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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka's Broken Pacts & Evasive Proposals > Chandrika - LTTE Talks: 1994/95 > BBC interview LTTE Leader Mr.Velupillai Pirabaharan
Chandrika - LTTE Talks: 1994/95
13 September 1994
English translation of an interview in Tamil by LTTE Leader Mr.Velupillai Pirabaharan speaking from Jaffna, with the British Broadcasting Corporation, broadcast on the BBC Tamil Service during the second week of September 1994:
Q. They (the Government) have said that they propose to have talks with you. Are you of the view that a conducive climate is being created for such talks ?
A. We are ready to engage in unconditional talks. It is our desire that such talks should take place in a conducive climate, in a peaceful climate. The new government has relaxed the economic embargo. This is goodwill expressed in action. We welcome the step that the Government has taken.
At the sametime, it must be said that the economic blockade has not been completely removed. It continues to be imposed in respect of certain essential goods. Again, roads for civilian traffic continue to be kept closed by the government. As a result economic conditions will not become normal. The burden of sorrow that the people carry will not be lightened.
Above all else, it is essential that a peaceful climate is established in the Tamil homeland. We have said that we are ready for a ceasefire. But it appears that the Government is hesitant to agree to this.
The operations of the Sri Lanka armed forces continue. Specifically, the Sri Lanka navy continues with its attacks. This will serve to damage the initiatives taken to secure peace. When looked at overall, conditions have not yet returned to normalcy in the Tamil areas. A climate of good will has appeared and continues to manifest itself. But it will have to be said that a peaceful stable climate has yet to be established. The government should take concrete steps to bring this about.
Q.You say that the Government should declare a ceasefire as a goodwill measure but there is a view in army circles that such a step will enable the Tigers to strengthen their position. What do you say to that?
A.I would say that this view in army circles is wholly wrong. A ceasefire will not help us militarily. Our military strength and growth is dependent on destroying and capturing the enemy's weapons. This can be done only through military operations. Accordingly, it is wrong to think that a ceasefire will strengthen us.
We seek a ceasefire, so that a truly peaceful climate may be created - and for no other purpose. Furthermore, where there is no ceasefire, there can be sudden and unexpected confrontations between us and the Sri Lanka armed forces. Lives can be lost. When such events occur, they will damage the climate for peace, will they not?
The Tamils want a homeland
Q.You have emphasised all along that the Tamils must have a homeland. But Chandrika has declared clearly that she will not accept the Tamil homeland demand and that she will not agree to the merger of the North and East. On the other hand she has said that she intends to place a proposal which involves the alteration of the boundaries of the north and east . What are your views?
A. It is not only I but the entire Tamil people who have reiterated time and again that the Tamils want a homeland. This is an historical truth. The land constituting the North-East provinces is the land of the Tamil people, that is, it is the homeland of the Tamil and Muslim people.
We do not know the nature of the stand taken by Prime Minister Chandrika. We also do not know the nature of any new proposals that she has made. Therefore, before we have examined such proposals it will not be proper for me to express any views on them. During the talks, the stand of the Government on this matter will become clear. At that time we can express our views.
Q.When talks take place between the LTTE and the Government, will you agree to the other Tamil groups also participating?
A.These Tamil groups have individually and together engaged in talks with the Government. We have no objections about that. But, we believe that the new Government recognises who are the true representatives of the Tamil people and who are those who have shed their blood and fought for the rights of the Tamil people.
It is our desire that the Government engages in direct talks with us - we, who are the true representatives of the Tamil people. It is such talks that will be fruitful - and will be meaningful.
We did not break up talks with Premadasa Government
Q.You broke the talks with President Premadasa in mid stream. Why should the new Government trust you and commence talks with you?
A.It is incorrect to say that it is we who broke up the talks with President Premadasa. The talks continued for about 2 years. But during those two years, none of the basic issues concerning the Tamil people were taken up for discussion.
The Premadasa Government did not place before us any proposal whatever for the resolution of the Tamil question. The talks therefore became meaninglessly prolonged and in the end broke down. This is what happened in truth. To allege that we had breached the trust placed on us is but to spread mischievous propaganda.
In all talks, we have placed the interests of our people at the forefront. We have emphasised that our people seek to live in peace, with dignity and with due recognition of their rights. It is because Sinhala Governments have refused to recognise our people's true, reasonable, basic and fundamental rights and dispense justice, that talks have failed.
