy in the Tamil homeland to facilitate the talks.

Enunciating the organisation's policy in his annual Heroes' Day speech the Tamil Tiger leader explained that by normalcy he meant the restoration of normal civilian life by removing the economic blockade and other restrictions imposed on the Tamil people.

Mr. Pirapaharan revealed that the Government of Norway has suggested positive proposals as confidence building goodwill measures to be mutually reciprocated by the parties in conflict that would facilitate the process of de-escalation leading to cessation of hostilities. He admitted that the LTTE is seriously considering the proposals. "If the government takes the initiative we will respond positively", the LTTE leader said.

"Our liberation organisation is prepared to participate in negotiations to find a political solution to the ethnic conflict through peaceful means. We are not opposed to peaceful processes of resolving conflicts. Nor are we reluctant to engage in peaceful dialogue. We are seeking a negotiated settlement that would be fair, just, and equitable and that it would satisfy the political aspirations of the Tamil people. I explained this position very clearly when I met the Norwegian peace delegates in Wanni recently. We are not imposing any pre-conditions for peace talks. Yet we insist on the creation of a cordial atmosphere and conditions of normalcy conducive for peace negotiations. It is practically difficult for both the parties who have been involved in a savage and bloody war for the last two decades with mutual animosity and distrust to suddenly enter into a peace process, while continuing hostilities. It is precisely for this reason we propose a process of de-escalation of war leading to cessation of armed hostilities and the creation of a peaceful, cordial environment", Mr. Pirapaharan said.

The LTTE leader further explained that "our call for de-escalation and normalisation of civilian life should not be misinterpreted as pre-conditions. We want the talks to proceed from a stable foundation in a cordial atmosphere of mutual trust so that it could turn out to be a constructive engagement".

"Chandrika's term of office is to continue for the next six years. Whether it is going to be a turbulent period characterised by war and violence or whether peace will prevail during this period depends entirely on the policies to be adopted by Chandrika. This Government has assumed power with the support of the chauvinistic forces. It has achieved victory by indulging in wide-scale violence and massive electoral malpractices. Those who hold important positions in the power structure of this Government are hard-line ultra-nationalists. A treacherous Tamil group who made a mockery of democracy by its electoral violence and fraudulence is also supporting this Government. We have our doubts as to whether this Government, which pathetically depends on Sinhala racists and Tamil traitors for its sustenance, will be able to make any bold decisions to resolve the Tamil national question", the LTTE leader said.

Mr. Pirapaharan also criticised Kumaratunga government for its confused and incoherent policy towards resolving the ethnic conflict. "This Government does not have any coherent policy or a determined approach towards the issues of war and peace and towards the resolution of the ethnic conflict. It constantly makes contradictory statements. Since this government is constituted by different personalities with different views we hear different voices which are confusing. We hear different voices from the President, the Prime Minister and the Army commander; one calling for peace talks with the Tamil Tigers, the other vowing to destroy them and yet another calling for surrender. This government has several tongues each addressing a different audience. Chandrika and Kadirgamar present an amicable picture to the international community while the Prime Minister and Army Commander placate the local chauvinistic forces", the Tiger leader observed.

The following are extracts from Mr. Pirapaharan's statement:

"The Western Governments want peace and a negotiated settlement through peaceful means. They insist that the Tamil conflict cannot be resolved by war. It is precisely for this reason that Chandrika has been making subtle propaganda statements to placate the western nations using the categories of peace, negotiations, devolution and constitutional reforms.

As far as the LTTE and the Tamil people are concerned we do not believe that Chandrika is sincerely committed to peace. We view her as a hard-liner committed to a military solution. The LTTE and the Tamil people are compelled to take this position because of Chandrika's political history for over the last six years and her policy of subjecting our people to military atrocities and economic injustices and her recent measures mobilising the country for war. The colossal sums allocated for military spending, the procurement of massive scale military hardware, the continuous recruitment for the armed forces and the witch-hunting of the army deserters clearly demonstrate the fact that Chandrika is a militaristic hard-liner committed to strengthening the military machine for war.

