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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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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative Geneva Talks & After > Geneva II Talks - Norway says that all three issues -  humanitarian suffering, military de-escalation and underlying political problems should be addressed simultaneously during talks

Tracking the Norwegian Conflict Resolution Initiative

Geneva II Talks
28 - 29 October 2006

�LTTE Said "YES" To Discuss Core Issues; But Sri Lanka Avoided It� � Tamil Selvan

. சுவிஸ் ஜெனீவாப் பேச்சுக்கள் - 2 இன் முடிவுகள் தொடர்பான ஊடக மாநாட்டின் ஒலித்தொகுப்பு நன்றி: ஐபிசி தமிழ்

No agreement reached in Geneva, Tigers respond on pluralism and democracy - LTTE Press Statement, 29 October 2006

Statement by the Norwegian Facilitator at Conclusion of Talks, 29 October 2006

Norway says that all three issues -  humanitarian suffering, military de-escalation and underlying political problems should be addressed simultaneously during talks, Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 29 October 2006

International community puts Lanka on red notice says Lasantha Wickrematunge in Sri Lanka Sunday Leader, 29 October 2006

Thamilchelvan on First Day Talks - No progress on Humanitarian issues, CFA, 28 October 2006
Peace process depends on ceasefire implementation - LTTE Opening Statement, 28 October 2006
Opening Statement by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Head of Delegation, GoSL, 28 October 2006

Geneva II Talks begin

LTTE delegation arrives in Geneva

LTTE Said "YES" To Discuss Core Issues; But Sri Lanka Avoided It� � Tamil Selvan
[Tamil Insight, 30 October 2006]

"We assured the Facilitators as well as the Sri Lanka Delegation we were ready to discuss the Core Issues they were talking about before arriving at Geneva. But the Sri Lankan Team avoided it from the beginning," said SP Tamil Selvan, the Leader of the LTTE Delegation to the Peace Talks at Geneva. The Head of the LTTE Peace Delegation thanked Ambassador Gramminger and the Swiss Foreign Office Officials for their hospitality and readiness to host the Talks, when they called on the LTTE delegation at the conclusion of the Geneva Talks Sunday evening.

�Switzerland is displaying interest and enthusiasm in a peaceful resolution to the conflict in our country and it is amply proven by its assistance to Norway by providing venues,� observed Tamil Selvan.

�The LTTE was quite ready to discuss even the core issues Sri Lanka was insisting on even before coming to Switzerland. Although we encouraged them, they would not broach the subject,� he said. The LTTE delegation had asked for the implementation of the CFA in full and strengthening of the SLMM which the govt team was trying to reject.

�All that we asked for was that the humanitarian considerations be given attention and the A9 Highway be opened, so that the human tragedy looming large in the Jaffna peninsula could be averted. How would the people of Switzerland feel if the Highways are suddenly closed and they are asked to commute only by river?� asked Tamil Selvan.

�By closing the A9 Highway, the Govt has made Jaffna Peninsula an open prison. They say they are taking foodstuffs in ships. Are they proposing to feed prisoners in an open prison?� the Leader of the Tamil delegation asked.

�We have not said �No� to future talks. We have only asked the Norwegian Facilitators to arrange for the opening of the A9 thoroughfare and ameliorate the sufferings of the civilians in Jaffna before setting the next date,� Tamil Selvan pointed out.

Tamil Selvan was also quick to point out that the Tamils living in Switzerland were expressing happiness at the treatment and consideration they were receiving, both from the Swiss govt as well as the Swiss public, for which Tamil Selvan expressed thanks on behalf of the Tamil National Leader, Velupillai Pirabhakaran.
No agreement reached in Geneva, Tigers respond on pluralism and democracy
[TamilNet, Sunday, 29 October 2006, 16:57 GMT]

The talks in Geneva ended without any joint agreement between the parties, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Sunday. The LTTE, citing the ISGA as an example, stated it is "more committed to the democratic principles" than the GoSL, challenged the GoSL to repeal the sixth amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution as a "token of its commitment" to democracy and pluralism. The LTTE also challenged the GoSL to remove its armed forces from the Tamil homeland and allow the holding of a referendum under international supervision to ascertain the aspirations of the people in the homeland. Welcoming the MoU signed by the two major political parties in the South, the LTTE also stated that the Tigers agreed to fix a date for next round of talks and asked the A-9 high way is opened before that date. The closure of A-9 constitutes a new "Berlin Wall," the LTTE said. The sixth amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution prohibits peaceful advocacy for a separate state.

Full text of the LTTE press statement follows:

October 29, 2006

Geneva talks October 28-29, 2006

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) met in Geneva on 28-29 October 2006 for talks under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Government. The talks were hosted by the Government of Switzerland.

The Co-chairs in August 2006 called the parties to cease hostilities immediately, to support and guarantee the security of the SLMM personnel and to take the peace process forward.

The LTTE in its opening statement addressed the urgent humanitarian crisis caused by the GoSL and its security forces. The LTTE maintained that one hundred percent implementation of the CFA and strengthening the role of SLMM will bring normalcy to the lives of the people in the homeland and help in taking forward the peace process to a satisfactory conclusion.

During the talks the LTTE pointed out the suffering of the people including access through highways and roads in all parts of the homeland. The LTTE stated that the closure of the A-9 highway has resulted in open prison for more than six hundred thousand people in the Jaffna peninsula under the occupation of sixty thousand Sri Lankan military personnel. The LTTE also pointed out the closure of A-9 constitutes a new �Berlin Wall�.

The closure of A-9 high way is a violation of the CFA and the right to free movement resulting in separation of family members and causing untold human misery. The LTTE further stated that providing food alone through sea routes is akin to feeding prisoners. No satisfactory explanation was given by the GoSL for the refusal to reopen the A-9. The LTTE stated that GoSL must be having a hidden military agenda. GoSL pointed out that the A-9 was closed earlier from 1994 to 2002. The LTTE responded that it was during the war and questioned the GoSL whether it wanted to push the people back into a war environment and a humanitarian catastrophe and to negotiate with the Tamils as a subject people.

The LTTE insisted on the implementation of the CFA and Geneva-I and strengthening of the role of SLMM. However the GoSL paid scant attention to the above. The LTTE expressed its disappointment and asked the GoSL to identify a document other than the CFA which has brought an end to the two decades of war and laid the foundation for the peace process.

The LTTE welcomed the MoU signed by the two major Sinhala political parties. The LTTE also stated that once the Sinhala polity reaches a consensus with respect to the resolution to the conflict, the LTTE will enter into political negotiations with the GoSL. The LTTE expects that by this time normalcy returns and a conducive environment created.

The GoSL raised the issues of democracy and pluralism in the homeland. The LTTE stated that it is more committed to the democratic principles than the GoSL and cited the ISGA as an example. The LTTE challenged the GoSL to repeal the sixth amendment as a token of its commitment to democracy and pluralism. The sixth amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution prohibits peaceful advocacy for a separate state. The LTTE also challenged the GoSL to remove its armed forces from the homeland and allow the holding of a referendum under international supervision to ascertain the aspirations of the people in the homeland.

The LTTE agreed to fix a date for next round of talks and asked the A-9 high way is opened before that date. However, the GoSL did not respond positively. The LTTE has requested the facilitators and the SLMM to use their good offices to have A-9 opened before fixing a date for the next round of talks.

Statement by the Norwegian Facilitator
[TamilNet, Monday, 30 October 2006, 07:23 GMT]

At the conclusion of the 2-day meeting in Geneva between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers, the Norwegian Facilitator issued a statement urging �both parties to allow themselves some time to reflect on the situation and not to draw hasty conclusions or take actions that could increase the suffering of civilians in Sri Lanka.� �Norway will be in ongoing dialogue with the parties to discuss all possible ideas on how to move the peace process forward,� the statement further said. Following is the full statement:

�Statement by the Norwegian Facilitator, Geneva 29 October 2006

�The consultations took place in Geneva on 28-29 October 2006 following requests by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to meet to discuss humanitarian issues and political questions. At the Co-chair meeting in Brussels on 12 September, the Tokyo co-chairs (EU, Japan, USA and Norway) encouraged the parties to meet for consultations.

�Parties deserve recognition for accepting this call by the co-chairs, coming for these consultations at a time when conflict is more apparent than peace in Sri Lanka.

