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‘We won a mandate backing the LTTE’

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which consists of 22 Tamil Members of Parliament of the 23 Tamil Members elected to Parliament from the Northeast of Sri Lanka, the areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking people, and as the Party that has consistently polled well over 90% of the Tamil votes cast in the Northeast at consecutive elections, met to consider the Resolution that was recently passed in the European Parliament pertaining to the current situation in Sri Lanka. The TNA wishes to make the following observations: -



1. The conflict between the Tamil Nation and the Sri Lankan State arose because of the systematic refusal of the Sri Lankan State to accommodate Tamil political aspirations to exercise the right to self-determination. All attempts by the Tamil political leadership according to the democratic mandates given by the Tamil people to peacefully arrive at reasonable solutions to evolve a system of government for Sri Lanka that permit the Tamil people to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development in the areas of their historical habitation in the Northeast of Sri Lanka have been consistently, systematically and unilaterally denied by the Sri Lankan State for over 55 years.



2. In turn the Sri Lankan State while pursuing unjust legislative and executive actions against the Tamil people, adopted violent repressive measures to further subjugate the Tamil people and deny them any meaningful part in the governance of the State, particularly in the areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking people that is the Northeast of Sri Lanka.



3. It is in this backdrop that the Tamil National struggle that started seeking self-determination through non-violent intra-state territorial nationalism that in fact explicitly rejected separatism, transformed into separatist nationalism. Even in the case of the latter, Tamil separatist nationalism further transformed from a non-violent struggle to an armed struggle. The TNA wishes to reiterate that the single causative feature that triggered the evolution of the Tamil National struggle has been the intransigence of the Sri Lankan State in its refusal to recognise the Tamil People’s right to self-determination and share power on the one hand, and its violent repression against the initial 30 year non- violent Tamil demands on the other.



4. In the current phase of the Tamil National struggle that has lasted over the last two decades, it is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that has ascended to becoming the predominant politico-military organization commanding the support of the Tamil people. The Tamil people are acutely aware that the current peace process that commenced with the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) in February 2002 arose not as a result of the LTTE being militarily weakened or defeated, but rather as a result of the Sri Lankan State failing to achieve a military solution despite strenuously attempting to do so. In fact it is this reality, coupled with the fact that the LTTE had taken control of substantial territory that comprised the areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking people in the Northeast of Sri Lanka and had successfully established a parallel de-facto State, that compelled the Sri Lankan State to enter into a CFA.



5. Consequently, the current peace process is a reflection of the strategic balance of power that exists between the Sri Lankan State and the LTTE as reflected by the aforestated ground realities. This includes all the military formations possessed by the LTTE, including the Sea Tiger naval wing.



6. It is in full recognition of this reality and the overwhelming support enjoyed by the LTTE amongst the Tamil people, both in Sri Lanka and abroad, that the TNA as a mark of solidarity sought and received a resounding mandate from the Tamil people at consecutive elections recognizing the LTTE as the authentic and sole-representatives of the Tamil people at any peace process. The most recent demonstration of this mandate being the overwhelming victories enjoyed by the TNA at the recently concluded Local Government Bodies elections wherever held in the Northeast of Sri Lanka.



7. The cause of the current crisis in the peace process is the escalating cycle of violence between the LTTE on the one hand, and the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and Paramilitary armed groups on the other. This violence has been characterized by the former head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) as a “shadow war”. Whilst Sri Lanka has been gripped by this violence despite the CFA, this violence has become particularly acute in the past few months since the new administration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed power in November last year.



8. The primary cause of the current violence has been due to the refusal of the Sri Lankan State to implement key provisions of the CFA that obligates the State to disarm and dismantle Paramilitary armed groups in the Northeast of Sri Lanka. On the contrary the Sri Lankan State has been supporting and working with new Paramilitary armed groups in the Northeast of Sri Lanka that have been involved in targeted killings of LTTE members, prominent TNA political leaders including elected parliamentarians, leaders of Tamil Civil Society, Tamil humanitarian workers, and prominent Tamil journalists.



9. Particularly, in the past few months, as several local and international observers, including the SLMM have noted with alarm, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces along with its Paramilitary armed groups have been involved in extra-judicial killings of Tamil civilians. Further, in retaliation for attacks on the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces have carried out punitive aerial bombardments and indiscriminate shelling from land and sea of Tamil civilian residential areas, killing and grievously injuring several Tamil and Muslim civilians, and displacing tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. Large numbers of such persons have fled across the sea to India, and in so doing, there have been several casualties.



