Opposition mounts to lifting of LTTE ban

[TamilNet, Friday, 25 January 2002, 01:54 GMT]
(News Feature) Sri Lanka’s Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP), the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) and the Sinhala right wing MEP, a constituent of the main opposition People’s Alliance (PA) are to jointly campaign against the de-proscription of the Liberation Tigers, The Island newspaper said Friday. The day after Sri Lanka’s newly elected United National Front (UNF) government said “deep thought” should be given to de-proscription, the JVP - the third force in Sri Lankan politics - said that they have initiated talks with the PA to oppose such a move, the paper added.

As the parties vowed a determined campaign, the National Joint Committee which comprises 46 Sinhala nationalist organisations has summoned a meeting of political parties and groups next Tuesday evening to discuss ways and means of opposing the move to de-proscribe the LTTE, the paper further said.

The Island quoted opposition sources as saying they were not prepared to accept the Tamil National Alliance’s (TNA) designation of the LTTE as “only party to represent Tamils” in the future talks with the government. The TNA, which campaigned the December polls on a platform endorsing the Tamil Tigers as the ‘sole representatives’ of the Tamil people and demanding the de-proscription of the LTTE, swept the north and east, securing fifteen seats in Parliament.

The sources told The Island that all parties to these talks agreed that they should work together. The JVP said that they would lead a determined campaign against the de-proscription and also any move to divide the country on ethnic lines.

"We do not oppose talks between the government and the LTTE," the sources said while expressing the belief that de-proscription should not be considered before the group returns to the negotiating table, the position strongly endorsed in Parliament last week by the PA.

Sihala Urumaya General Secretary Tilak Karunaratne said they don’t see eye to eye with the JVP on many issues, but they appreciate the JVP role in the campaign against the de-proscription. "We don’t want to discourage them," he said while pointing out that the Sihala Urumaya, too would do its best to resist the LTTE.

The JVP and MEP in their meeting has agreed that there was an urgent need to bring all nationalist parties and groups under one banner to resist ongoing attempts aimed at get both local and international bans on the LTTE, the sources told The Island.

A senior JVP spokesman said that they have also held talks with representatives of the Jathika Sangha Sabha in this regard. He expressed the belief that the UNP led United National Front [UNP] government would reject the LTTE demand for de-proscription. The Jathika Sangha Sabha has assured the JVP that they too oppose moves detrimental to the interests of the people.

Last Tuesday Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that de-proscription of the LTTE should be seriously considered. “We are not prepared to let go of this last chance for peace. Deep thought is necessary on the local ban of the LTTE in view of this backdrop,” he said.

“We have no right to play around with this last chance we have to achieve peace in Sri Lanka. We also have no right to indulge in narrow political aims making use of the ban,” he cautioned, pointing out the precarious economic situation in Sri Lanka. “The country is near bankruptcy… Never before has the country and our people faced problems of this nature since independence.”

The Liberation Tigers' chief negotiator and political advisor, Mr. Anton Balasingham, Wednesday welcomed the Sri Lankan government's decision to review its proscription of the LTTE so as to pave the way for future negotiations with the organisation.

Contacted by TamilNet over Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe's comments in Parliament Tuesday, Mr. Balasingham said the de-proscription of the LTTE was a long-standing impediment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

"The de-proscription of the LTTE will be a recognition of the legitimacy of the Tamil people's struggle. It is not a concession [by the government] but an acknowledgement of our position as the authentic representatives of the Tamil people," Mr. Balasingham said.


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