LTTE accuses Sri Lanka of undermining peace

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 01 May 2001, 09:33 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers in statement issued from their international headquarters in the Vanni Tuesday accused the Government of Sri Lanka of attempting to undermine the peace environment by its irrational and dangerous policy of war and military conquest. "By unleashing a major military offensive against the LTTE's positions in Jaffna, Kumaratunga government has seriously jeopardised the Norwegian peace initiative", the statement said.

Following is the full text of the statement issued by the LTTE headquarters in the Vanni Tuesday:

"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in an official statement issued from its headquarters in Vanni, northern Sri Lanka today, accused the Government of Sri Lanka of attempting to undermine the peace environment by its irrational and dangerous policy of war and military conquest. By unleashing a major military offensive against the LTTE's positions in Jaffna, Kumaratunga government has seriously jeopardised the Norwegian peace initiative, the Tamil Tiger statement declared.

"Responding to a critique made by the Ministry of Information and Media, the LTTE rejected the Government's arguments against the organisation's unilateral cease-fire 'as ridiculous, fallacious and childish; a feeble attempt at international deception and dis-information'.

"With sincerity of purpose, we offered four months of peace to the Sinhala nation in the form of a self-imposed truce. The Government rejected our goodwill gesture as a farce and in turn responded with a four day war that turned out to be a nightmarish bloodbath for its own soldiers; a carnage in which hundreds of innocent Sinhala youth lost their precious lives and thousands sustained injuries. The heavy loss of life and spilling of blood is the price Kumaratunga regime is paying for its absurd policy of war and conquest. This monumental human tragedy could have been avoided if the government responded positively to our peace gesture", the LTTE statement said.

"Following the historic meeting between the Norwegian Peace Envoy and the LTTE leader Mr. Pirabakaran, the Tamil Tigers declared a unilateral cease-fire on Christmas Eve last year as a gesture of goodwill. Ever since the declaration of truce we have been rigorously practising peace by suspending all offensive operations in the north-east and other forms of violent attacks and sabotage in Colombo and in the southern provinces. Yet we openly declared that our combat units guarding the defence lines would resort to defensive war if the Sri Lankan armed force launched offensive attacks against our forces and positions.

"On several occasions, during our self-imposed truce, we were compelled to confront the Sri Lankan forces in defensive war in land assaults, sea battles and aerial strikes. During the last four months the Government forces constantly provoked us not only with offensive operations but also with regular and systematic aerial and artillery bombardments. As we reserve the right to self-defence, we were compelled to respond with our anti-aircraft guns and artillery. These were essentially exercises in self-defence, not violations of our own cease-fire as proclaimed by the Ministry of Information.

"We are not so naive as to abdicate self-defence and embrace self-destruction in the face of a ruthless and merciless enemy, who has vowed to wipe us out from the face of the earth. We exercised self-restraint in spite of constant provocation by the armed forces. It was only when our self-restrained defensive tactics caused unacceptable casualties on our side and posed serious military problems we decided to call-off our self-declared cessation of hostilities.

"The cardinal motive behind our unilateral cease-fire was to create a cordial atmosphere for peace. We waited for four months hoping that the present Government might reciprocate positively for the cause of peace and stability of the island. But to our dismay, the ruling elite in Colombo failed to identify the genuine and positive intentions behind our peace gesture and ridiculed our truce as an exercise in political deception. We offered four months of peace and pleaded with the world governments to prevail upon Sri Lanka to respond positively. It was of no avail. But the Kumaratunga government revealed its true face, the face of war, within a few hours of the termination of our cease-fire, by launching a massive offensive in Jaffna.

"Now, we wish to ask the Minister of Information and Media, who has crafted a lengthy indictment of the LTTE which is full of misinformation and misrepresentation, as to who has 'squandered a valuable opportunity for peace' over the last four months when the Tigers ceased hostilities and waited for a reply from your government. Undeniably it is the Sri Lanka government who destroyed a unique opportunity for peace by invoking the hostilities and by refusing to make peace", the LTTE's statement further said.

"It is now absolutely clear that Kumaratunga Government has not abandoned its notorious policy of 'war for peace' and therefore, well entrenched in a strategy of military aggression and conquest of the Tamil homeland. It is precisely the reason why the Government is opposed to creating conditions of peace before peace talks. It is for this reason Chandrika Kumaratunga has publicly proclaimed that 'goodwill gestures' or 'cease-fires are unnecessary for talks'. On this issue, the position of our liberation organisation has already been clearly stated and well documented. We are opposed to engaging in peace talks while entrapped in a savage war. It is our committed view that there should be a cessation of hostilities between the parties in conflict before the commencement of talks", the Tigers statement declared.

"The Norwegian proposal of the 'Memorandum of Understanding' was intended as a goodwill measure of mutual reciprocity towards de-escalation. The LTTE leadership accepted in principle the original text subjected to Sri Lanka's endorsement when it was presented to us in November last year. But the Sri Lankan Government sat on the document, delayed its response, even denied its existence and lately Mr. Laxman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, made alterations in the title, preamble and the content of the document imposing severe restrictions on essential items. i.e petrol, diesel, cement and iron rods which needed further discussions, clarifications and agreement. It was only a few days ago on the 25.4.01, an amended version of the document was submitted to us for our study and approval. Still, there are issues to be clarified and agreed upon.

"In the meantime, the Government deliberately escalated the conflict by launching a major offensive in Jaffna thereby triggering off the dynamics of a full blown war. This major escalation of the armed conflict, in our view, has created conditions that are, under the present circumstances, incompatible with the Norwegian project for de-escalation. The Sri Lankan government should bear the full responsibility for generating the current hostile situation that has severely undermined the Norwegian peace project and rendered the MOU as a futile exercise.

"The LTTE remains ready to finalise and formalise the Norwegian MOU if the Government recognises it as a practical step towards de-escalation and normalisation of civilian life in the northeast and is prepared to cease all armed hostilities against the LTTE. The MOU, in our view, is a confidence building goodwill measure that helps to defuse tension and hostility and create an atmosphere conducive for talks but is not a swift and hasty step towards the negotiating table as projected by the Ministry of Information. The LTTE has repeatedly and consistently stated that peace negotiations for resolving the ethnic conflict are only possible under the conditions of concrete peace effected by cease-fire with the recognition of the LTTE as the authentic representative organisation of the people of Tamil Eelam", the LTTE's official statement concluded.


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