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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > No force, diplomatically or politically, can force us to lay down arms: Balasingham
No force, diplomatically or politically, can force us to
lay down arms: Balasingham
at a meeting in Dusseldorf on 9 February 2003,
the day after the latest round of peace talks with the UNF Government
ended at the Royal Norwegian Consulate in Berlin.
reported in Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 16 February 2003
A correspondent from the Colombo based pro LTTE Tamil daily Sudar Oli, who covered the peace talks later reported on this event. Here are edited excerpts of Dr Balasingham's speech from a translation of the Sudar Oli report of February 11.
"The government is maintaining double standards. At the centre the Parliamentary power is with the Prime Minister and the executive powers are with the president. We are talking with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The Colombo politicians do not have a clear policy. They are divided. That is the reason they cannot implement decisions and the peace process is very slow.
Some elements who are involved in propaganda against us claim we have dropped the Tamil Eelam goal. That is not correct. Our leader has very clearly stated this in his Martyrs day speech. In his speech he has said that Self-rule should be given to us under a Federal setup. If this is denied we have no alternative, other than to form a separate government. This is not an emotional demand, but is politically and scientifically correct'. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) wants "self rule" as in other countries having a "federal set up" but have not dropped their "Tamil Eelam goal." If "self rule" is not given to them under a "federal set up" they would have "no alternative, other than to form a separate government.
"Do not ask us the weapons . We will not give it. We have gone house to house around the world to collect the money from you. We have purchased weapons with this money.
"Until a just solution is reached we are not ready to hand over weapons. If the government has the courage to demand for the weapons why don't you come and take it away. But we know that you will not do it as you will lose the remaining arms. No forces either diplomatically or politically can force us to lay down arms.
Since we have been cheated by the Sinhala leadership in the past, we are not foolish to surrender weapons. We should remember that emotional talks won't bring results, only the violence can bring results.
Do not think that we have hopes that a solution could be arrived at through negotiations. You may ask why we are talking to the Government. That is because we want to expose the truth to the international community, to the entire world. This is a good opportunity to prove that the Government is not honest. We want to show to the international community that we are genuinely committed towards peace. That is why with so many incidents we are continuing the talks.
�If the Sinhala nation tries to deceive us and force the war upon us we have no choice, other than to return to war."
(See Situation report for fuller details)
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has launched a Tamil Eelam Financial Project and called upon the Tamil expatriate community to contribute to it without raising questions. He has said this money will be "used in case of emergency." I am not making this disclosure. It is Anton Balasingham, the Chief Negotiator of the LTTE who is talking peace with the UNF Government.
"Countries that branded us as a terrorist organisation earlier are now giving us a grand welcome every month. We have now been called to Germany. This is a diplomatic move by us. It is the result of talks we have had (with the UNF Government) during last five months. There have been no deaths, no loss or damage to property.
"But the (Ceasefire) Agreement reached between the LTTE and the Government has not yielded full results. Forced occupation continues. Our cultural city of Jaffna continues to be occupied by the Army. They are exercising military pressure. More than 40,000 troops are in temples, public buildings and schools. Under the guise of High Security Zones (HSZ), the lives of the people have been shattered. Not only houses, even farming lands have been occupied.
"According to the agreement, the Army should have vacated these places. Every month we have been reminding the government, but their response is very poor. They come out with the excuse that if they shrink the security zones, it would be a threat to them.
An organisation known as SIHRN (Sub Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs) has been set up to look into the interest of the internally displaced persons but money and facilities have not been provided. Hence people cannot still return to their original homesteads. We cannot be satisfied that we have achieved peace. We have started the peace process to restore normalcy among the people and improve their quality of life. But we cannot say that our people are living happily.
"The Government is maintaining double standards. At the centre the parliamentary power is with the Prime Minister and executive power is with the President. We are talking with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. Even the security forces are under the President. Agreements reached at the talks cannot be implemented as the President, who is head of the security forces, is giving orders to block the decisions being implemented.
"There is division among Sinhala politicians. Chauvinist and Buddhist monks are creating problems. That is why the Sinhala leadership cannot accept our fundamental rights. They are in an unstable situation. We cannot expect a speedy result from the peace process.