Chandrika's inconsistency and confused approach to the Tamil ethnic conflict can be best discerned if one analyses her policy statement on the 9th of this month at the opening of the first session of Parliament. Tracing the history of the ethnic conflict, Chandrika agrees that injustice has been done to the Tamils for the last 50 years. Without making direct reference to the Tamils she used the general category 'minority communities'. To quote her in this context: "The real cause of the ethnic crisis is the minority communities have not had a fair or reasonable opportunity to share in the political, social and economic power structure of this country". The strange aspect of this exposition is that Chandrika fails to answer the questions as to why, how and who did this injustice to the Tamils. She shifts the entire blame onto foreign colonialism for all injustices done to the Tamil people. Chandrika's thesis is that existing Sri Lankan state system emanated from essentially colonial power structure "that does not suit in anyway the prevailing conditions in our society" and therefore failed to provide justice and fair play to the 'minority communities'. In this elucidation the cruel history of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinistic oppression against the Tamil people is skilfully suppressed. The role of Chandrika's parents in this history of oppression is also covered up. This attempt to link the racist oppression against the Tamils to constitutional systems and shift the entire blame to foreign colonialism is incredible and preposterous.

It is a historical fact that the Tamils lost their sovereignty over their homeland as a consequence of foreign colonial penetration. But a calculated systematic oppression against the Tamil nation began soon after the island of Sri Lanka gained independence from British colonialism. Sinhala-Buddhist racism was the main perpetrator of this oppression. The Sinhala-Buddhist racist ideology, with its roots buried in Sri Lankan Buddhism, has perversely spread throughout the Sinhala social formation and penetrated deep into the Sinhala political system. The constitutions that were made by Sinhala politicians are nothing but institutional forms of this ideology. Therefore, the culprit behind the tyrannical oppression of the Tamils is Sinhala Buddhist racism not the British colonial thought system as Chandrika assumes.

The political struggles launched by the Tamils against the Sinhala racist oppression in the early stages took the form of non-violent agitation which later transformed into an armed resistance campaign and finally assumed the dimension of an all -out war. For more than twenty years a state of war has existed between the Tamil Tigers, the liberation army of the Tamils and the Sinhala State. As a nation entitled to the right to self-determination our people reserve the right to defend themselves by armed struggle against State oppression of genocidal proportions. Therefore, Tamil Eelam war is conducted within the norms of International Humanitarian Law pertaining to armed conflict. But the Sri Lanka government has been deliberately distorting the nature of this war and its evolutionary historical background and debasing it as a phenomenon of 'terrorism'. Commenting on the armed conflict in her recent policy statement Chandrika described the war as a 'consequence of the ethnic conflict'. In the same statement she also categorises the war as a form of 'armed terrorism'. It is the same tongue that defines the war as a manifestation of ethnic conflict and also as 'armed terrorism'. It is the same Chandrika who proclaims that ethnic conflict will be resolved by peaceful means and also calls upon the Sinhala people to unite to annihilate terrorism by war. It is in the realm of war that Chandrika government makes the most confusing statements distorting the reality of the Tamil armed struggle against State oppression as a form of 'terrorism' thereby totally misrepresenting the ethnic conflict to the Sinhala people and the world. Tamil Eelam war is the liberation struggle of the oppressed Tamil people. The Sinhala ruling elites are refusing to accept this stark political reality. This denial of truth, this refusal to face reality is the stumbling block to finding a political resolution to the conflict through peaceful means.

Political negotiations are not unfamiliar to the Tamil people. Our liberation movement as well as the Tamil leadership before us had negotiations with the Sinhalese on several occasions. From the time of the Banda-Chelva Pact there has been peace talks over the last several decades under different historical conjunctures, under different compulsions. But all these talks have failed to resolve the Tamil problem. Instead the conflict has become more complex and finally transformed into an all-out war. The main reason for this unfortunate situation is the refusal of the Sinhala nation to recognise the fundamentals of the Tamil conflict as well as the political aspirations of the Tamils. If a permanent political solution is to be achieved by peaceful means, the Sinhala nation has to accept certain basic truths about the Tamil people and understand their basic aspirations.

