Chandrika's 'Devolution Proposals'
The Tamil people will determine their own
LTTE’s theoretician and chief negotiator
Interview with Tamil Guardian International
1 July 2000,
Courtesy: Tamil Guardian International
understand their (US and Indian) geo-political concerns and interests. These
views are articulated not with an intention to undermine the Tamil struggle
for political freedom but to encourage the parties in conflict to seek a
negotiated political settlement. In so far as the ultimate solution to the
Tamil question is concerned it is not the American superpower nor the Indian
regional power or the Sri Lankan state power that have the power of
determination. It is our people, the people of Tamil Eelam, who will
ultimately determine their own political status and destiny..."
Amid intense political activity in Sri Lanka this week and the
government's announcement of a draft of its devolution proposals and
an interim council for the north east, there has been no official comment by the
Liberation Tigers. The Tamil Guardian sought and obtained an interview with the
LTTE's theoretician and chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham to raise these and
other issues related to the Tamil question. Tamil Guardian staff writers who
spoke to Mr. Balasingham in London, where is recovering well following a kidney
transplant earlier this year, found the senior LTTE official relaxed and upbeat.
Tamil Guardian:The fighting in Jaffna seems to
have subsided. The government claims that the LTTE's offensive campaign has been
stalemated by the armed forces using modern weapons systems. What is your
Balasingham: The Tigers’ offensive is not
stalemated by the army.
Our combat formations are consolidating their newly gained positions in
Jaffna. The offensive campaign has been temporarily suspended
to evacuate the civilians trapped in the battle zones of Chavakachcheri.
The army has been using the Tamil civilians as human shields to protect
They have been bombing and shelling recklessly in the LTTE controlled areas
causing heavy casualties among the innocent people. The army is
desperate and demoralised and taking their vengeance on Tamil lives and
property. [Operation] unceasing waves will never stop until our strategic
objective is achieved. That is, when the Jaffna peninsula is fully liberated
from the alien military occupation.
Tamil Guardian:Have the LTTE fighters faced
any setbacks due to the army's use of new weapons systems, i.e. the multi-barrel
Balasingham: The heavy use of this weapon
system has been the primary cause of civilian casualties. This has also
caused heavy damage to property in the Chavakachcheri sector. Our fighters
are familiar with this weapon system We ourselves have been using them
against the Sinhala troops.
The government is operating with the misplaced notion that the introduction of
new weapons systems will change the course of the war in their favour. It is
not the weapons that determine the success of a military campaign.
It is the will, determination and commitment of the combatants that
determines the war.
The LTTE is blessed with those human virtues, and therefore its victory
Tamil Guardian:The government and the
Opposition have agreed to set up an Interim Council for the administration of
the Northeast. The government has stipulated the laying down of arms as a
pre-condition for the LTTE's participation. What is your comment?
Balasingham:I think the government is living
in a fool's paradise. The LTTE controls more than seventy percent of the
landmass of the Tamil homeland. We are also confident that we will take
control of the Jaffna peninsula in the near future. We have already
instituted a de facto state in the territories under our control. We run a
permanent administration there. We are not that stupid to seek a few seats
in a temporary administrative set up renouncing our people's only means of
defence. i.e. arms.
Even if the government establishes an Interim administrative council it will
not be able to function in the Northeast, under the prevailing conditions.
The Northeastern Provincial administration could not function even under the
might of the Indian army. The Kumaratunga administration is
mooting ludicrous ideas for the solution of the ethnic conflict
completely disregarding the stark realities of the ground situation in the
Chandrika may want to throw a few rotten bones in the form of an Interim
Administration to those power hungry Tamil mercenaries in her alliance.
Yet those who seek after powers and privileges from an oppressive regime at
the cost of the immense suffering of our people should realise that history
will not forgive their treachery.
Tamil Guardian:Colombo has become a hive of
political activity this week. The final stage of the devolution package is being
worked out between the PA government and the UNP. The Norwegian peace envoy Erik
Solheim has been meeting the government leaders. But there seems to be a studied
silence in the LTTE quarters. What is your position regarding the devolution
package? Is the LTTE prepared to study and comment if the package is given to
LTTE rejected the package when it was first presented to the public in 1995
as the Devolution Proposals. We rejected the package on the grounds that
it had serious limitations and that it failed to address the national
aspirations of the Tamil people. Since then there were two more sets of
proposals, the legal
draft of 1996 and the
proposals for constitutional reform of 1997. Several changes have been
made from the original proposals and
powers of devolution have been further whittled down in the draft
constitution. The PA government and the UNP in an attempt to reach a
consensus engaged in deliberations for the last several months diluting
further the constitutional reform proposals of 1997. Having sucked the blood
and flesh out of the original package, a skeleton is now remains as the
The LTTE will not accept this package because it has nothing substantial to
form the foundation for a permanent solution to the
Tamil national question. It fails to address the key demands or the
national aspirations of the Tamil people as articulated in the
cardinal principles of the Thimpu declarations. The LTTE will not study
or comment on any package or proposals that tends to ignore the
key issues of self-determination and nationhood of the Tamil people.
These proposals for constitutional reforms are not specifically addressed to
resolve the national question of the Tamils but rather seeks to promote the
majoritarian interests. Sri Lanka has enacted several constitutions but they
have been woefully inadequate for resolving the ethnic conflict. As long as
constitution makers are constrained form instituting
radical structural reforms
in the polity enacting new constitutions has little or no meaning.
Tamil Guardian: Do you think that there is any
prospect for cease-fire and peace talks in the near future?
Balasingham: There is a prospect for a
cease-fire and peace talks only if the troops occupying Jaffna are
withdrawn. If the government is determined to continue the military
occupation of Jaffna,
then the conditions of war will prevail. The LTTE has already liberated
large territories in the peninsula. This liberation process will continue
until our final goal is achieved.
Tamil Guardian: The world's sole super-power,
the United States and India, the regional super-power have insisted that a
solution to the Tamil conflict should be found within the unity and territorial
integrity of Sri Lanka. Do you think that these assertions will have a negative
impact on your struggle for self-determination?
Balasingham: America and India have made
these statements for specific reasons.
We understand their geo-political concerns and interests. These views
are articulated not with an intention to undermine the Tamil struggle for
political freedom but to encourage the parties in conflict to
seek a negotiated political settlement.
In so far as the ultimate solution to the Tamil question is concerned it is
not the American
superpower nor the
Indian regional power or the
Sri Lankan state power that have the power of determination. It is our
people, the people of Tamil Eelam, who will ultimately determine their own
political status and destiny.
Guardian: What is the LTTE's position with regard to the Indian
assistance of 100 million dollars credit to Sri Lanka?
Balasingham: Though the financial aid is
provided as a gesture of humanitarian assistance,
we feel this credit facility will enhance the resource position of Sri Lanka
and indirectly help its war effort. The Tamil people are dismayed
because the Indian assistance will not be going to serve a humanitarian
purpose but rather it will encourage the Sri Lanka regime to pursue the
military path intensifying the suffering of the Tamil people. It is the
Tamil people in the North,
dying without food and medicine, who urgently need humanitarian assistance.
Yet this pathetic human tragedy has not touched the spirituality or
conscience of India.