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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative Ceasefire Agreement Buried?: 2006 - 2007 > Sri Lanka abrogates Peace Agreement

Tracking the Norwegian
Conflict Resolution Initiative

Sri Lanka abrogates Peace Agreement

Government annuls Peace Agreement -Tamilnet Report - 2 January 2008
Government takes a policy decision to abrogate failed CFA,
Sri Lanka Defence Ministry
- January 2, 2008
Sri Lanka truce end deeply concerns Norway, BBC - 3 January 2008
Canada deeply regrets decision of Sri Lanka to withdraw from Cease fire Agreement, 3 January 2008
iTRO statement on Sri Lanka Withdrawal from Cease Fire Agreement, 16 January 2008
To the people of Sri Lanka; Thank you and farewell! - SLMM press statement 16 January 2008
Abrogation of Ceasefire Agreement Will Escalate Spiral of Violence - Joint Statement by Sri Lanka NGOs, 18 January 2008

Government annuls Peace Agreement - Tamilnet Report, 2 January 2008

Sri Lanka's President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces as well as the Minister of Defence, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has decided to annul the February 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE). Sri Lankan Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwela, has confirmed that a cabinet decision to withdraw from the CFA has been taken on Wednesday. But, he did not provide a date for the GoSL withdrawal.

The February 2002 agreement, in its paragraph 4.4, specifies that the agreement shall remain in force until notice of termination is given by either Party to the Royal Norwegian Government.

Such notice shall be given fourteen (14) days in advance of the effective date of termination.

Government takes a policy decision to abrogate failed CFA
Sri Lanka Defence Ministry - January 2, 2008

SL government has taken a policy decision to abrogate the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE says, official government sources.

Government defence spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella speaking to defence.lk said that, the government has taken a policy decision to not to have any further agreement with a terrorist outfit since Norway facilitated 2002 CFA has failed.

Speaking further he said, the attempts made so far to have a negotiated settlement with LTTE terrorists could bring no favourable results. Therefore he said that the government sees no point of having any attempt to come to a settlement with a terrorist outfit as the government is already in a negotiation process to address grievances of Tamil people with Democratic Tamil political segments.

Sri Lanka truce end deeply concerns Norway
BBC - 3 January 2008

Norwegian peace mediators say they are deeply concerned by Sri Lanka's decision to withdraw from a ceasefire agreement with Tamil Tiger rebels.
On Wednesday, Colombo said it was formally withdrawing from the accord because escalating violence had made the Norwegian-brokered truce redundant.

The accord came into effect in February 2002 ahead of inconclusive peace talks. Since mid-2006 troops and rebels have fought regular clashes, despite the deal still technically being in place. There was no immediate response from the Tigers, who want independence for Tamils in Sri Lanka's north and east.

Meanwhile, police and security forces have been put on alert across Sri Lanka.

'Deeply concerned'

Norway's Environment and International Development Minister Erik Solheim, who brokered the accord, said ending it was a "serious step".

"This comes on top of the increasingly frequent and brutal acts of violence perpetrated by both parties, and I am deeply concerned that the violence and hostilities will now escalate even further," Mr Solheim was quoted as saying on the Norwegian foreign ministry website.

"The Cease Fire Agreement [CFA] had been violated nearly 10,000 times by the Tamil Tigers, so we should annul this agreement," the cabinet's spokesman on security matters, Keheliya Rambukwella, told the BBC on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka is returning to a state of war

Mr Rambukwella said "national security was threatened at every corner" and the government had taken the decision "to uphold the national security".

He said that withdrawal from the CFA was not a declaration of war against the Tamil Tigers, and would be done in a way that does not breach the conditions of the agreement.

Under the February 2002 ceasefire brokered by Norway, both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers have the option to withdraw from the CFA after giving two weeks' written notice to the Norwegian foreign minister.

Last week, Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said in public that the truce between the two sides was "moribund" and that the CFA was a "joke".

Correspondents say that even though both sides acknowledged this to be true, neither wanted to be seen as the first formally to withdraw from the ceasefire.

Mr Rambukwella argued that the government had already taken steps to address the grievances of the minority Tamil community and was holding talks with moderate Tamil parties.

So far there has been no word from the Tamil Tigers on the government's announcement, but some analysts have warned that the development will only serve to polarise the two sides.

Meanwhile, security has been tightened across the island.

"We have raised an alert, especially in Colombo - we have deployed more men," news agency Associated Press quoted a police officer as saying.

About 5,000 people have been killed since early 2006, taking the total number of dead since the war erupted in 1983 to around 70,000.

Canada deeply regrets decision of Sri Lanka to withdraw from Cease fire Agreement, 3 January 2008

Statement by Canada

The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, issued the following statement following developments in Sri Lanka:

�Canada deeply regrets the decision of the Government of Sri Lanka to withdraw from the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement.

�Withdrawal from this important agreement will make the search for a durable political solution more difficult, and only increases the likelihood that the incidents of violence being carried out by both sides will increase.

�We remain deeply concerned about the impact of the escalating violence on civilians, humanitarian workers and human rights defenders. Violence will not produce solutions, it will only bring more tragedy to the people of Sri Lanka.

�We call on all parties to respect human rights and to work urgently toward political solutions that will bring peace to Sri Lanka.�

iTRO statement on Sri Lanka Withdrawal from Cease Fire Agreement, 16 January 2008

iTRO is shocked and concerned that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has unilaterally abrogated the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) it entered into with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in February 2002. The abrogation of the CFA by the GoSL will plunge the country back into all out war and the effects on the civilian population will be devastating.

This callous act has extinguished any hope that the international community and the Tamil people had in achieving a peaceful resolution to the Sri Lankan conflict and is the culmination of the GoSL's rejection of the legitimate expression of the Tamils' fundamental rights.

Restricting Humanitarian Relief and Removing International Witnesses

The current environment in areas controlled by the GoSL is well documented and the international community is aware of the atrocious human rights record of the GoSL: the rising human rights violations, the climate of impunity, the extra-judicial executions, disappearances, torture, a silencing of press freedom, an elimination of dissenting views by intimidation and death, a silencing of Tamil voices within and outside Sri Lanka, the assassination of Tamil Members of Parliament, and a political climate that stakes its survival on the expression of military might and an authoritative and hawkish administration. The abrogation of the CFA and the departure of the independent Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) will further exacerbate the situation by removing the one impartial third party witness that was able access the conflict areas of the NorthEast and make regular public reports.

Over the past two years the GoSL has sought to remove international organizations from the NorthEast so as to reduce the witnesses to the violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and to restrict the amount of humanitarian aid reaching the Tamil people. Many international NGOs have been forced to leave the country due to the pressures exerted on them by the GoSL and in some cases have been expressly ordered to leave by the government. Others have not had their international staff's work visas or work permits renewed and thus have had to leave the country or have been unable to access the NorthEast.

Over 50 humanitarian workers have been killed over the past two years, the Action Contra La Faim 17 and the TRO 7 were the two major incidences, and there have been numerous attacks on NGO offices and personnel. The GoSL has also sought to hinder the work of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) by first freezing its bank accounts and then by "banning" it.

These actions have been aimed at reducing the amount of humanitarian aid reaching the NorthEast and preventing the international NGOs and UN Agencies from speaking out for fear that they will be forced to leave the country. The intention of the GoSL is now unequivocal and signals the imminent humanitarian devastation of the Tamils of the NorthEast.

Development, Relief and the Diaspora during the CFA

Over the last 6 years international and local organisations have worked tirelessly to keep the hopes of peace alive despite the numerous threats to their personal safety. