A Background for Our Appeal

[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 November 2002, 16:45 GMT]
Behind us are 19 years of violent conflict. A conflict that has left in its wake more than 60,000 persons killed and several times that crippled and maimed. It has resulted in human rights violations and destruction of social and economic infrastructure. Around us are minefields, devastated homes, neglected agricultural land, damaged infrastructure, destroyed production equipment and ruined factories.

The above is presented with no pride, nor with the aim of seeking pity, but in an attempt to describe reality to ourselves and the international community.

While the above is reality, so is the fact that even in this town we are surrounded by individuals travelling, transporting and working to bring – to the best of their resources and ability – some normalcy back to their devastated lives. This is encouraging since we know that the people all over the region are willing to demonstrate the same resilience and initiative given a minimum of opportunity.

Encouraging is also the development in the peace process – of which this committee is an integral part.

The conflict in Sri Lanka unfolded from inequity in distribution of power leading to inequality in distribution of resources and opportunities. This was a major cause for the war that has resulted in a protracted and devastating armed conflict.

Through the on-going peace process, it is the aim of the Parties to seek a negotiated political settlement to the ethnic conflict in the island and to bring to an end the destruction of life and devastation of property. It is now a time when one should turn to meeting the needs of the people and recreating a sense of equality among, and concern for the entire population of the island.

To re-establish some degree of normalcy for the entire population was a central element in the cease-fire entered into between the LTTE and the GOSL in February this year. The cease-fire is holding. We do not pretend that it is flawless. Lessons have been learned, and are still being learned on both sides of the divide. But the guns were silenced; contact was established among long-parted families; goods and services flowed into hitherto restricted areas; security barriers were demolished; schools and religious places were vacated by security forces; and people could return to their livelihood.

With the assistance of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) the above changes have been followed by direct contacts in order to resolve practical problems and avoid a return to arms.

Finally, in September the first political negotiations towards a settlement of the conflict took place. The people of the region sensed a ray of hope that a more lasting peace would dawn.

During the two first rounds of talks in Thailand the Parties have demonstrated an unprecedented level of resolve to co-operate in order to find a way towards this goal. The pragmatic and conciliatory approaches adopted by the Parties have facilitated the progress of the peace process and avoided breakdown pitfalls. Committees are operational, in order to reduce tension, facilitate return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and in identifying models of governance and ways of moving the process forward.


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