�The parties agreed that the peace process will need to address the three following areas:

1) Human suffering
2) Military de-escalation and reduction of violence
3) Political components leading up to a political settlement

�The Government presented the political process between the UNP and the SLFP. The international community has welcomed this initiative. The GOSL also made a reference to the work of the All Party Conference.

�Discussions were also held on the urgent humanitarian situation and the need to address the plight of a very large number of civilians. Several issues were discussed. The LTTE requested the A9 to be opened. The Government refused to do so at this point. No agreement was reached between the parties on how to address the humanitarian crisis.

�No date for a new meeting was agreed upon. Norway will be in ongoing dialogue with the parties to discuss all possible ideas on how to move the peace process forward.

Both parties reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire agreement and promised not to launch any military offensives. The international community has repeatedly expressed that it expects the parties to show restraint and fulfill these commitments.

�I encouraged the parties to allow themselves some time to reflect on the situation and not to draw hasty conclusions or take actions that could increase the suffering of civilians in Sri Lanka.�

Norway says that all three issues -  humanitarian suffering, military de-escalation and underlying political problems should be addressed simultaneously during talks - Sri Lanka Sinhala Owned Sunday Times, 29 October 2006

With their opening statements over, representatives of the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) locked horns over a formal agenda for the two day talks that began in Geneva yesterday.

The Government delegation insisted that contentious political matters be thrashed out first while the LTTE urged that humanitarian issues take precedence eventually leading to the talks opening without a formal agenda. Norway�s International Development Minister Erik Solheim spelt out three main areas which the international community believes should be addressed during talks. Mr. Solheim explained that the issues cannot be taken separately and must be addressed simultaneously. They are-

* The humanitarian suffering in Sri Lanka. There must be a relief to all those who are suffering from displacement, war, killings, and simply a return to normalcy for all communities.

* Military de-escalation. The culture of impunity when people are killed must be stopped. There must be a stop to all sorts of violence, be it terrorist attacks, military campaigns or human rights abuses of all sorts.

* There is no way the peace process can move forward for some time, without addressing the underlying political problems in Sri Lanka.

The talks began at the Varembe Conference Centre near Geneva after opening remarks by Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, Deputy Director at the Swiss Foreign Ministry. Thereafter Mr. Solheim made a brief speech in which he urged the two sides to show progress. It was open to the media and included a photo opportunity where Government delegation leader Nimal Siripala de Silva shook hands with the LTTE delegation Chief S.P. Thamilselvan. Thereafter the closed door sessions began. In his opening statement, Mr. de Silva said a political solution to the national question needed to be based on a consensus reached through dialogue among all parties. He said the Government hoped these talks would be the beginning of a productive dialogue and a fruitful exchange of view with all persons concerned.

He added that the foremost among issues were the restoration of democracy, political pluralism, meaningful devolution, human rights and economic development.

The thrust of Mr. Thamilselvan�s speech was to urge the international community, the Donor Co-chairs and the Norwegian facilitators to make sure �one hundred percent� the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement and strengthening of the role of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. �The list of miseries of our people at the hands of the Sri Lankan military and its paramilitary is very long indeed. The best we can hope for from the current talks is therefore, the strengthening of the CFA which has the potential to lead to a permanent, just peace in the island,� he said.

Norwegian facilitators who were ensuring that the talks remained on track were also consulting the two sides on dates for the next round, possibly in December this year and January next year.

Mr. Solheim during the opening session also spelt out what he said was four broad principles which the international community believes should be the basis of the solution to the conflict. They are - 

* Any solution should be based on what has been agreed on so far, which is what was achieved in the six sessions of talks in 2002-2003 and what was agreed in Geneva I.

* Any solution should be based on the Cease Fire Agreement, which should be upheld to the letter by both parties.  The legitimate aspirations by Tamils and all communities in Sri Lanka should be addressed as part of the solution, in accordance with the principles agreed in Oslo in 2002.

* Any solution should be within the unity and sovereignty of one Sri Lankan state.

An AFP report from Geneva said the government and the LTTE yesterday received a stern warning that they would lose international financial aid unless large-scale killings stop immediately. Peace broker Norway said the international community had virtually placed the Sri Lankans on notice to show progress in efforts to resolve the long-running separatist conflict.

�We have shown a lot of patience and we are prepared to show more, but the people in Sri Lanka and the international community will be impatient,� Mr. Solheim said at the start of the talks.He said the island risked losing huge foreign aid and goodwill unless the government and the LTTE worked towards a final political solution based on a federal formula agreed in December 2002.

Speaking on behalf of Sri Lanka''s key international backers, including the US, European Union and Japan, Mr. Solheim said the number of people killed in Sri Lanka in the past eight months exceeded the toll in Lebanon.

He said both sides had failed to keep promises made at the last round of talks in February and the killings had escalated. He blamed both the government and the LTTE for the bloodshed and said it was an �unwinnable war�.

International community puts Lanka on red notice says Lasantha Wickrematunge inSri Lanka Sunday Leader

War unwinnable for both
Humanitarian crisis must be addressed
Solution within federal framework
Halt military action, culture of impunity and acts of terrorism
Kohona, Puleedevan in luncheon meeting

In a hard hitting statement at the commencement of the peace talks in Geneva yesterday, Norwegian facilitator and Minister for International Development Erik Solheim warned that the international community was fastrunning out of patience and called for amilitary de-escalation, halt to the culture of impunity and all acts of terrorism with immediate effect.

The Norwegian Minister also stressed the opinion of the international community that the war was not winnable and urged immediate steps be taken to stop the human suffering of the displaced people. He said the international community wants to see progress in the talks without which Sri Lanka risks losing political and economic support.

The Minister told the two delegations that as a small country Norway was involved with the peace process for over seven years and acted with patience and will continue to do so though the sovereign people of Sri Lanka and the international community will not have the same patience.

Solheim further said the international community was of the view a solution must be based on the six agreements reached during the earlier rounds of talks and the Geneva 1 agreement respecting the unity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

The implication of Solheim's statement was that the international community expects a federal solution within a united Sri Lanka in terms of the Oslo Communiqu, which was one of the six agreements reached.

The talks commenced at the Conference Center Varembe in Geneva yesterday at 9.50 a.m. with a welcome address by the deputyhead of the Political Affairs directorate of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini.

The stage for the talks was set with the Norwegian facilitators on Thursday and Friday shuttling between the Epsom Hoteland the Royal Hotel where the government and LTTE delegations were housed respectively in a bid to finalise the agenda.

The LTTE insisted that the talks should be based on the humanitarian crisis and the implementation of the agreement reached in Geneva 1 including the ceasefire agreement while the government called for a discussion on the core issues within a definite time frame. The LTTE, it is learnt had also indicated that the opening of the A9 highway was a must in terms of the CFA if the talks are to progress.

Given the deadlock over the agenda, the Norwegian facilitators on Friday arranged a luncheon meeting between, Government Peace Secretariat Head, Palitha Kohona and LTTE Peace Secretariat Chief S. Puleedevan. The facilitators were represented by Special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer and Embassy official Erik Nuremberg.
Informed sources said Kohona had agreed at the luncheon meeting to discuss the humanitarian issues to break the deadlock.

Kohona told The Sunday Leader after the luncheon meeting he was optimistic of the talks and that both sides need to compromise in a bid to resolve the crisis.

LTTE Political Wing Leader S. P. Tamilchelvan told The Sunday Leader they would insist on discussing the humanitarian issues first including the opening of the A9 highway before any discussions on the core issues.

There was further separate discussions between Solheim, Hanssen-Bauer and the government and LTTE delegations Friday night to finalise the agenda and it was agreed that following the opening addresses by the two delegations, issues surfacing there from will be taken up for discussion with priority given to the humanitarian issues.

Solheim's hard-hitting comments at the commencement of the talks came in this backdrop.

He said the failure to implement some of the agreements reached during Geneva 1 has led to an escalation of violence resulting in over 200,000 people getting displaced and between 1000 to 2000 killed according UN statistics.

"This is equivalent to the killings in Lebanon. There have been a lot of human rights abuses, military campaigns and terrorist killings. Norway as facilitator is working closely with the international community and they are deeply concerned. They see a need for dialogue. There is no support for war. It is not winnable," he said.

Solheim also pointed out that the talks will be based on three issues, namely 1) the humanitarian suffering of the displaced people and killings, 2) military de-escalation, halt to the culture of impunity and terrorism and 3) a political solution.

He said no way can the peace process move forward without addressing the political issues.

Solheim further said the commencement of the talks provided a ray of hope and was a step in the right direction and that the international community expects a solution based on four broad principles.

"The solution should be based on the six agreements reached in the earlier rounds of talks and Geneva 1, it should be based on the CFA and implementing it to the letter, meeting the legitimate aspirations of all communities and within the unity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka," he said.

Ambassador Tagiliavini in her statement said developments in Sri Lanka in the past months have seriously endangered the peace process and caused considerable concern within the international community.

"Switzerland, as the depository state of the Geneva conventions feels it cannot forgo its responsibility to remind the parties to the conflict of their obligations to respect International Humanitarian Law, in particular to protect civilians from the effects of armed conflict," the Ambassador warned. Following these two statements, the government and the LTTE made their opening statements before adjourning for lunch.

  No progress on Humanitarian issues, CFA at First Day Talks -  Thamilchelvan
[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 October 2006, 18:07 GMT]

First day of talks in Geneva between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers, focusing on the urgent humanitarian issues and the re-opening of A9 concluded without the parties agreeing to any measures to relieve the humanitarian crisis in the Tamil homeland, Liberation Tigers Political Head S.P Thamilchelvan told TamilNet.

"We took up the humanitarian crisis in Jaffna as the urgent priority issue. Due to the economic blockade imposed by the Sri Lankan government, Tamil people are deprived of basic livelihood, humanitarian supplies are blocked, and the entire population in Jaffna has been denied freedom of movement. But, the Sri Lankan government was not prepared to relieve the population from the unfolding humanitarian catastrophy," Mr. Thamilchelvan said.

The GoSL team showed no flexibility in alleviating the hardships and maintained that sufficient food, medical supplies can be transported by the sea route and refused to consider the opening of A9, Thamilchelvan said.

"Secondly, we sought Colombo's stand on its commitment to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA). We maintained that access to demarcated forward defence lines (FDLs) by the members of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) was critical to bring normalcy. Sadly, there was no expression of cooperation from the Sri Lankan side," Thamilchelvan said.

The discussions on the re-opening of A9 and other humanitarian issues affecting the people of Northeast will again be taken up for discussions by the LTTE delegation on Sunday, he said.

Peace process depends on ceasefire implementation - LTTE Opening Statement, 28 October 2006

The Liberation Tigers called Saturday, 28 October 2006,  for the full implementation of the February 2002 ceasefire agreement (CFA), saying "such actions will bring normalcy in the lives of our people, and help in taking forward the peace process towards a satisfactory conclusion." Addressing the opening session of the Norwegian facilitated negotiations in Geneva, LTTE's Political Head, Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan, said: "the best we can hope for from the current talks is therefore, the strengthening of the CFA agreement that has the potential to lead to a permanent, just peace in this island. The international community has an important role in ensuring its implementation. The international community has the capacity to bring pressure on the GoSL, stop lending support to the GoSL for its ethnically motivated killings and end its assistance to the GoSL for its military offensives"

Full Text of Opening Speech by Mr. S.P.Tamilselvan, Head of LTTE Delegation

In the first instance, I like to express our appreciation to the Norwegian government for their tireless efforts to bring peace in the island and the government of Switzerland for hosting this talks.

Respecting the call by the Co-chairs, we have come here to yet again demonstrate our commitment for a just peace in the island.

Five years ago, on December 24th 2001, we unilaterally declared a one month long ceasefire. The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) remained indifferent to our peace gestures. The Norwegian facilitators made a concerted effort that resulted in the drafting of the CFA. Our National Leader and the then Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe signed it. The CFA was overwhelmingly welcomed by the international community. It is the only agreement signed by the two parties with the full backing of the international community. We hoped that this agreement which was based on the balance of power between the parties would bring an end to the decades long ethnic conflict in the island.

The constitutional excuse

Six sessions of direct talks were held during which many proposals were made to bring normalcy to the lives of the people in the war torn Tamil homeland. In order to enable the fruits of the CFA reach our people, we asked for an interim administration. Citing the Sri Lankan constitution, that too was opposed. Then the promised Subcommittee for Immediate Rehabilitation of North East (SIHRN) as the main body for creating normalcy was made ineffective. The actions of the GoSL were more focused on disturbing the existing balance of power and less on implementing the CFA. The hope for reduction in the militarization of the Tamil homeland and normalcy in people's lives remain elusive.

Following the failure of SIHRN and the stalling of the peace talks, mindful of the urgent need for improving living conditions in the war torn Tamil homeland, we formulated and submitted the Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) proposal. To prevent the resumption of the peace talks based on this ISGA proposal, parliament was dissolved by the then President. Elections were called. Tamil people voted in 22 representatives from the Tamil homeland, who contested the election seeking a mandate for the ISGA proposal. This represents more than 95% of the Tamil people in our homeland. But the GoSL, rejecting the voice of the people, refused even to discuss the ISGA.

It was at this time that our homeland was visited by the unimaginable tsunami tragedy in December 2004. It was our military and civil institutions, local and international non governmental organizations, and the Tamil Diaspora who came to the aid of our people. The Tamil homeland, in spite of bearing the biggest share of the tsunami tragedy, received only a meagre assistance from the international community, despite its pledge of huge Tsunami assistance. Promoted by bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors and facilitated by Norway, the Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (PTOMS) agreement was reached six months after the tsunami devastation. This agreement would have channeled aid from the international community to the people in the Tamil homeland and also would have enhanced the peace process. Yet, P-TOMS was also rejected citing the Sri Lankan constitution.

The recent ruling by the Sri Lankan courts that the merger of North and East was unconstitutional must be seen as part of this ongoing saga of the Sri Lankan judicial system coming to the aid of Sinhala majoritarianism. Northeast is the ancient Tamil homeland. It has remained so for centuries. The latest ruling by the Sri Lankan courts adds to the mounting evidence that a solution to the ethnic conflict cannot be found within the current Sri Lankan constitution.

Geneva-I and paramilitary

In 2005 Mahinda Rajapakse, portraying himself as a pragmatist, became President. At the beginning of 2006, President Rajapakse agreed to hold talks about the implementation of the CFA. Around this time the SLMM investigated and issued its report on the existence of paramilitary and possible collaboration between the paramilitary and the Sri Lankan military. From December 2005 until the agreement was reached in January 2006 to hold talks in Geneva, paramilitary violence rose sharply. The SLMM report on paramilitary failed to make even the slightest reduction in the escalating violence. A shadow war took hold throughout the island. We notified the international community about the developing alarming situation that was weakening the CFA.

At the Geneva talks, we published the uncontestable and ample evidence of paramilitary and army collaboration which was pushing the island away from the CFA. We warned of the excessive militarization of the Tamil homeland; the excessive use of civilian areas by the military including farmland, fishing shores, schools, places of worship and homes. We pointed out that through this collaboration our members and supporters were killed. Our political work in Tamil homeland permitted under clause 1.13 of the CFA had to come to an abrupt end as a result of this violence. With this evidence we requested the implementation of clauses 1.8 and 1.13 of the CFA.

Geneva talks ended with the agreement that the CFA must be implemented fully in order to take forward the peace process. The date for the next round of talks was decided. We emphasized that the fate of the next round of talks will depend on the actions taken to implement the agreement reached at Geneva I talks. For the sake of our people, we expected from the GoSL, sincere implementation of the CFA.

Aftermath of Geneva -I � the undeclared war

Sadly, none of the agreements reached in Geneva were implemented by the GoSL. On the contrary, the conduct of the GoSL continued to worsen the situation in the Tamil homeland pushing us and the Tamil people to extreme frustration. Some spectacularly blatant massacres by the Sri Lankan military of young people and babies in the Tamil homeland chilled the Tamil mind within and outside the Tamil homeland. The international community too began to express its horror on such barbaric activities. The Sri Lankan military, in view of the criticism of the international community, graduated from face to face massacre to artillery shelling and aerial bombing committing even larger scale attrocities against civilians. In Trincomalee and Batticaloa civilians were targeted from land, sea and air. The GoSL has now entered into an undeclared war. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have been forced to become displaced.

