Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative Geneva Talks & After > Kasra Naji, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC),  reports from the Vanni on Talks in Switzerland

 Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
on Talks in Switzerland

21 February 2006

Courtesy: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Reporter: Kasra Naji (also in Real Audio)

ELEANOR HALL: In the first high-level contact between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers since 2003, Government envoys have flown to Switzerland for crucial talks with the rebels aimed at preserving a four-year truce and averting a slide back into civil war.

The meeting is seen as critical in stopping the series of deadly attacks that have threatened to reignite a war that's killed more than 64,000 people.

But on the ground in rebel-held territory, suspicions linger about the Government's sincerity.

Reporter Kasra Naji has been in the rebel held town of Mulaitivu, and filed this report.

(Sound of busy road)

KASRA NAJI: Hundreds of people died here on this stretch of beach, just outside Mulaitivu, when the tsunami hit. What had not been destroyed by more than 20 years of war was demolished by nature, and now, just as the survivors begin to put the tragedy behind them, war is looming on the horizon once again.

(Sound of engine starting)

Fishermen fire up their boat engine to go searching for two fellow fishermen who have gone missing. A rumour has just spread that the bodies of the two have been washed up on the beach a few kilometres off the coast.

Subamali (phonetic) is the mother of one of the missing fishermen. A survivor of the tsunami, she lost her grandchildren then, and now she's unsure whether she will ever see her son again.

As she waits for the search party to come back, she says the two went out to fish one evening in late January and never returned. Like the fishermen here, she suspects the Sri Lankan navy, which patrols the coast along rebel-controlled territory, may have killed or abducted them.

On the beach, fellow fishermen are sitting on the sand, staring out at the sea, bracing themselves for the worst.

A spate of similar kidnappings and killings of both Tamils and Singhalese has added to the tension here. Already this area was on the brink of war because of increasing instances of ceasefire violations. Norwegian mediators have managed to bring the two sides together � a last chance for the countries to be stopped from sliding back into civil war.

The chief negotiator of the Tamil Tiger rebels is Anton Balasingham. He believes the main problem is the Government's failure to implement the ceasefire agreement.

ANTON BALASINGHAM: The real problem with the ceasefire agreement is the non-implementation of the terms and conditions of the ceasefire agreement, has caused the escalation of violence in the recent past.

What we are suggesting is let us discuss about why these terms and conditions have not been implemented. Let us implement it properly and stabilise the ceasefire. That is the first step that the both parties had to take. Then on the stabilisation of the ceasefire, we can talk about other issues.

KASRA NAJI: In the capital Colombo, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera puts the blame on the Tamil Tiger rebels for undermining the ceasefire.

MANGALA SAMARAWEERA: Since the ceasefire took place four years ago there have been nearly 4,000 violations, according to the monitoring mission, as opposed to only 148 by the Government of Sri Lanka.

The Government has been very patient and restrained, and that is why we will want to ensure that during the first round of talks we'll concentrate on strengthening the ceasefire agreement so that both sides can feel happy before they proceed to the substantive part of the talks, which would be about finding a long-term solution to the ethnic (inaudible).

KASRA NAJI: Back on the beach in Mulaitivu, the boat that had gone to see to search for the bodies comes back with only the jacket of one of the missing fishermen. It had been washed up on the beach, no sign of the body.

(Sound of Subamali crying)

The black imitation leather jacket has stoked Subamali's grief - one more reason for her to fear the worst.

(Sound of Subamali crying)

Three weeks since the two went missing, there's still no word from them. The ceasefire, enforced since 2001, initially raised hopes, but now many here fear a return to war. They are pinning their hopes on the talks this week in Geneva.

Kasra Naji, Mulaitivu, rebel-held territory, Northern Sri Lanka.



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