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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > LTTE Suspends Negotiations > LTTE's Statement on Tokyo & Comment by Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Island

Norwegian Peace Initiative

LTTE's Statement on Tokyo &
Comment by Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Island
15 June 2003

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, with 18,000 cadres trained and ready and armed with a host of new weapons, has rejected the continued frantic efforts by the government of Sri Lanka and a plethora of foreign governments to restart the peace process.

On the side of the armed forces, a dangerous war-weariness and complacency is dominating the psychology of the army, navy, air force and even the police and Special Task Force.

Should the Tigers decide to attack in the near future, there is little doubt that they would come very close to driving the armed forces out of both the North and East, and achieving their unwavering objective of an independent state called Eelam.

The Sri Lanka Army has still not been able to fill its cadre of 100,000 soldiers, despite offering blanket amnesties for deserters to rejoin. A series of recruitment campaigns has done little to bring in new blood to the ranks. In terms of weaponry, the army has not obtained any new type of weapons since the ceasefire began 18 months ago. Stocks of weapons and fighting vehicles that it already had at the time have not been increased significantly.

The Sri Lanka Air Force has managed to replace the aircraft that it lost during the July 2001 debacle at the Katunayake air force base. But it has not obtained any new type of aircraft, and continues to rely on types of planes and helicopters that were in use two years ago. While anti-missile capabilities on the aircraft are sufficient for high altitude flying, where pilots have several minutes to react to missiles that must climb several miles to get to them, the missiles of the LTTE�s anti-aircraft unit continue to prevent pilots of attack aircraft from carrying out their missions.

The Sri Lanka Navy continues to be short of fast attack craft and gunboats. But more seriously, plans to build up a blue water fleet capable of fighting the LTTE on the high seas have been abandoned. The navy�s plans to launch a fleet air arm have been scrapped, which means that the ability to conduct proper searches for Tiger arms smuggling ships on the vast swathes of ocean remains a pipedream, and there continues to be heavy reliance on the Indian Navy to provide intelligence and track LTTE vessels. The US Coast Guard�s gift of an offshore patrol vessel has not yet been taken up due to controversy over the high cost of refurbishing and re-arming the 35-year-old vessel.

This dangerous state of affairs has come about due to two reasons. One is that the government continues to have little money to fund weapons purchases. But perhaps just as seriously the top brass of the three armed forces has done little to plan and execute any methodical expansion and upgrading of their forces, and has not tried at all to convince the government of the dire need to prepare for war while talking peace.

No effort has been made by the government to discuss any course of action should the Tigers go back to war. Should the armed forces be pushed to the brink of defeat, there is simply no plan of what would be done and whether any help can be expected from foreign governments. As much as the government has counted on the threat of action by governments that are in the forefront of the global anti-terrorism campaign to try to keep the peace talks alive, one wonders whether the United States would intervene militarily against the 18,000-strong force that the Tigers can now muster. But most seriously, there have been no discussions between the government of Sri Lanka and the US government of what options would be open if the LTTE goes back to war, and what role the US government and military might play.

The present belligerent and inflexible attitude of the LTTE is baffling to those who have been trying to push the peace process forward, namely the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the governments of Norway, Japan and the United States. Many see the LTTE�s boycotting of the Tokyo donor forum, as inexplicable. The Tigers� rejection of every single proposal put forward by the government has stumped all those who believed that the peace process was actually going somewhere in the direction of a long-term solution. Instead, the LTTE will now not even talk face to face with the government and Norwegian diplomats are being forced to scurry between Kilinochchi and Colombo carrying messages as well as Oslo, London, Tokyo and New Delhi.

However, the LTTE�s strategy comes as no surprise to those who have been part and parcel of the war over the last two decades. One only has to look back at the events of 1989/90, and 1995, to see the similarity to what the Tigers are now doing.

The LTTE has always viewed peace talks as nothing more than a lull or intermission in fighting, during which they expand. The Tiger high command is well aware of the fact that they have never been able to make the LTTE stronger as a fighting force during times of war, especially when hostilities continue for many years. In other words, the LTTE�s number of cadres stays fairly constant, or even diminishes due to casualties in battle and the reluctance of Tamil civilians to join when it is likely that they will lose their lives, while it becomes difficult to bring in large quantities of new weapons by sea to the strength of the Indian and Sri Lankan navies being deployed to stop them. The 13 months of peace talks in 1989/90, and the four months of negotiations in 1995 were used merely as interludes during which the Tigers pursued their own military buildup.

The latest statement by the LTTE regarding the government�s newest proposals is a clear example of the fact that the Tigers are no longer making a serious effort to continue the peace talks.

The statement, carried on the LTTE website Tamilnet, was as follows:

"LTTE insists on draft framework for interim administration to resume talks".

"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in an official statement issued from its headquarters in Kilinochchi, northern Sri Lanka, reiterated its position that it would participate in the negotiating process only when the Sri Lankan government puts forward a clearly defined draft framework for an interim administrative structure for the Northeast.

"The LTTE has also rejected the offer made by the Prime Minister, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, of a �provisional administrative structure� within the laws of the land as a restatement of his previous position with a new terminology."

"We are disappointed to note that the Prime Minister�s statement does not offer anything new. The so-called �provisional administrative structure� is the new name given to the Apex Council proposed by him for development and rejected by us as extremely limited and inadequate," the LTTE statement said.

"The Prime Minister has not responded to our call for a draft framework for an innovative and effective politico-administrative structure. Contrary to Mr. Wickremasinghe�s statement to the international donor community, we seriously differ in perception in connection with what the LTTE leadership proposes and what his government offers. While our leadership has proposed an Interim Administrative framework, a politico-administrative structure for the Northeast with wider participation of the LTTE, the Sri Lankan government has offered a council with a structure and mechanism for the development of the region. The Prime Minister is taking cover behind the laws and constitution of Sri Lanka, which have effectively institutionalized racism against which the Tamil people have been struggling for decades," the statement observed." 

"Furthermore, the LTTE and Mr. Wickremasinghe�s government also hold starkly divergent views as to the nature of the final political solution to end Sri Lanka�s protracted ethnic conflict. While the Prime Minister envisages piecemeal reforms to the present constitution, the LTTE has proposed a radical transformation of the system of governance in Sri Lanka, through the institutionalization of a new, secular and equitable constitution which recognizes the Tamils� right to self-determination and homeland. It is whilst recognizing that this is an impossible task for Mr. Wickremasinghe�s fragile ruling coalition that our organization proposed the establishment of an Interim Administration," the LTTE statement said."

"The LTTE has also criticized the government of Ranil Wickremasinghe for complicating the peace process by allowing undue and unwarranted interference by extra territorial forces in the ethnic conflict, which is an internal political affair that has to be resolved by the parties in conflict."

"The compulsions that arose from severe economic and political bankruptcy have compelled the government to seek the ultimate refuge in the so-called �international safety net� to resolve the economic and political crisis of the country. By seeking this net� the Colombo regime has shifted the peace process from third party facilitation to the realm of international arbitration by formidable external forces that has far-reaching consequences to the political and economic destiny of the island," the LTTE�s statement declared."

"Commenting on the resolutions and declarations adopted by the donor community at the Tokyo conference, the LTTE�s statement said that the document has no binding obligations on the organization. "The LTTE was not involved in the deliberations or in the formulation of these declarations. We have not been consulted on the set of propositions and resolutions enunciated in the Tokyo Declaration. The Colombo government, with the active assistance of the facilitator and its international �tactical allies� has formulated this strategic paper to super-impose its own agenda on the LTTE. This is unacceptable to us," the LTTE statement said."


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