The EU ban on the LTTE arising from persistent pressure from the GoSL has allowed the GoSL and its armed forces to commit such acts with impunity. We warned on several occasions that such a ban will affect the peace process and the functioning of the SLMM. We pointed out this unfortunate situation and the SLMM understood. The GoSL's insistence on this ban and the demonisation of the LTTE demonstrates its disinterest in implementing the CFA and the peace process.

With the Geneva agreements unimplemented the Norwegian facilitators invited us to Oslo for a discussion about the work of the SLMM. We respected the work of the SLMM and valued its importance for implementing the CFA. We therefore accepted the invitation. In Oslo, direct talks with the GoSL delegation was made impossible because of the down graded composition of the delegation and in view of all agreements reached during all the previous direct talks remaining unimplemented. We said that we will not take part in any talks that do not result in normalcy in the lives of our people. We still held talks with Norway and the SLMM about the work of the SLMM. However, the GoSL, disregarding the importance of the work of the SLMM left without holding constructive discussions. On their return to the island, the violence by the Sri Lankan military continued with greater intensity and carried on its undeclared war.

It was at this time, following the Co-chairs meeting held in Tokyo, the Co-chairs called on the GoSL to end the paramilitary violence and increase security for the people throughout the island. They welcomed our keen interest in the peace efforts. Supporting our efforts, the Tamil Diaspora living in 15 countries together staged "The voice of Tamil rights" events recognizing us as the representative of the Tamils to fulfill their yearnings and aspirations.

The intensity of the undeclared war in the Tamil homeland continued to increase. The EU ban on our organization, sadly, contributed towards this intensification. Our people are facing the kind of misery they have not faced during the four years of the CFA period. The Sri Lankan military attacks in Trincomalee and Vaharai were targeting our military bases. The situation dented the patience we have exercised. We were forced to take defensive actions against the limited attacks of the GoSL. Our attacks were solely intended to halt the attacks of the Sri Lankan military.Mavilaru

The Mavilaru issue in Trincomalee was a continuation of this GoSL stance. The issue began as a dispute in the access to water between the Tamil and Sinhala communities. Tamil people of the area accused discriminatory practices in water supply and development. In order to draw attention, they protested by closing the Mavilaru sluice gate. Since this sluice gate was in the area under our administration we tried to resolve it through negotiations. The issue could easily have been resolved by a civil service official by approaching the people to find out their problems and addressing them. The GoSL ignored this civil approach for a civil dispute and attempted to open the gate through military means. Several fronts for military offensives were opened. It began firing artillery shells into our areas. We were forced to take action to stop this military offensive. Since the Sri Lankan military artillery firing and movements were made mostly from the Muthur area it controls, we took action against the Sri Lankan military positions in Muthur. Sri Lankan military accused us for the civilians killed by its artillery fire. In this situation we returned back to our original positions.

During this time we discussed the issue with the Norwegian special envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, who was in Kilinochchi at that time. Following his advice it was decided to open the sluice gates in our areas that were closed, accompanied by the SLMM. We went to the location with the Head of Mission of the SLMM. Knowing very well that we were going there for this purpose, the military fired artillery shells at us. The lives of the Head of Mission and of the other monitors of the SLMM were put in danger. They returned without completing the mission. The next day we opened the sluice gates.

The approach adopted by the GoSL to handle the civil dispute created is part of GoSL's hidden military agenda. Its approach, using 10,000 troops for this attack was intended to remove our presence from Sampur in Trincomalee. The SLMM commented, "This attack is not for water but appears to be something else". True to the suspicions of many, the GoSL took over areas that were under our control and by that action effectively withdrew from the CFA.

Military offensives

Where ever the military offensives were launched we took the SLMM to the site for investigations. In particular the SLMM has accepted that the offensives in the east were started by the Sri Lankan military. The offensive that was going on in Trincomalee and Amparai shifted its theatre to the Muhamalai Forward Defense Lines (FDL) in Jaffna. The military closed many of the 16 routes that the parties agreed to keep open in clause 2.7 of the CFA. The A9 route, the only land route to Jaffna, was also closed. Supply to Jaffna was completely cut off. The Muhamalai offensive continued and non-stop curfew was imposed in Jaffna. The daily lives of the people have been seriously affected. The GoSL maintained that the offensive was started by us. We have repeatedly requested the SLMM to visit the FDL and conduct its investigations. We gave the SLMM security assurance and freedom of movement according to CFA clauses 3.8 and 3.9. The Sri Lankan military has continued to refuse to let the SLMM monitors visit the site to make their determination. As a result the work of the SLMM is weakened. Exploiting this, the military is continuing with its offensives.

It was in this dire situation and context, we agreed for unconditional direct talks as a good will gesture, on request from the Norwegians and the Co-Chairs. The GoSL while agreeing for unconditional talks after dragging its feet, has continued with its military offensives and aerial bombardments. It attempted to force an all out war on us prior to the talks. It's offensives continued in Vaharai area. We warned that if the GoSL attempts another large scale offensive on some false pretext we will be forced to reexamine our decision to attend direct talks.

We persisted with our request to reopen the A9 route in view of the civilian misery caused by the closure and assured our full cooperation. The GoSL ignored our goodwill gestures and launched a new offensive at Muhamalai. We were forced to take defensive action from our military positions. The Sri Lankan military was forced to halt its offensive after facing huge losses. It continues to pay scant regard to the misery of the people in Jaffna.

Denying access to humanitarian workers

Humanitarian workers are prevented from accessing the 50,000 refugees in Vaharai. Even the plight of the tsunami affected people fails to move the GoSL. Several humanitarian agencies assisting the tsunami affected people were forced to halt their work because the GoSL restricted fuel and building material coming into these areas. Four specialist doctors belonging to MSF working in a hospital in Jaffna were evicted. The services provided by these four medical specialists were paramount to the hospital. Another team of medical specialists brought by the ICRC to work in the Kilinochchi hospital were also denied permission. The Kilinochchi hospital presently has no medical specialists.

The People

The killing, disappearance, abduction and displacement of civilians by the Sri Lankan military are continuing while an internationally backed CFA is in force.

Since Geneva I talks the Sri Lankan military, using the paramilitary as cover, has killed 870 civilians and has caused disappearances of 408 civilians. Among them 98 are children. People complain of inability to sleep when dogs bark at night as military goes past. The atmosphere is particularly frightening in Jaffna. Two young toddlers sleeping between the parents were killed with the parents in Allaipiddy; a two year old toddler was shot dead with her father as he was holding his daughter;17 employees of Action Against Hunger NGO were murdered in Trincomalee after they were told to lie on the floor. At least 100 and perhaps more than 300 children have been abducted by the paramilitary with assistance from the Sri Lankan military in Batticaloa and Amparai. At the Geneva talks, the GoSL delegation leader said that investigations were continuing about the abductions of the TRO workers, the murder of five University students and the Murder of Member of Parliament Joseph Pararajasingam and the culprits will be brought before the courts he said. What has happened to these investigations?

The indiscriminate bombing and shelling has taken away equal number of civilian lives. 53 school girls were killed when they were at a school camp in Mullaithivu; two babies were among the dead in another bombing in Puthukkudiyiruppi; and a near term fetus in mothers womb died as shrapnel from shelling pierced the mother's stomach in Batticaloa.

181,643 people are displaced in the Tamil homeland. Many of the displaced in Trincomalee are denied assistance from INGOs and NGOs who have been barred from entering these areas; many are living under trees in rain; mothers are giving birth to babies in the rain; parents get up at night when it rains to hold something over the heads of young children; people left behind crops which they grew with borrowed money and they can no longer repay the debt. 81 schools were either destroyed or not functioning due to displacement. This is in addition to 68 schools that were already not functioning due to take over of land for military purposes.

The closure of the A9 route and the resulting near starvation are cruel and deliberate actions. Babies are not getting the milk they need which could permanently affect their development; fishermen have lost their livelihood by the night time curfew; farmers are unable to grow crops due to curfew, tense situation, lack of fuel and denial of seed import. Daily wage earners are unable to earn a living, their families facing near starvation.

The ban imposed by the military on import of fuel into our areas and fuel shortages in Jaffna has restricted the functioning of major hospitals in these areas. It is not hard to imagine the effect of fuel shortage on the functioning of hospitals in areas where even the electricity is generated using fuel.

The list of miseries of our people at the hands of the Sri Lankan military and its paramilitary is very long indeed.