"In the past we were involved in talks in a non-violent way, unarmed and politely. Today we are talking on same equal status. We are equal to the Army that has many battalions. We have taught them we cannot be defeated by power of weapons. Even if these talks fail our Tamil nation will never be weakened. It will not affect us. This time the international community is closely watching. They are providing us venues for talks. This shows the enthusiasm shown to the peace process. The government, like in the past, cannot cheat us. There is a facilitator. They know the contents of the talks.
"The Tamils want to live with dignity and respect. We are asking for justice. We are asking for very reasonable demands so we can have self-rule. We do not like to divide the country. We are not terrorists. What we are asking is to give us self-rule as in other countries that have a federal set up. The international community - the United States, Britain and the European Union - have accepted this position. However, some elements involved in propaganda against us claim we have dropped the Eelam goal. That is not correct.
"The Government is in trouble due to our demand. There is a complicated situation as I have trapped them with this demand of a self-rule. This is a drama where Balasingham is also acting. There is an engine and the leader has connected two compartments - fomer LTTE Jaffna Commander (Tamil Selvan) and present Eastern Commander (Karuna). They have experience only in destroying. Therefore it is difficult to control them and keep them calm at the negotiating table.
"This journey is a diplomatic move. We are moving towards a goal. We cannot continue war for a long period. Our fighters and the people want an interlude. We need this to build the economy and the quality of life of our people. We also need an opportunity to tell the international community why we took to arms. We are making use of this interlude, travelling from country to country to explain. Earlier, the entire world had neglected and cornered us.
"Jaffna Security Forces Commander want us to surrender our heavy weapons as a pre-conditon for re-settlement in the HSZ. President Kumaratunga has endorsed this demand. Do not ask us the weapons. We will not give it. We have gone from house to house around the world to collect money from you. We have purchased weapons with this money. This is not a secret. With these weapons we have been able to defeat the Army and collect more weapons. We have sacrificed the lives of 18,000 of our cadres. Therefore these weapons belong to the Tamil community.
"Until a just solution is reached we are not ready to hand over weapons. If the Government has the courage to demand our weapons, why don't they come and take them. We know they will not. They will not want to lose their remaining weapons. No forces, either diplomatically or politically, can compel us to lay down arms. Since the Sinhala leadership has cheated us in the past, we are not foolish to surrender weapons.
"We have been able to recruit more cadres to to strengthen our forces. Our leader has sent a special message calling you to contribute to the Tamil Eelam Financial Project. This money will be used in case of emergency. Do not raise questions about the project. When we achieve results you will be surprised. The Sinhala nation has not only destroyed itself but also tries to destroy others. If there is no foreign aid, there is no future government.
"But our position is different. Though the Tamil nation has been destroyed by the war, you are the backbone of our economy. Day to day our community is rising up. The Sinhala nation has already understood this reality. They are not in a position to fight the war. They do not have the courage to sacrifice. There are many deserters. Though they have had military assistance from United States, India and Pakistan, they still could not beat the Tigers for the past 20 years. The international community brought pressure on them to stop the war and talk peace. The Government had no alternative.
"Do not think we have hopes that a solution could be arrived at through negotiations. You may ask why are we talking to the Government. That is because we want to expose the truth to the international community, to the entire world. This is a good opportunity to prove that the government is not honest.
"We understand that President Kumaratunga does not like to find a solution in a non violent manner. That is the reason she is trying to topple the Government.
"We are acquiring weapons, recruiting people, training people and also using this opportunity to improve our economy. But the Sinhala nation is not. Their economy has collapsed. Even during the peace process there are deserters from the Army. They cannot match our military. They are losing control of the situation. But Mr. Wickremasinghe cannot understand this.
"Before the situation worsens, President Kumaratunga is trying to dissolve the Government. President has two more years. Before that she wants to overthrow Mr. Wickremasinghe. We are expecting snap polls. Even if the election is held we are not going to return to war immediately. We will continue with the cease-fire. The theme for this election will be peace or war. Let the Sinhala people decide whether they want war or peace.
"If Mr. Wickremsinghe forms a government, we will continue talks with them. Do not think we are going through smooth negotiations. But we will try our best to continue."