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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka's Broken Pacts & Evasive Proposals > Chandrika - LTTE Talks: 1994/95 > LTTE Leader Mr.Velupillai Pirabaharan interviewed in Tamil Eelam, on the collapse of the Peace Process
LTTE Leader Mr.Velupillai Pirabaharan
27 April 1995
Q. Mr.Pirabaharan, why did you decide to withdraw from the peace negotiations and from cessation of hostilities at a time when there was hope in the country that peace would be restored in the NorthEast and the Tamil problem would be resolved?
A. We made this painful decision at a time when our people had lost all hope that peace would be restored to the Tamil homeland and the Tamil question would be resolved.
At the beginning we entertained a hop that peace and normalcy would be restored and the Tamil national question would be resolved by political negotiations. Based on this belief we entered the peace process and agreed to a cessation of hostilities.
In the talks we argued that talks should proceed stage by stage and that the urgent and immediate problems of our people should be resolved at the early stages of the dialogue. The government agreed to this. The Tamil people have been subjected to enormous suffering as a consequence of the economic embargo, fishing bans and the blockade on traffic imposed by the previous Government. In the peace talks we requested nothing other than the removal of these bans to alleviate the suffering of our people.
The Chandrika government, which came to power with the pledge that justice would be done to the Tamils, should have, on its own, removed the injustices imposed on our people.
Sri Lanka approached issues in a military perspective
But the Chandrika government didn't do so. Instead of viewing these issues as constituting the problems of the Tamil people, the Government took them as specific demands of the LTTE. Furthermore these issues were approached within a military perspective. We were told that these issues were linked to national security and any attempt to resolve them would spark off military repercussions. We were disappointed with this response.
It was under these circumstances that we issued an ultimatum to the Government. We pointed out that the continuation of the peace negotiations would serve no meaningful purpose if the problems of our people are not resolved. As a consequence of this pressure, the Government assured us that it would remove the bans.
We extended our deadline, but Government delayed implementing its pledges
We extended our deadline for three weeks to allow time for the Government to implement its pledges. But the Government delayed the implementation of its decisions and postponed the resolution of other issues. We felt that the Government was not sincere and truthful in this matter. It committed an act of bad faith as the previous Sinhala Governments. It is because of this, we and our people have lost faith in Chandrika's government. Therefore, we came to a decision that no meaningful purpose would be served in continuing the peace negotiations.
Q. Why did you decide to discontinue the peace negotiations even though President Chandrika lifted the economic embargo and removed the ban on fishing and offered several concessions?
Giving pledges and implementing them are two different things
A. I wish to make a point here. That is, giving pledges and implementing those pledges are two different things. In the past the Tamil people have been betrayed by previous Sinhala regimes. Agreements were made but not implemented. Pacts were signed and abrogated. This is our history. Chandrika's government is not an exception.
We stipulated a deadline to the Government to provide a time frame to implement its decisions. The Government did not take our deadline seriously. They tried to evade it. It is wrong on the part of President Chandrika to claim that she has given concessions to the LTTE. We did not ask for any concessions but raised the problems of our people. The rights that were denied to our people should not be categorised as concessions.
If there was a genuine will on the part of the Government the bans could have been lifted in 24 hours
Q. Don't you think that you should have been a bit patient since the delay in the implementation of the lifting of the economic embargo could have been caused by administrative hurdles?
A. We have showed enough patience. We could say that we reached the brink of tolerance. In so far as the day to day problems of the Tamil people are concerned the Government dragged its feet for more than six months. On these issues, there were four rounds of talks and more than forty letters exchanged.
Furthermore, we gave a two weeks deadline and that was further extended to three more weeks. Do you think this period of time inadequate?
If there was a genuine will on the part of the Government it would have lifted the bans and proceeded with the implementation within 24 hours. I think that if the Government had been sincere there would not have been any delays or difficulties.
If this Government had a genuine concern for the welfare of the Tamil people, it would not have re imposed the bans
Q. What do you feel about the Government's decision to reimpose the bans?
A. This action has made one thing clear. That is so far as the Tamil issue is concerned there is no fundamental difference between the present Government and the UNP regime. This Government is perpetuating the injustices committed by past Governments. I do not see any difference between both Government in their strategy to seek political gains by imposing economic and military pressure on the Tamils.
If this Government has a genuine concern for the welfare of the Tamil people, it should not have re imposed the bans. This action demonstrates the fact that the Government is only concerned to secure the interests of the military and to utilise the problems and predicament of the Tamils to seek political advantage.
The Government chose to ignore the meaning and purpose of our ultimatum and now attempts to lay the blame on us
Q. Under the terms and conditions of the Declaration of the Cessation of Hostilities, you should have given 72 hours notice if you wished to terminate the agreement. Why didn't you give that period of time?
A. We have given the Government ample time. A period of five weeks was given to the Government since the first deadline which was later extended. The Government chose to ignore the meaning and purpose of our ultimatum and now attempts to lay the blame on us.
We deeply regret the haste in which the Governments have issued condemnations without studying the issue in depth
Q. Several foreign Governments have condemned you for having terminated the peace negotiations and the agreement on the cessation of hostilities. This has given rise to the view that the LTTE is opposed the peace process. What do you say to this?
A. We are fully aware that the international community is genuinely concerned about the Tamil issue. We are also aware that the world community wants the conflict resolved through peaceful means and a political settlement is reached. I think that accurate information with regard to the problems, difficulties and set backs that arose in the negotiating process has not reached the outside world.
Some foreign countries have chosen to condemn the LTTE on the basis of the one sided story provided by the Government without recognising the legitimacy of our position. We deeply regret the haste in which the Governments have issued condemnations without studying the issue in depth.
Q. President Chandrika has made it clear that she is determined to pursue the peace process with or without the cooperation of the LTTE. What is your response to this?
A. If it is practicable to achieve peace without the cooperation of the LTTE, let her continue her effort.
Our doors for peace are still open
Q. The International Secretariat of the LTTE in London has issued a statement recently that the Tigers have not closed the doors for peace. What steps do you expect the Government to take to resume the peace initiative?
A. Our doors for peace are still open. It is true that we are dissatisfied and disillusioned with the approach of the Government. We are convinced that the Tamil national question can be resolved by peaceful means.
It is the Government which should take the initiatives to resume the peace process. As a constructive measure the Government should lift the reimposed bans on economic items and on fishing and should ensure implementation. This action should be viewed as fulfilling the needs of the people rather than as concessions granted to the LTTE.
If Chandrika's Government makes favourable decisions on the other issues we raise and is prepared to implement them, we will be prepared to cease all hostilities and return to the peace process.