The best we can hope for from the current talks is therefore, the strengthening of the CFA agreement that has the potential to lead to a permanent, just peace in this island. This CFA has the unique distinction of lessening the threat of resumption of the three decades long war. The international community has an important role in ensuring its implementation. The international community has the capacity to bring pressure on the GoSL, stop lending support to the GoSL for its ethnically motivated killings and end its assistance to the GoSL for its military offensives.

We welcome the participation of the GoSL delegation in this talks. We hope they will take a firm decision to take all the necessary actions to alleviate the misery of the people in the Tamil homeland.

We request the international community, the Co-Chairs and the Norwegian facilitators to act to ensure one hundred percent the implementation of the CFA and the strengthening the role of the SLMM. We are confident that such actions will bring normalcy in the lives of our people, and help in taking forward the peace process towards a satisfactory conclusion.

Opening Statement by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Head of Delegation, GoSL, 28 October 2006 [also in PDF]

I. Introduction

Honorable Minister Erik Solheim, the Special Envoy Mr. Bauer members of the SLMM members of the LTTE delegation, Colleagues:

On the last occasion when we assembled in Geneva in February 2006, the delegation of the Government of Sri Lanka, on behalf of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa, expressed the hope that our discussions would open a fresh chapter in the dialogue between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. We came here with much hope and optimism. It was also an opportunity for the LTTE to become familiar with the general approach and methodology of His Excellency, Mahinda Rajapaksa to the ongoing conflict, which is based on the concept of a just and honorable peace. The fact that we are meeting today for a second round of discussions is a reflection of our continuing commitment to this approach. At all times the Government of Sri Lanka has been ready and willing to continue with the dialogue and we are indeed grateful to the international community and governments of Switzerland and Norway for making the stalled discussions once again a reality. We thank the co-chairs for their continuing support for the peace process. We thank the government of Switzerland for its generous hospitality and warm support.

Our discussions last February were frank and open. No doubt, there were difficult moments. But such moments are often present in talks of this nature and is not a reason for discouragement, but an opportunity for parties to work harder at overcoming challenges in the interest of peace. We believe that the two days we spent together represented a small, yet important step toward developing an understanding to move the peace process forward towards a permanent settlement.

I would like to express the hope of the Government of Sri Lanka that our discussions over the next two days will help to build the required atmosphere and move the country forward to the realization of a just and honorable peace; a peace based on the principles of a true democracy and human rights. We must strive for a peace that can provide the foundation for economic development and progress in all parts of Sri Lanka and for all the people of our country. A peace that will deliver justice and fair play to all sections of the people, especially the Tamil community, in political, economic and social terms.

As H.E.the President said at the UN General Assembly in September � having been a human rights campaigner at the grass roots level throughout my political life, it was natural that my new government should be committed to carrying the message of democracy to all corners of our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country. Democracy, equity and prosperity is our clarion call.�

The President, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, has consistently adopted an approach that has enjoyed the fullest endorsement of a broad spectrum of political parties. The sweeping victory in the local government elections in April reaffirmed and strengthened the mandate that His Excellency, Mahinda Rajapaksa, received at the Presidential Elections in November 2005, to seek a just and honorable peace. The President�s approach to the peace process and the Government�s participation at the proposed talks with the LTTE in April 2006 received further support from a clear majority of political parties, including the main opposition party, during the All Party Conference (APC) held on 10 April 2006. Today the main opposition party, the United National Party (UNP) stands united with the Government thereby ensuring that over 90% of the voters at the last election are in accord with the President�s approach. At the All Party Conference, many of the political parties expressed the hope that the Government and the LTTE would be able to move the dialogue into more substantive issues so that a sustainable solution to the conflict could be discussed in a more meaningful manner.

It is unfortunate indeed that the Geneva talks did not take place in April 2006 as scheduled, for the Government had hoped to progress rapidly to an environment in which substantive benefits could be discussed and delivered to the people.

The government had been ready to come to Geneva but the LTTE had without cause refused to resume talks in Geneva, despite repeated efforts by the facilitator and other well-meaning intermediaries. Even after being taken to Oslo in June 2006 at the cost of the Norwegian government, they refused to talk to the government delegation.

Nevertheless we are glad that the LTTE has sent a delegation here today to resume our dialogue with them. We reiterate the Government�s strong commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Since April 2006 His Excellency the President and the Government of Sri Lanka have taken a number of initiatives to facilitate the realization of a negotiated settlement to resolve the national problem. Significant among them is the endeavor to develop constitutional proposals with broad support. The main aim has been to find an indigenous solution that will lead to an end to the decades of internal strife, and enable all people to live in dignity and peace in Sri Lanka.

The Government has emphasized the fact that the task of finding a political solution to the national question requires a multi-party effort and an inclusive approach. In this context the formation of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) and the appointment of a Panel of Experts on 11 July is a significant step in reaching a national consensus among political parties.

At the Inaugural Meeting of the APRC and the Panel of experts on 11 July 2006, The President H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse stated, �any solution needs to as a matter of urgency allow people to take charge of their own destiny. This has been tried out successfully in many parts of the world. There are many examples from around the world that we may study as we evolve a truly Sri Lankan constitutional framework including our immediate neighbor India. Improving the lives of Sri Lankans all over the country is our ambition. Improving the lives of the impoverished in the North and the East is a priority.�

The mandate given to the APRC and the Panel of Experts as outlined in the President�s speech is to �fashion creative options that satisfy the minimum expectations�as well as provide a comprehensive approach to the resolution of the national question� He wished them success �in their collective endeavor in formulating a political and constitutional framework for the resolution of the national question�.

The aim of the Government is to engage the various political parties discuss their different approaches and through their deliberations arrive at a broad framework that will generate consensus.

The APRC and the Panel of Experts have met on a regular weekly to bi-weekly basis and have confirmed that they have made significant progress in their deliberations. The APRC is expected to produce its report shortly.

Strengthening the political process, the Government initiated discussions with the main opposition party, the United National Party (UNP), on 15 September 2006 primarily to facilitate reaching political consensus in the South. Discussions were based on a 6-point common minimum national agenda put forward, consisting of: peace, good governance, electoral reform and social development. The two parties have signed an MOU on 23 October 2006. The UNP in the MOU extended its support to the government �in its pursuit of a negotiated settlement to the on-going conflict while opposing terrorism in all its manifestations and upholding human rights�. The strengthened political consensus in the South is a significant step in formulating a new constitutional framework for the resolution of the conflict and in particular one that will address the needs of the people in the North and the East.

It is against the backdrop of this widespread support, and in accordance with the consultations the Government has undertaken with the political parties, that I am leading the Government�s team today, to present you with the government�s view of the developments of the recent past, its vision for the future, and its expectations for moving the peace process forward. It also gives us pleasure that the LTTE has expressed its agreement to discussing the core issues with a view to resolving this vexing problem.

II. Objectives for October 2006 Talks

At the outset, it is important to set our meeting here in Geneva in context, in order to understand the nature of the approach that the Government would like to take in these negotiations. We do not wish to treat this forum as an opportunity to score debating points or as an opportunity to make legal submissions as in a courtroom. We do not want to argue back and forth about details of various incidents, or present academic arguments. The opportunity that we have here today in Geneva is one where we can address core issues and address the challenges that lie in the way of a peaceful future.

If we want these talks to be of relevance beyond these walls, if they are to be meaningful for our people, there is an urgent need to address the issues of democracy, human rights, and economic development, and thereby ensure that all the people of our country will enjoy the same rights. It is our responsibility to move beyond peripheral constraints and to begin taking steps towards a permanent peace in Sri Lanka and in particular address the aspirations of the people of all our people, in particular, in the East and the North.

The government, reflecting its commitment, is here today despite, I repeat, despite the horrendous campaign of terror and violence undertaken by the LTTE in the period since April. A total of 897 service personnel have been killed since Geneva I, that is the period from 24th Feb to 17th October 2006. Many were killed indiscriminately, while being unarmed. Many while going on leave. The LTTE have been responsible for a total of 1363 killings including civilians in the same period. These figures when compared with the total number of killings by them between February 2002 to 17th October 2006, make it apparent that in the period since the Geneva talks of February 2006 there has been an alarming rise in violent incidents in which the LTTE have blatantly launched provocative attacks on the security forces as well as civilians. It is also disturbing to find that the LTTE have systematically assassinated other Tamils who chose to differ from the views held by the LTTE, leaving no room for any other Tamil political voice to be heard.