The Tamils of Eelam have a unique ethnic identity. They are a community of people constituted as a national formation experiencing a national consciousness of their own. They have their own lands; a historically constituted territory which is their homeland. Our people desire only want thing. They want to live happily in peace in their own lands without being dominated or harassed by others. The deepest aspiration of our people is to live in dignity in a political environment where they could rule themselves. The Sinhalese should try to understand the Tamil aspirations. It is on the basis of this understanding a just and permanent solution could be built up.

We have our doubts as to whether Chandrika's government will do justice to the Tamils on the basis of understanding the fundamentals of the Tamil question. The outbreak of racist barbarism against the Tamils in the south, the hegemonic role of the chauvinistic elements in the power structure of the State, the continuous militarisation of the Sinhala society, the anti-Tamil attitude of the Maha Sangha, the Government's commitment to the military option; all these factors cast doubt as to whether the Tamil national question could be resolved by peaceful means. Furthermore, certain irrational measures adopted by Chandrika's government also make the resolution of the Tamil question difficult. In a similar manner the earlier Indian government made a historical blunder by crowning Perumal as Chief Minister, Chandrika has also elevated a Tamil quisling group to a high position in the Northeastern administration. By such ridiculous actions this government has not only earned the hostility of the Tamil people but also complicated the ethnic conflict.

The international community is becoming more concerned about the Tamil national conflict and wants the problem to be solved by peaceful means. It is encouraging to note that the conscience of the world has turned towards our plight. We are impressing upon the world that we are not an anyway opposed to peace talks or a negotiated political settlement through peaceful means. The world community has begun to understand the fundamental demands of the Tamils and our position that a cordial environment conducive for peace talks is a pre-requisite. They also understand the forces behind the oppression of the Tamils. It is because of the massive financial aid obtained from donor countries that Sri Lanka can continue this war against the Tamils. Having unleashed a destructive war against the Tamils and having slaughtered a large number of our people, this government has been misleading the international community by claiming that it is engaged in a 'war for peace'. But the world has now begun to realise the ulterior motives behind the war and the Tamil Tigers cannot be vanquished in armed combat and that the Tamil ethnic conflict cannot be resolved by war. Therefore, if Sri Lanka is to be directed towards the path of peace, the reins are in the hands of the international governments who feed the economic needs of the country. We do not believe that Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism, which is growing fast and proliferating at all levels of the Sinhala social structure, will embrace the Tamil people with compassion. If the Sinhala nation fails to redeem itself from the grip of racism and continues its repression against the Tamils, we have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent Tamil State".

Commenting on the ground situation the LTTE leader admitted that he was compelled to delay his advance into Jaffna as a consequence of unilateral intervention by international governments who injected massive military assistance to the Sri Lankan military forces at a crucial time in the battle of Jaffna. "The entire world rushed to help Sri Lanka with emergency military assistance when Chandrika raised the alarm of an impending military disaster claiming that the lives of thirty thousand troops were in danger", Mr. Pirapaharan said. "It was the same world which closed its eyes and observed a studied silence when Jaffna was invaded militarily by the Sri Lankan army and as a consequence a monumental tragedy occurred when half a million Tamils were uprooted and displaced", he observed. "Jaffna does not belong to the Sinhala nation. Jaffna belongs to the people of Jaffna. Sovereignty is not a divine right of a State. Sovereignty derives from the people; it is an inalienable right of a people. It is the people of Jaffna who has sovereign right over the Jaffna peninsula. The Sinhala nation cannot impose its sovereignty over the historically constituted lands of the Tamils by military aggression and occupation. As the liberation army of our people we will not allow our traditional lands to be occupied by alien forces. Whatever the challenges we have to face, regardless of the obstacles we must overcome , whichever force opposes us, our liberation movement is determined to liberate Jaffna", Mr Pirapaharan declared.


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