'We are committed to peace' - Balasingham

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 12 March 2003, 00:22 GMT]
The political advisor of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Mr.Anton Balasingham said that the LTTE will not allow the peace process to become a trap to weaken the Liberation Tigers. "Despite provocations and attacks on us we are determined to participate constructively in the peace process. We want to convince the world, particularly the Sinhala people, that we are committed to peace," said Mr.Balasingham addressing a gathering, which followed the opening of the main court complex of the Thamileelam judiciary in Killinochchi Tuesday morning, sources said.

Bala in Kilinochchi
The Liberation Tigers Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Tuesday morning declared open the main court complex of their judiciary in Killinochchi. The head of the LTTE judiciary Mr.E.Pararajasingham, LTTE political advisor, Mr.Anton Balasingham, Head of the Thamileelam Police Service, Mr.P.Nadesan, Head of the LTTE Education Unit, Mr.V.Ilankumaran, Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians Messrs Selvam Adaikalanathan, G.G.Gajendrakumar, Mavai Senathirajah and N.Raviraj were present. A large gathering including lawyers from Jaffna and Vanni attended the function

Balasingham addressing a press briefing in Killinochchi LTTE political secretariat Tuesday after the opening of main court complex, said "We have been demanding the annulment of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), but the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is reluctant to do so. Minister Peiris has indicated that GOSL wants to modify the PTA. However, we will continue to insist that PTA be repealed."

Responding to question regarding the release of Tamil political prisoners now under detention under the PTA, Mr.Balasingham replied, "We have taken up this issue at every meeting with the GOSL. The President has the power to grant amnesty to prisoners. At the minimum, prisoners should be transferred to Tamil areas. We have asked the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to make the interests of the Tamil prisoners as a high priority matter and take actions that will result in release of these innocent victims of PTA."

Bala in Kilinochchi
Answering another question whether the LTTE would harden their stance at the next round of peace talks because of sinking of their merchant vessel, Mr.Balasingham replied in the negative.

He further said that,"ceasefire agreement says that the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) can maintain territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country without fighting the LTTE. We have lost experienced officers of the Sea Tigers in Monday's attack. We have taken serious exception to this attack and consider this as an extremely serious matter that will have far reaching implications in the peace process. We feel that a section of the SLN are under the influence of the President. We have gone to the end of the tether. There is lot of anger and resentment among our cadres over this incident."

"We will never accept the present constitution of Sri Lanka. It never had the endorsement of the Tamil people," Mr.Balasingham stressed.

Referring to the High Security Zone (HSZ) issue Mr.Balasingham said, "We are not asking the Sri Lankan armed forces to withdraw from northeast. What we are saying is that as long as our people are unable to go back to their homes we cannot achieve normalcy that was promised under the ceasefire. The President and the Sri Lanka Army are responsible for the difficulty in restoring normalcy in the northeast. There is peace today without normalcy."

To a question by Tamilnet that whether the LTTE will continue with the peace talks if there is change of government in Colombo, Mr.Anton Balasingham replied, "We won't pull out of the ceasefire even if there is a change in Government. But it might be difficult for us to continue if forces like the JVP, which are opposed to peace, come to power."

 

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