They also killed the Deputy Head of the Peace Secretariat, a man of peace and an intellectual � an act of alarming barbarity.

At the same time the recruitment of children by the LTTE for military purposes has continued unabated, paying scant respect to the abhorrence expressed by the international community, including the UN Security Council, to this appalling practice. Since the Geneva talks in February 2006 the level of violence was rapidly escalated when LTTE deliberately denied water to over 60,000 civilians by closing the Mavil Aru sluice gate in July 2006. This was an act of senseless callousness.

In an act of blatant ethnic cleansing, the LTTE evicted the Muslims from Muttur in August. It is indeed ironic that the LTTE which complains of minority discrimination and hardship should ruthlessly target the Muslims, another minority community mostly of Tamil speakers. We recall that its campaign of ethnic cleansing commenced by forcing 90,000 Muslims and all the Sinhalese from the North in 1991, later the Muslims from Mannar and thereafter the LTTE concentrated on methodically victimizing Muslims living in the East.

The violence and endless carnage unleashed by the LTTE in the post Geneva talks period is well documented. Many of the major incidents show a high degree of brutality and complete disregard of human conduct. The most recent suicide bomb attack by the LTTE on 16 October 2006, that killed more than 100 unarmed Navy personnel going on home leave and injured more than 100 others as they rested, along the Dambulla � Habarana road, has shocked the national and international community. The outrage of many nations has been expressed in no uncertain terms over these most ruthless and barbaric killings.

The GOSL is all the more dismayed and shocked over the LTTE�s violent designs aimed at deliberately contriving an ethnic backlash by provocations of this nature in the Sinhala majority areas and selecting civilian areas.

The most horrendous act was on 15 June when the LTTE detonated two claymore mines aimed at a private bus carrying civilians at Kebithigollewa killing at least 64 and injuring 84. Among the dead were 15 children, 2 Buddhist monks, and pregnant women going to their regular clinic and injuring 87 civilians.

On 21 July, The LTTE in an act of deliberate sabotage and savage violence, forcibly closed the water supply from the Marvil Aru sluice gate, denying water to 15,000 families and 30,000 acres of paddy, depriving a population of over 60,000 of their livelihood and sustenance. Many children were denied access to schools.

On 02 August, LTTE infiltrators launched an attack on Muttur. Shelling and artillery fire by the LTTE killed civilians and displaced 53,000 thousand others. These people were mainly Muslims. There is no doubt that these offensives were launched by the LTTE with a view to evicting the Muslims from this area. The government, to its credit, has been able to re-settle them in their homes within a very short period.

There has been an attempted claymore bomb attack on a bus carrying civilians at Kebethigollawa, near the town of Anuradhapura yesterday. It is also reported that the LTTE in Akkarapattu in the East, attacked an STF truck at 0800 hours Sri Lanka time, injuring STF personnel.

The LTTE has also launched an attack on a Police Post at Vavuniya on the Mannar Road this morning while we talk in Geneva.

Despite these provocations the GoSL delegation as instructed by H.E the President has decided to continue the dialogue.

I wish to emphasize to the LTTE not to consider our commitment to the peace process as a sign of weakness � but as a reflection of our strong commitment and belief in peace for all the people in Sri Lanka and in particular for the people in the North and East.

In the face of almost daily provocations, the Government Security Forces have exercised utmost restraint. By doing so, the Government demonstrated its commitment to peace and encouraged an atmosphere that would lead to peace negotiations. It was in the face of repeated attacks by the LTTE by way of claymore mines, artillery fire and killings that the Government was compelled to engage in limited defensive operations in the interests of security.

III. Democracy

As we expressed in the Opening Statement of the last round of talks, the Government is deeply concerned with ensuring that each citizen of Sri Lanka is able to enjoy the benefits of a democratic society, where their rights are respected and they can pursue their occupations and develop their communities. Unfortunately, this is not the reality today. In certain areas of the North and the East, due to the actions of the LTTE, it is well known that individuals are denied their basic democratic rights. Individuals are denied the right to express their opinions, to elect their leaders, to live their lives freely. Academics are threatened and murdered for being independent in their thinking. We should move beyond the current situation of denial and forge a positive outcome in the interest of the people of the North and the East.

As we all know, the majority of Tamil people, approximately 54%, live outside the areas where the LTTE is dominant. The majority of the people who live in the uncleared areas undergo untold deprivations. Unfortunately, such people are further victimized by the denial of their civil and political rights, by the imposition of unconscionable levies and other forms of extortion, and by subjection to inhumane punishments for expressing dissent. These reasons underlie the preference expressed by the majority of the Tamils to live in government-controlled areas and is evidence of their utter dissatisfaction with the LTTE.

To address this situation, the Government of Sri Lanka believes it is essential that certain normalization steps should be taken in the context of the peace process:

First, political parties should be given free access to all parts of Sri Lanka, which include the uncleared areas as well as the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts. They should be able to campaign, express dissent, have offices, and operate free of intimidation, threats, and violence.

Second, democratic institutions should be allowed to function freely and without interference. This includes all offices of the Government of Sri Lanka, including its judicial and law enforcement institutions.

Third a single mechanism of law and order should be able to function throughout the country, in order to effectively enforce laws and prosecute criminals. This requires providing access to the Police personnel to certain areas, which are currently denied to them, such as the districts of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi.

Fourth the groundwork for full democratization of the North and East must be laid. All levels of society, from political leaders to students, could be involved in a process of exploration and discussion, the concept of free expression, on the substantive issues surrounding democracy, including issues of devolution and power-sharing.

These tasks have to be undertaken by us. These initial ideas of the Government could be further explored and developed during our discussions here this weekend. The Government of Sri Lanka attaches utmost priority to this issue because ultimately, achieving an honorable peace requires strengthening the democratic norms and processes in the North and the East. In this context, the Government is happy to note the fact that certain LTTE groups contested the local government elections and entered the democratic processes in the Trincomalee District, Batticalao District and in the Wanni. We hope that this trend will progress so that the LTTE leadership could continue to move into the democratic mainstream. We are also delighted that many groups who had formerly resorted to arms are now part of the democratic process.

IV. Human Rights-Initiatives by the Government

It is the government�s wish that the global principles of human rights will be established in the East and the North as well. The government acknowledges that the situation in the South needs improvement in certain respects and all measures are being implemented to achieve this. As a developing country, although our resources are limited, we will take all possible measures to ensure that the highest standards are achieved.

A Ministry of Human Rights and Disaster Management has been established for the first time.

The following steps have also been taken.

1. The Standing Committee on Human Rights to deal with allegations of human rights violations by the Police and Armed Forces and to provide policy guidance to the GOSL on various human rights issues has been reconvened. 2. An Inter-ministerial Committee on Human Rights chaired by the Minister of Human Rights and Disater Management which meets monthly together with senior officials from the Police and Armed Forces and all relevant Ministries has been formed. The Terms of Reference for the Committee encompass a multi- dimensional reach to include regular consultations with the above agencies as well as civil society, international agencies and national human rights institutions, in a concerted effort to meet problems and arrive at effective resolutions

3. A firm commitment exists in ensuring that the language policy is properly implemented.

4. The Committee is in the process of looking into the proper implementation of the language policy to ensure that the Tamil speaking people are able to enjoy their constitutional rights in a practical sense.

5. The needs of IDP�s are being met with a comprehensive memorandum of understanding signed between the GOSL and UNHCR in order to implement effective strategies and confidence building measures between communities.

6. The Government has further shown its committment to upholding human rights and the rule of law by appointing a Special Commission to look into abductions and killings in the country. It is in the process of setting up a Commission of Inquiry to Investigate serious violations of human rights and also the setting up of an International Group of Eminent Persons who will act as Observers of the Commision.

7. Recently the Government initiated regular consultations between relevant government Ministries and agencies and INGO�s and NGO�s working in the North and the East in particular in order to alleviate problems and facilitate their work in these areas in order to ensure that the needs and rights of the civilian population are met.

8. The government has supplied Jaffna with over 18,000 tons of food and other supplies by ship though the LTTE has refused to assure the safety of the ships. If the LTTE agrees to assure the safety of food ships, much larger quantities could be sent quicker and efficiently under the ICRC flag.