Time and again it is the Tamil people who have been deceived by Sinhala Governments. Time and again, it is Sinhala Governments who have broken agreements, dishonoured assurances and breached the trust placed on them by the Tamil people.
Nobody can deny this historical truth. If the new Government has resolutely determined that it will accede to the reasonable demands of the Tamil people and that it will dispense justice, then the new Government need not be afraid.
Killali water way
Q.The accusation has been made that it is the LTTE that is preventing the opening of traffic routes between Jaffna and the mainland. What is your response to this?
A.This accusation is without foundation. There are two land routes connecting the Jaffna Peninsula to the South - Elephant Pass and Poonakari. Both these routes have been kept closed by the Sri Lanka Army. This has been done to further its objective of blockading Jaffna. It is because of the closure of these two land routes by the Sri Lanka Army that our people have been forced to travel through the Killali sea route.
Many have been mercilessly killed by the Sri Lanka armed forces in its effort to block this sea route as well. The thyagam of the Sea Tigers who have defended our people against these attacks by the Sri Lanka armed forces, is beyond measuring. Many are the acts of heroism of the Sea Tigers in the defence of this passage.
Today, the Killali sea route is in our control. Our people are travelling freely and without fear along this route, under the protection of our fighters. But if the Government will open a land route to ease the travel of our people and their vehicles, we will welcome that step. The people should be permitted to travel freely without inspection and harassment by the Sri Lanka armed forces. If the Government removes its marooned forces from Poonakari and opens up the Sangupitty route, it is certain that our people will greatly welcome such action.
Q.You could have participated in the recent Parliamentary elections. Why did you not contest?
A.A permanent solution must be found for the Tamil national question. It is only after that that we can consider participating in elections. Tamils have been participating in Parliamentary politics for a long time. But Parliamentary politics failed to give answers to the problems faced by the Tamil people. Not only that - through Parliament itself many discriminatory and oppressive laws were imposed on the Tamil people.
Time after time, the Sri Lanka Parliament has served to satisfy the interests and aspirations of the majority Sinhala people. It has trampled on the interests of the Tamil people. In this situation, we did not believe that any thing what ever will be achieved by Tamils going to Parliament yet again. Furthermore, we had no wish to participate in an electoral process which offended against all rules of law, reason and justice.
Muslims can return
Q.I recently visited a Muslim refugee camp in Puttalam. Those Muslims who you had required to leave Jaffna said with pain that they had lived in friendship and affection with the people of Jaffna. They have said that if it is promised that they will be protected, they would like to return to Jaffna. If a suitable climate prevails, will you agree to allow these Muslims to return to their land?
A.Jaffna is their own land. Unfortunately, difficult circumstances have rendered these Muslim people refugees. We very much regret that this has happened. Today, because of the war situation, 300,000 Tamils are living as refugees in the Jaffna peninsula. Because the Sri Lanka Army has seized by force Tamil villages and settlements, particularly in the islands off the Jaffna peninsula and in west Valigamam, Tamils from these areas have had to leave their homes and become refugees, in their own homeland.
A substantial portion of these displaced Tamils have found asylum in places where Muslims had lived before. If the Sri Lanka Army evacuates from these Tamil villages which it had seized by force, these displaced Tamils will be able to return to their homes. If such a suitable climate is established, we will agree to the return of the Muslim people.
We extend our hand of friendship to the Sinhala people
Q.Mr.Pirabaharan, all over the country, whether in the North, East or South, there is a growing feeling that there should be an end to this war and that peace should be brought about. In this situation, what do you have to say, not to the Sinhala politicians, but to the ordinary Sinhala people, the ordinary Sinhala villager, in South?
A. We know that the ordinary Sinhala people do not desire war, that the ordinary Sinhala people desire peace. The results of the recent general elections also establish this. We too desire peace. We too desire that a permanent peace prevails and that all peoples are able to lead undisturbed lives.
It is the Sinhala nation that should understand that a solution to the Tamil question cannot be found by resort to war and by military suppression of the Tamil people. It is only by satisfying the just aspirations of the Tamil people that today's ethnic crisis can be resolved.
It is only by peaceful means that this can be progressed. It is the Sinhala people who should bring home this understanding to Sinhala chauvinist governments and to Sinhala militarists. We extend our hand of friendship to the Sinhala people. The Sinhala people are not our opponents.