10. It was in a very grave situation that the Sri Lankan State and the LTTE met in Geneva in February this year and agreed to the full implementation of the CFA by both parties. The Sri Lankan State and the LTTE particularly committed themselves to taking all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no intimidation, acts of violence, abductions or killings. Further, the LTTE committed itself to taking all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no acts of violence against the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the Police. The Sri Lankan State in turn committed itself to taking all necessary measures in accordance with the CFA to ensure that no armed group or person other that the Government Armed Forces will carry arms or conduct armed operations. The parties also agreed to meet again in Geneva from the 19th to the 21st of April 2006.



11. A close look at the events consequent to the agreements reached in Geneva will clearly show, all hostile acts against the Sri Lankan State Armed Forces and the Police were brought to an end. However, the Government delegation no sooner that they returned to Sri Lanka began to behave in a manner that was disrespectful, and undermined the said agreements. Further to this, the Government also failed to take any action whatsoever to disarm and dismantle the functioning of the Paramilitary armed groups. Contrary to this, the violence and killings by Paramilitary armed groups against the Tamil civilian population and the LTTE escalated many fold. The fact that the Paramilitary armed groups worked together with the Sri Lankan State Armed Forces in all these activities is well known.



12. There can be no doubt that despite the agreements reached in Geneva, the unabated violence by the Sri Lankan State Armed Forces and its Paramilitaries against the LTTE and Tamil civilians, which also included the assassination of Mr. V. Vigneswaran, the prominent TNA member who was to be appointed as a National List Member of Parliament to take the place of the late Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham who was also assassinated by the Sri Lankan State Paramilitary Forces, is what triggered counter-attacks against the Sri Lankan State Armed Forces and Paramilitary groups.



13. As such, recent events more than ever before have demonstrated yet again to the Tamil people that not only are the Sri Lankan State Armed Forces not going to be affording any protection to the Tamil people, but more importantly, the Tamil people in fact need protection from those very same Sri Lankan State Armed Forces. Therefore there is no doubt in the minds of the Tamil people that the LTTE’s military formations is something that is directly linked to the Tamil people’s need for human security and deterrence against repressive measures by the Sri Lankan State Armed Forces.



14. The TNA also points out that though the primary objective of the CFA was the evolution of a peaceful political solution, the Sri Lankan State has never demonstrated a genuine commitment to take forward the political process in a meaningful way. This was amply demonstrated by the deliberate scuttling of the commencement of negotiations on the proposals for an ISGA submitted by the LTTE in 2003, and the abrogation of the agreement between the Sri Lankan State and the LTTE regarding the Post-Tsunami operations Management Structure (P-TOMS). The Sri Lankan State and leading members in the political hierarchy in order to fulfill their personal political ambitions have been more concerned with pacifying Sinhala chauvinism and extremism than with the achievement of progress in the political process. Such attitudes on the part of the Sri Lankan State have raised legitimate concerns about the genuine commitment of the State to peacefully resolve the Tamil question. It is imperative that the frustration caused to the Tamil people and the LTTE by such an attitude on the part of the Sri Lankan State is properly understood.



15. This situation has been exacerbated by (i) the failure on the part of the Sri Lankan State to honestly implement the February Geneva agreement, (ii) the killing of around 200 Tamil civilians in the Northeast since the February Geneva agreement (iii) deliberately impeding the LTTE and complicating its efforts to prepare for the further round of talks. These actions of the Government clearly demonstrate that though the Government verbally reiterates the desire to engage in dialogue with the LTTE, every action of the Government is directed towards thwarting of such dialogue.



In the above background the TNA urges that no action be taken which casts the blame on one side. Such a step can irretrievably harm the legitimate interests of the long-suffering Tamil people. It would also strengthen the hands of Sinhala chauvinists and extremists who oppose a just and honourable resolution of the Tamil question. It also provides an opportunity to the intransigent Sri Lankan State to evade its responsibility to meaningfully move towards progress in the political process.



The TNA on behalf of the Tamil speaking people appeals to the European Union and the International Community for a more even-handed approach.



Signed



R. Sampanthan MP (Leader of the TNA Parliamentary Group)

Mavai Senathirajah MP (ITAK General Secretary)

Suresh Premachandran MP (EPRLF Secretary General)

Selvam Adaikalanathan MP (TELO President)

G. G. Ponnambalam MP (ACTC General Secretary)