9. The districts of Killinochi and Mullativu have been supplied with adequate supplies of food and medicine. There are no shortages.

10. While the government wishes to supply Jaffna also with all its needs, due to the wanton denial by the LTTE of security assurenaces and other acts of violence this cannot be achieved.

Human Rights Issues In the North and the East

The Government has serious concerns in relation to the human rights situation in the North and East.

In certain areas dominated by the LTTE, human rights are flagrantly violated. These violations have been extensively documented by numerous international organizations and foreign governments. Human rights violations include the denial of the rights to personal liberty and due process of law; to freedom of thought, expression, organization, and movement and to freedom from discrimination. It is a sad fact that four years of a ceasefire have not helped the people living in these areas to make any progress toward realizing their rights. Children continue to be recruited for armed combat and UNICEF statistics as of September 2006 indicate that 5769 cases of known underage recruitment have taken place since 1994 LTTE.

It is also highly distressing that the LTTE is continuing its fund-raising activities through extortion and intimidation chiefly to procure weapons-not only in overseas locations such as Canada, Europe and other Western countries, but also among Tamil people in the South of Sri Lanka. The recent Human Rights Watch report (Vol. 18 No.1 �) documents these nefarious activities. A continuous stream of complaints is also being received about such activities aimed at Tamil citizens living in the South, and the amounts involved in these acts of extortion and ransome are staggering. It is strange that the LTTE is so keen to stifle the activities of the Tamil business community. Once again we reiterate that these issues must be seriously addressed in our talks.

V. Humanitarian Considerations

a) Security

The Government has also on many occasions escorted and provided humanitarian assistance to LTTE cadres, including the evacuation of sick persons.

b) Government Assistance to IDP�s

The Government has consistently discharged its responsibilities towards internally displaced persons, although many are the result of the violence inflicted by the LTTE.

The IDP�s have essentially been the result of LTTE attacks near civilian centers, sometimes based on ethnic considerations. On other occasions civilians have been used as convenient shields by the LTTE for their violent acts including in Muttur and Vakarai as has been pointed out by the SLMM. The government, recognizing its responsibilities, provides extensive assistance and protection to all internally displaced persons.

It readily facilitates the work of international and domestic humanitarian organizations engaged in assisting the IDPs.

The government has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the UNHCR in September 2006 on Guidelines on Confidence Building and Stabilization Measures for IDPs in the North and East, based on the UNHCR�s mandate in Sri Lanka. It is the Government�s intention that these Guidelines will lead to a specific, results � oriented programme of action that can be effectively and efficiently implemented.

The government has adopted a national framework for relief, rehabilitation, and reconciliation (RRR) based in part on the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Its objectives are to help strengthen the Government�s capacity 1) to ensure that the basic needs of people affected by the conflict are met. 2) To build productive means of livelihoods, and 3) to facilitate reconciliation across ethnic lines. Considerable success has been achieved in pursuing these policies.

The Government, in ensuring the continued supply of food and other forms of humanitarian assistance to the internally displaced persons living in uncleared areas, has created an unique precedent in the annals of conflict. Sri Lanka appears to be the only country in the world that accepts responsibility to feed its displaced citizens wherever located despite evidence that some of the food and medical supplies are being siphoned off by the LTTE.

The district and sub-district administrative offices functioning in uncleared areas are funded by the Government � this includes the salaries of Government Agents, Divisional Secretaries, Grama Niladaris and administrative staff.

The Government provides these services and amenities from revenue collected from the public in the rest of the country as the revenue from the North and the East at present is less than 0.1% of the total revenue of the country.

In the latest figures on ongoing projects in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, which include both tsunami and non-tsunami projects, there has been a total allocation of US$ 1283.10 Million comprising loans US$ 673.8 Million and grants US $ 609.3 Million.

More than 50% of the foreign funded projects are based on loans granted by international institutions and foreign governments to the Government of Sri Lanka, which is then required to repay these loans. It is the Government that bears the burden of funding the development of the North and the East and repaying these borrowed funds.

c) Language Policy

The GoSL has taken a number of initiatives to implement the official language policy. As outlined The Policy Statement of H.E. President Mahinda Rajapaksa made on 25 November 2005 at the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament.

1. A three-year crash program will be launched to expedite the full implementation of the official language policy in police stations, government offices and other public places and minimize obstacles that Tamil-speaking people face when dealing with the state organizations.

2. Presidential Directive dated July 7, 2006 requires police officers to strictly comply with the instructions that a statement of a person arrested should be recorded in the language of his/her choice. Special units will be set up in all police stations to enable to people to make complaints in their own language without fear or suspicion. A decision has been taken to enlist the services of former public servants and civil society members in police stations, which do not have translation facilities in both official languages.

3. With regard to the salient issue of the bilingualization of staff grades in the public service, a Sub Committee consisting of the Chairman Public Administration, Secretary Ministry of Justice and National Integration, Commissioner-Language Commission meets regularly to submit recommendations to the Cabinet. All public servants will be required to acquire a working level of proficiency in Tamil.

4. A proposal for a National Institute for Language Teaching and Training has been presented to Cabinet on 25th October 2006 and is being implemented.

5. Arrangements have been made for the Ministry for Human Rights to carry out a nationwide audit on the implementation of the Official Language Policy in order to assess shortcomings and address them accordingly.

VI. Transgressions by the LTTE


We now possess very clear evidence that the LTTE is continuing to improve and expand an illegal and clandestine airstrip in Iranamadu and construct two other airstrips in Mullativu. So far, the LTTE has not permitted the SLMM or the Government of Sri Lanka to officially inspect these premises or take steps to dismantle these facilities. As a Sovereign nation, we have obligations towards the international community and the discharge of such obligations would be seriously compromised if facilities of this nature were allowed to remain in the hands of terrorist organizations such as the LTTE. We are firmly of the view that these illegal facilities are being established with the intention of perpetrating acts of violence, and may well be used to destabilize our entire region. Hence, it is not a matter that could be treated lightly and in the interests of all concerned it is vital that this facility be dismantled forthwith.

We would caution that such illegal facilities, which has been established contrary to international regulations, be dismantled before any serious harm is caused. In the past, the LTTE has been known to have recklessly carried out acts of violent aggression in our region, affecting the interests of foreign states not involved in the conflict, including the assassination of a former Prime Minister of India, publicly acknowledged by the LTTE, and the destruction of a Chinese vessel with death and injury to its crew. Therefore, we wish to treat this violation with extreme seriousness by reason of its far �reaching nature. These must be immediately dismantled.

Recruitment and Abduction of Children

The LTTE also continues to engage in violent acts against civilians, including the recruitment and abduction of children. According to SLMM figures, the majority of ceasefire violations committed by the LTTE are acts committed against civilians; most of these constitute human rights abuses. The high numbers of human rights violations that take place, without any corresponding sanctions or punishments against the perpetrators, creates a climate where the violations would continue to increase rather than decrease. We would urge the international community to take greater note of the magnitude and gravity of this situation and to encourage the LTTE to cease perpetrating these abuses. Let us all be conscious of the fact that the victims of these abuses are our own citizens and fellow human beings whose basic rights are being violated.

Of particular concern to the Government of Sri Lanka is the recruitment and abduction of children to be used as child soldiers. We discussed this grave issue during our last meeting in Geneva but could not conclude our discussion on the matter. The Government believes it is important to take up this question at this round of talks as well. It was clear from our discussions in February, supplemented by the contribution made by the Head of the SLMM, that the recruitment and abduction of children constitute serious violations of human rights. In response, to our concerns Mr. Balasingham stated that the LTTE would take all measures to completely stop the recruitment of underage children and that the LTTE would cooperate with UNICEF and other international humanitarian agencies to ensure that children are not in any way involved in this armed conflict.

Yet in the past months, this pledge has been utterly disregarded. Underage recruitment has continued unabated. The number of children known to UNICEF that have been recruited by the LTTE between February to September 2006 is recorded at 397.

In fact, only a few days after the February 2006 meeting in Geneva, several children escaped from the LTTE and described the oppressive conditions that thousands of children have been forced to endure as soldiers. The most recent UNICEF report states that since the beginning of the ceasefire through the end of September 2006, there have been 5769 children, known to UNICEF, that have been recruited into the LTTE ranks.

