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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka's Broken Pacts & Evasive Proposals > Chandrika - LTTE Talks: 1994/95 > Petition by Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations to President Chandrika Kumaratunga, 3 June 1995
3 June 1995
Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
President of Sri Lanka,
Through the Sri Lanka Consulate,
We, Tamils living in Switzerland, are gravely disturbed and disappointed at the breakdown of the peace process. Over the years successive Sri Lanka governments have broken pacts, dishonoured agreements and aborted attempts to reach a peaceful and just resolution of the Tamil national question. It appears that in 1995, it is the same story all over again and Sinhala chauvinism has once again triumphed over the voice of reason and justice.
We believed that the election of the new Peoples Alliance government in August 1994, your later election as Sri Lanka President, and the vote that you received from the Sinhala people in support of the peace process, would mean an end to the 40 year oppression of the Tamil people - a forty year oppression which had led to the rise of the lawful Tamil armed resistance movement.
During your election campaign you proclaimed that your first priority was to restore peace, but regretfully, you have now declared that you propose to restore peace by waging war!
We are aware that 7 months ago on 17 October 1994, in an interview with the BBC you said:
"Most armies prefer war to peace. Not the soldiers at the base, but those who are in Colombo at the top. We hope and we believe that we have better control of our armies and we will not permit them to do what they think is right."
But ten days later, on 28 October, you were forced to recant and you declared: "My government has provided the security forces with the basic facilities which the previous regime failed to give. The first thing this government did before starting the process of reducing the hardships of the people of Jaffna was to improve the conditions of the forces... I have full confidence in the security forces.."
Since that time it appears that you have progressively succumbed to the dictates of the Sri Lankan armed forces and other chauvinist forces in the Sinhala body politic.
We recognise that the failure of the Peoples Alliance to secure an overall majority in Parliament has made you even more susceptible to such pressures. However, we believe that in a democracy, it is the government which directs the military forces and you as executive President, cannot abdicate that responsibility.
We regret to point out that as the peace talks with the Liberation Tigers progressed during the past several months, the deeds of your government have often been at variance with your words.
Though you declared that you were removing the ban on the transport of specified essential goods to the Tamil homeland in the North, you failed to gazette the removal of the ban. The promised electricity supplies to the North did not materialise. The armed forces deliberately procrastinated and thwarted the flow of essential goods which had been ostensibly removed from the banned list. Again, though you declared that the ban on fishing had been relaxed, in fact fishing was subjected to several restrictions arbitrarily imposed by the Sri Lanka navy.
The Poonakari camp, which was used by the Sri Lanka armed forces to restrict free travel of Tamil civilians, continued to operate. As you are aware, the camp had been established three years ago as a part of the strategy of the Sri Lanka army to encircle the Jaffna peninsula and impose an economic blockade. In the East you built more army camps and tried to expand your area of control and at the same time you to refused to permit cadres of the LTTE to carry arms.
Again, though spokesmen for the Liberation Tigers had on more than one occasion stated that the LTTE would be ready to consider a genuine federal solution which recognised the existence of the Tamil homeland and the right of the Tamil people to freely choose their political status, you failed to place your proposals for a political solution.
It is a matter for regret that your Governments participation in the peace process was directed to simply strengthen and consolidate its armed forces and control of the Tamil homeland.
You will recall that in March this year the Liberation Tigers gave you more than three weeks notice that if the peace process was to be taken forward in a constructive manner, four matters should be given urgent consideration.
Firstly, there should be an effective removal of the economic embargo on non military articles and goods. Secondly the ban on fishing should be removed. Thirdly, the Poonakari camp should be removed. Fourthly, in a situation where the armed members of the Sri Lankan security forces moved freely in the East, LTTE cadres too should be permitted to carry arms. But, regretfully, you failed to address these issues.
Your actions since the end of the cessation of hostilities agreement in April serve to confirm the grip that Sinhala chauvinism has on your government.
Your Excellency, in August last year you lifted the economic blockade on some essential goods, such as medicine, baby food, fuel and other food items. This relaxation was long before any agreement on cessation of hostilities which was entered into months later. In August 1994 you declared that the relaxation of the blockade was done with a view to removing the hardships suffered by the Tamil people.
But, after the ending of the cessation of hostilities agreement on 19 April 1995, you have now imposed a total economic blockade on all items. If the existence of hostilities in August last year did not prevent you from relaxing the blockade we fail to see why the resumption of hostilities in April should lead you to reimpose the blockade in all its vigour.
Again, if as you say, you are engaged in a war only against the Liberation Tigers, we fail to see why you have the punished the entirety of the Tamil people by imposing a blockade on the Tamil homeland in the North. Also, if as you say, you are not engaged in a war against the Tamil people, we fail to see why the Sri Lanka army is using Tamil civilians as human shields to detect land mines in the East.
Further in the East, in the recent past, where the LTTE has successfully attacked Sri Lanka army camps, your Army has retaliated by attacking Tamil villages and killing civilians. Your Army has unleashed a reign of terror on Tamil villages in the East. It arrests Tamils arbitrarily and on the following day discards the dead bodies of those arrested on the streets.
One such incident occurred on 23 May in Jayanthi Puram. You are aware that complaints about the conduct of the Sri Lanka army have been raised in your Parliament by the M.P. for the area. Again in the North, in Vadamaratchi, more than 15,000 families have been displaced as a result of indiscriminate shelling from the Sri Lanka navy and from the Palaly army camp.
You are no doubt aware that apart from anything else all these acts constitute inhuman breaches of the humanitarian law of armed conflict. We urge that as executive head of the Sri Lanka armed forces, you put a stop to these breaches of international law, and take action against those directly responsible
Your Excellency, please do understand that it was the terrorism of successive Sri Lanka governments from as early as 1956 and in 1958, and again in 1961 and again with increasing frequency from 1972 to 1977 and culminating in the genocidal attacks of 1983 that resulted in the rise of the lawful armed resistance of the Tamil people. Please believe us when we say that the meaningful way forward is to admit this historical truth and to accept that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam represent the determined will of the Tamil people to live free from oppressive rule.
We urge you to recognise the Tamil homeland and the right of the Tamil people to freely choose their political status. Such recognition will create the frame for fruitful talks for the resolution of a conflict which has taken a heavy toll in human life and human suffering.
We urge you to give your serious consideration to the four requests made by the Liberation Tigers in March and agree to take the peace process forward.
We commend to you the words of Velupillai Pirabaharan, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam In an interview with the B.B.C. broadcast on 30 April 1995:
"Our doors for peace are still open. It is true that we are dissatisfied and disillusioned with the approach of the (Sri Lanka) Government. Yet we have not lost hope in the peace process. We are convinced that the Tamil national question can be resolved by peaceful means. It is the (Sri Lanka) Government which should take the initiatives to resume the peace process."
Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations