Co-chairs Press Release
30 May 2006
[Comment by tamilnation.org:
"In Tamil there is a saying about pinching the child and rocking the cradle
at the same time. The action may seem irrational but there is a
frame within which it is perfectly rational. The trick is to understand the
frame. The Co-Chairs Press Release
came within 24 hours of the
to impose a ban on the LTTE. Having imposed the ban, the Co-Chairs
almost suggest that there are two sides to the story - and that the Tamils
have 'legitimate grievances'.
".. The PR technique is
simple enough: minimise
rights abuses, talk about it as a 'complex' two sided story,
play up efforts
at reform... If possible, it is best to put these words in the mouth
of some apparently 'neutral' group of 'concerned citizens', or a lofty
institute with academic credentials." (Richard Swift,
New Internationalist, in Mind Games, July 1999)
The frame within which the Press Release by the co-Chairs
becomes rational is that the 'international community' (consisting of the
trilaterals - US, European Union and Japan but not India or China - see
Trilateral Commision) are not disinterested good Samaritans intent on
helping the peoples in Sri Lanka to secure peace. The Press Release
is directed to advance the strategic interests of the tri laterals -
and in particular the 'containment' strategy that the US has adopted in
relation to China, and less obviously in relation to India.
Here Pallavi Aiyar's
'From "China fear" to "China fever"'
remains relevant. When the1971
insurrection happened, the Srimavo Bandaranaike government's immediate
response was to close down the North Korean Embassy - and New Delhi's
response was to send its airforce to Katunayake. A careful reading of the
co-chairs statement suggests that the tri laterals and India are outbidding
each other to ensure that the conflict in the island is resolved in a way
which secures each of their own strategic interests.
And President Rajapakse seeks to utilise this political
space (created by the different strategic interests of the trilaterals,
India and China) to advance Sinhala hegemony with the support of the JVP or,
better still, by adopting its policies. It is in this context that the
recent expressions of concerns by B. Raman, Additional Secretary
(retd.Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi) on the
Implications of EU Ban on LTTE and also Indian General Raghavan's advise
to the International Community on its Role may be viewed.
New Delhi's concern about the EU ban is not so much that the LTTE was banned
but that the ban (at the insistence of the US) signified a shift by the EU
to a closer US alignment and the re-emergence of a more unified trilateral
approach after the difficulties of Iraq - and the impact that such alignment
may have on New Delhi's multi lateral world view. It is unlikely that New
Delhi would have been happy with the
declaration that it 'views the
activities of the Karuna Group in the gravest possible light'. Again,
the shift in the EU position may itself have had something to do with the
policies of the new German Chancellor,
Angela Merkel - policies which, it seems, the German Ambassador in
Colombo may not have been fully aware.
The remarks by
Dharmeretnam Sivaram, three years ago, on the
folly of Eelam Punditry
demand repetition yet again.
"Today it is clear beyond all reasonable doubt that
India and the US-UK-Japan Bloc are trying to influence and manage Sri
Lanka's peace process to promote and consolidate their respective
strategic and economic interests...We already hear fools (and there are
many of the educated variety among Tamils) declaring that we should
swallow our pride and yield to the dictates of the world's sole super
power, that the US would bomb the Vanni back to the stone age if the
LTTE does not toe the line.
Any foreign force can have its way
in a country only if its people are divided, politically obfuscated and
are irredeemably sunk in political stupor. The creeping
intellectual/political barrenness in the northeast should be stopped
without further delay. LTTE officials too should stop making
pedestrian, boringly predictable utterances on public forums
and, instead, make every endeavour to stir the people's reason,
intellectual curiosity, their sense of community, their imagination and
their intellectual fervour. This is the only way forward to
decisively break the vicious circle of political obfuscation by which
our people are deeply but blissfully afflicted today.
may be the mightiest nation on the earth today but that cannot detract
an iota from
our right to live with honour, dignity and freedom in the
land of our fore bears. It cannot for a moment make us give up an
inch of our lands to help India or the US Bloc stabilise the Sri
Lankan state for the sole purpose of furthering their strategic and
Release issued by the Embassy of Japan:
Co-Chairs met today in Tokyo at a time when Sri Lanka is on the brink of war
Japan convened this meeting, three years after the original Tokyo Conference on
Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka, to decide whether the Co-Chairs,
namely the European Union, Japan, US and Norway, can usefully help further in
addressing Sri Lanka’s crisis when the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE do
not seem to be able to prevent the sliding back into violence.
The Co-Chairs call on both parties to take immediate steps to reverse the
deteriorating situation and put the country back on the road to peace.
The LTTE must re-enter the negotiating process. It must renounce terrorism and
violence. It must show that it is willing to make the political compromises
needed for a political solution within a united Sri Lanka. This solution should
include democratic rights of all peoples of Sri Lanka. The international
community will respond favourably to such actions; failure to do so will lead to
deeper isolation of the LTTE.