Another serious concern of the Government is the nonchalant manner with which the LTTE disregarded the pledges and promises it has made on the issue of child soldiers. The LTTE has cited the Action Plan for Children Affected by War as evidence that it is cooperating with UNICEF on releasing children in their ranks. Yet the most recent Progress Report on the Action Plan states conclusively that the LTTE has dishonored the commitments it had undertaken in relation to the release and rehabilitation of children. The LTTE�s repeated empty assurances and promises cast serious doubt on the sincerity of the LTTE in fulfilling the commitments it undertakes.

Child recruitment has been condemned by the UN Security Council under Resolution 1612 (2005). The LTTE has been included in Annex 11 of the Resolution, which lists parties that recruit or use children in Situations of armed conflict. The annex also states that the LTTE has been responsible for the abduction of children. The UNSC resolution 1612 draws attention to include the protection of children in armed conflict as an important aspect of any comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict.

In any civilized society, even the kidnapping of a single child is viewed with horror and tremendous revulsion. The fact that the LTTE has been able to abduct and recruit more than 5000 children, according to the UNICEF figures, and yet not be subjected to any sanctions, is a sad reflection on the languid state of the international conscience. It is therefore time for us to make progress to ensure that this practice is discontinued.

VII. Development

The ceasefire should have ideally created conditions for the rapid development of all parts of the country. Economic development requires, the essential right of access. Unfortunately, access to certain parts of the North and the East is still being denied and thus the people are deprived of benefits of such development. The LTTE, by denying physical access to areas, which they dominate, such as the districts of Killinochchi and Mullaitivu, are depriving the people of these areas the opportunity of enjoying the benefits of development. In addition the LTTE�s intransigence has prevented the government from using its capacity to assist people living in areas affected by the Tsunami. The massive levies that are illegally imposed on economic activity have also led to a stifling of the economic growth. These and other restrictive measures have to be discontinued if economic development is to progress.

Despite all these obstacles and impediments an overwhelmingly substantial part of the humanitarian and infrastructural needs of the civilian population of the North and East, including conflict areas are currently met by the Government of Sri Lanka. Some assistance from the donor community is also available. The administrative machinery and infrastructure facilities in conflict areas are continuing to be maintained by the Government despite these difficulties.

State hospitals and State run health care centers provide a totally free service � both preventative and curative and are funded by the Government. The State meets the recurrent costs of Doctors� salaries, drugs, dressings and maintenance of hospitals. In the North and East, there are over 53 Hospital institutions with more than 4427 hospital beds providing free curative healthcare.

The State funds the education system, including schools, non-formal education institutions, and technical colleges and provides free education. The salaries of teachers, administrative, clerical and elementary staff are met by state funds. There are no private schools in operation in Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya, Ampara and Trincomalee. School children in these areas are entirely dependent on Government run schools for their primary and secondary education, which the Government continues to provide.

There are an estimated 1848 functioning state funded schools with over 700,000 students. These schools include 411 in Jaffna, 94 in Kilinochchi, 93 in Mannar, 187 in Vavuniya, 102 in Mullativu, 314 in Batticaloa, 388 in Ampara and 259 in Trincomalee. Thus 18.9% of the schools administered by the Ministry of Education are located in the North and East.

The Government of Sri Lanka is presently taking all steps to provide the essential services that people need in the uncleared areas. In fact, even today the Government Agents in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu are actively delivering all essential services. The salaries and pensions and other expenses of these services are fully met by the Government, and the Government also monitors these activities to ensure that the services reach the people as extensively as possible. However, given the hazardous ground conditions that prevail in these areas it is necessary for the LTTE to cooperate closely to ensure that these efforts are made more effective. Already, massive programs for housing, roads, bridges, electrification, livelihood development, hospitals, and schools have been planned. The completed projects and other projects in progress and in the pipeline are valued at approximately 1,250 Million U.S. Dollars. This is a massive sum, and the investment of such an amount would need stable ground and safe conditions that are essential for the effective realization of the benefits of this vast investment.

In this context, the Government of Sri Lanka would very much desire to work with all interested parties, to ensure that people in all parts of the North and East have access to the improvements described here, and also to address the problems of those affected by the tsunami.

In relation to development, another serious issue is that many of the Muslim persons who were forcibly evicted from the North and the East by the LTTE have not yet been able to return to their legitimate places of residence to undertake their regular economic activity and this, too, needs to be addressed at a very early date.

VIII. Conclusion

The Government is committed to giving the highest priority to launching a reinvigorated peace process to usher in a sustainable peace, which will provide a lasting solution to the country�s national question. The political solution needs to be based on a consensus reached through dialogue among all parties. The primary aim is to end the decades of conflict and internal strife and to build a state that upholds the aspirations and rights of all sections of our society.

The Government hopes that these talks will be the beginning of a productive dialogue and a fruitful exchange of views with all persons concerned on the many substantive issues relating to this conflict that has taken a massive toll on the people of the country.

Foremost among these issues are the restoration of democracy, political pluralism, meaningful devolution, human rights and economic development.

The task of securing a durable and lasting peace is indeed a complex and a difficult one. It is also a dynamic process which calls for the development of innovative approaches, responsive initiatives and viable procedures and processes in order to provide remedies for existing anomalies underlying a deep rooted conflict.

The successful resolution of these problems would primarily depend on whether and how we could put an end to the destructive violence that has plagued our country for decades. Secondly, on how effectively we could proceed to the stage of constructive social engagement that will help to create the necessary infrastructure that will help to underpin and safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka to enable the restoration of amity and goodwill among all sections of our People in order that they may inherit and enjoy the immeasurable happiness and benefits of peace. The Government of Sri Lank, consistent with the Mahinda Chintanaya, extends the hand of friendship to the LTTE and invites them to renounce the path of violence, enter the democratic process and join the political mainstream and help the long-suffering People of our Country, belonging to all ethnic groups, to end their misery and enable them to live fulfilling lives.

H.E the President, Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse has said clearly that he will go the extra mile in search of peace � a dignified and honorable peace. Where a Sri Lankan model of devolution will be devised for an undivided country to address the root causes of this conflict. It will also be a model, which will be consistent with regional geo-political realities.

Geneva Talks II begins
[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 October 2006, 10:37 GMT]

"Developments in Sri Lanka in the past months have seriously endangered the peace process," said Switzerland Foreign Affairs Deputy Head Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini who gave the opening address wishing the facilitator and the Parties better understanding, in Geneva Saturday. Stressing the need for "confidence in the Norwegian Government as facilitator seeking ways to lead the delegations to a better mutual understanding, confidence in the other Party as a partner with whom one can engage," Ms. Heidi Tagliavini said the International Community the recent developments in Sri Lanka have caused considerable concern within the International Community.

"Switzerland, as the depositary State of the Geneva Conventions, feels it cannot forgo its responsibility to remind the parties to the conflict of their obligations to respect International Humanitarian Law, in particular to protect civilians from the effects of armed conflict," added the deputy head of the Political Affairs Directorate, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs at the Conference Center Varemb�.

"The confidence in one's own ability to discuss, to propose solutions and exchange one's own perspective is important to the success," she added.

Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim said the agenda for talks was three fold: Humanitarian Issues, the Ceasefire Agreement concerning the military situation on the ground and issues concerning the Political resolution. Jon Hanssen-Bauer, the Norwegian Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, led the parties to negotiation table.

[L-R] Vidar Helgesen, Hans Brattskar, Heidi Tagliavini, Erik Solheim and Jon Hanssen-Bauer

Norwegian Ambassador in Colombo Hans Brattskar, former Norwegian State Secretary Vidar Helgesen and officials of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission also joined the facilitators.

Head of Tamileelam Police, B. Nadesan, LTTE Military Spokesman Irasaiah Ilanthirayan, Director of LTTE Peace Secretariat S. Puleedevan, Deputy Head LTTE Women's Political Section Thamilvili, Translator Mr. George, New York based Legal Advisor to the LTTE, V. Rudrakumaran, and Dr. Manuelpillai Paul Dominic comprised the 8 Member LTTE delegation for talks.

Sri Lankan Ministers Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Rohitha Bogollagama, Ferial Ashraff, Secretary General of Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat Dr. Palitha Kohone, former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandra Fernando and the two lawyers who appeared counselors for the JVP petition that led to the recent ruling by Sri Lanka Supreme court on NorthEast de-merger, Gomin Dayasiri and H.L.de Silva comprised the Sri Lankan delegation.



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