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Tamil Nadu calls for ceasefire, Sri Lanka tells LTTE to surrender or be destroyed

Sri Lanka's government rejected the latest a truce offer by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) out of hand demanding they surrender or be destroyed by the ongoing military offensive.

In parliament, Agriculture Minister Maithripala Sirisena repeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa's stance, which has been in place since the government scrapped a 2002 ceasefire in January 2008.

 

"The government will not go for a ceasefire with the LTTE. We will not have any form of discussion with the LTTE. We have already told them to lay down arms and there is no change in our stand," Sirisena told the parliament on Monday, November 10.



The government stand was in response to a statement released by the LTTE political head, B Nadesan, at the weekend stating “there is no hesitation on our side to reiterate our position that we have always wanted a ceasefire.”

 

Nadesan noted that it was the government that unilaterally abrogated the previous ceasefire and claimed that the LTTE was only fighting a “defensive war” thrust upon it by the government.

 

Nadesan statement was, in turn, a response to calls from Tamil Nadu political leaders for India to intervene and bring in place an immediate cessation of hostilities in the neighbouring island.

 

Since the beginning of October Tamil Nadu has witnessed mass protests by political parties, students, lawyers, traders, and cinema artists and technicians in support of Eelam Tamils, demanding the Indian central government put a hold to the genocide of Tamils at the hand of Sri Lanka.

 

As the protests gained momentum and widespread support poured in from the people of Tamil Nadu, the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader and chief minister of Tamil Nadu convened a All Party Meeting on Tuesday October 14.

 

The political parties that attended the meeting passed a resolution demanding the Indian government to withdraw military support for Sri Lanka and request Sri Lanka to announce a ceasefire to enable affected civilians to receive humanitarian assistance.

 

The parties also announced that if the Congress led coalition government in New Delhi failed to intervene to stop the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka within 14 days, the 40 Tamil Nadu members of parliament will resign en masse.

 

As the fourteen days deadline neared, Sri Lanka sent Basil Rajapakse, younger brother and special advisor to the President Mahinda Rajapakse to New Delhi to meet India’s External Affairs Minister, Pranb Mukherjee.

 

According to reports, Rajapakse assured India that Tamils' needs would be met and India had used the talks to convey "its concern at the humanitarian situation" in northern Sri Lanka and had "emphasised the need for unhindered essential relief supplies."

 

Following his meeting with Basil Rajapakse, Pranab Mukherjee made an unscheduled visit to Tamil Nadu for a meeting with Tamil Nadu chief minister Karunanidhi in Chennai.

 

According to media reports the DMK chief had assured Mukhejee that he would not precipitate a crisis for the ruling coalition in New Delhi.

 

After the meeting, asked about the resignation threat, Karunanidhi said Mukherjee had requested him to postpone any decision in this regard as it would lead to a lot of complications. "I will certainly not create problems for the Centre," the chief minister said.

 

Mukherjee in return assured that any material aid provided by Tamil Nadu would be sent to the Tamils in Vanni.

 

However, the key DMK demand — that India ensure a ceasefire — remained unfulfilled and many political parties were dismayed by Karunanidhi backing down on the issue without the central government meeting any of the demands in the resolution or even securing any concrete promise to do so. 

 

Political parties and organisations across the spectrum assailed External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for allegedly using the plight of the suffering Tamil minority in Sri Lanka for political ends.

 

Senior BJP leader Ila Ganeshan said separately: "The threat of the resignation of MPs from parliament was a mere drama aimed at diverting attention of the masses from the urgent issues in Tamil Nadu like the electricity shortage, law and order problems and rising prices. None expected the resignations to be handed over on Oct 29 to the speaker. The suffering Sri Lankan Tamil minority has only served the narrow political ends of the DMK and the Congress."

 

In addition, the public protests demanding immediate cession of hostilities continued across Tamil Nadu with a state wide shut down and fast by cinema stars, cinema technicians and television artists.

 

On Friday, November 7, Karunanidhi released a statement again calling for cessation of hostilities, but this time from both the warring sides in the island country – the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

 

"A permanent ceasefire is needed to ensure lasting peace for which a cessation of hostilities from both the sides is an inevitable need. Once the fighting ends, India and other third party mediators can ensure that the Tamil minority in the island is accorded adequate rights to exist honourably," Karunanidhi said in a statement.

Following Karunanidhi’s statement, on Saturday, November 8, Communist Party of India (CPI) Tamil Nadu, D. Pandian made public call for the Eelam Tamils' political leadership to clarify the Tamil stand on the issue of ceasefire.

 

In his statement, Pandian said that the people of Tamil Nadu state and India were being led to a state of confusion by the calls that demanded both the warring parties in Sri Lanka to announce a ceasefire.

 

Consensus of the people of Tamil Nadu is that the Sri Lankan government should immediately stop the war. However, when questions were raised by certain sections, there is a need for clarification, Pandiyan added.

 

Head of LTTE political wing responded to this call on Sunday, November 9.

 

Following Nadesan’s clarification both CPI and DMK urged the Prime Minster Manmohan Singh to call on Sri Lanka to stop the war.

Karunanidhi, in a statement released on Monday, November 10 said: “Pursuant to the steps initiated by the (central government) since then… (and) after Saturday’s offer of a ceasefire by (LTTE political head) Nadesan, India has an urgent need to get the Sri Lankan regime (realise) the inevitable responsibility to translate these into action (through the declaration of a ceasefire),”

 

Veteran CPI leader Pandian urged the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to act swiftly to end the war in Sri Lanka.

 

Noting that the LTTE has responded positively for the public call from the CPI to spell out their stand in unambiguous terms to the call for ceasefire and urged Manmohan Singh to use his good offices to impress upon Mr. Rajapakse to stop the war and agree for a ceasefire.

 

Pandian further said: As Indians, we feel, that the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict should he resolved amicably or else, the negative impact on India will have long term repercussions.

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