The Government must show that it will address the legitimate grievances of the
Tamils. It must immediately prevent groups based in its territory from carrying
out violence and acts of terrorism. It must protect the rights and security of
Tamils throughout the country and ensure violators are prosecuted. It must show
that it is ready to make the dramatic political changes to bring about a new
system of governance which will enhance the rights of all Sri Lankans, including
the Muslims. The international community will support such steps; failure to
take such steps will diminish international support.
The Co-Chairs recognize that both parties have responsibilities which they have
failed to deliver upon, including the commitments made at their meeting in
Geneva in February 2006. The LTTE is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks.
The Government has failed to prevent attacks of armed groups, including Karuna
and violent elements of EPDP.
The violence that has resulted is no longer confined to the parties to the
conflict but has spilled over to ruin or end the lives of innocent civilians.
This has led to a breakdown of law and order and the terrorization of the
affected population. Abuses of human rights have been assessed recently by the
UN and others. The Co-Chairs call on all parties to respect human rights and
pursue human rights’ abuses. This situation is not sustainable and the country
will continue its slide into greater conflict unless the two protagonists cease
all violence and resolve their differences through peaceful negotiation.
While the situation gives cause for grave concern, the Co-Chairs concluded that
the ingredients for a peaceful settlement remain present. The majority in Sri
Lanka still seek peace. All Co-Chairs renewed their commitment to do all
possible to help Sri Lanka in a manner that promotes peace and to support the
current Norwegian-facilitated peace effort. Other countries and organizations
share this view and wish to support the Co-Chairs’ effort. To this end, the
Co-Chairs will explore interest for allocating tasks to other groups of
countries to improve the efficiency of work within the areas defined by the
participants in the Tokyo Conference three years ago.
The Tamil and Muslim peoples of Sri Lanka have justified and substantial
grievances that have not yet been adequately addressed. The Co-Chairs encourage
the Government of the Sri Lanka to further develop concrete policies for
addressing the grievances of minorities and for building mutual confidence
between different communities. The Co-Chairs and the international community
will support the Government’s efforts towards implementing such policies.
However, three years of work since the original Tokyo Conference shows the
international community can only support but cannot deliver peace. Peace can
only be delivered by Sri Lankans themselves. The Co-Chairs’ role can be
meaningful only where those parties want to help themselves in bringing peace
with commitment and honesty.
Both parties have agreed to the basic principles of any future peace during the
successful period of negotiation in 2002-2003. The parties should recommit to
these principles set down in the Ceasefire Agreement, the decisions from the six
rounds of talks, and the meeting in Geneva in February 2006. In this context,
the Co-Chairs will support any solution agreed by the parties that safeguards
the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, assures protection and fulfils the
legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people and indeed of the Muslim people,
guarantees democracy and human rights, and is acceptable to all communities.
Norway has prepared a number of initiatives for the parties to return to talks,
which will be issued shortly. The Co-Chairs endorsed these initiatives.
The solutions to the problem cannot be brought through conflict – the history of
Sri Lanka shows that war is not winnable for either side and simply causes
immense suffering to the citizens. Finding solutions requires political
commitment, imagination and spirit of compromise and the responsibility for this
lies solely with the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE.
The Co-Chairs reiterate their support for the important role of Norway as
facilitator to the peace process and the ceasefire monitoring activities of Sri
Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in an increasingly difficult situation. At the
same time, it is necessary to examine how to strengthen the role of SLMM.
The Co-chairs note that over $ 3,400 million has been provided by donors based
on Tokyo pledges and tsunami funds, and more than 20% of that assistance has
been allocated to the North and East including LTTE controlled area. Such
assistance has contributed to improving the livelihood of people in Sri Lanka.
As long as the commitment to the Ceasefire Agreement by both parties is proven
by way of their actions, the international community will continue its
assistance in addition to humanitarian aid. As improvement of health, education
and development is important as confidence-building measures, the Co-Chairs
could also provide funding to support the efforts to meet these critical needs.
The Co-Chairs reaffirm that a continuous and positive involvement of the UN, Red
Cross, and civil society, including the NGOs, in the peace process is vital.
However, there has been increasing criticism of and even open attacks against
these actors lately. The Co-Chairs condemn absolutely these attacks. The
Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE should ensure their protection so their
positive work for Sri Lanka can continue. The Co-Chairs will follow up closely
the findings of the agencies involved in monitoring human rights, such as the UN
Three years ago at the original Tokyo Conference, the international community
was requested to support the peace process. The key elements to this process
were the facilitation by Norway, the monitoring role of the SLMM, the Co-Chairs
and substantial aid flows from a multitude of donors. The international
community remains committed to its supporting role agreed three years ago but it
turns to the government and LTTE to deliver on their side of the bargain if war
is to be avoided.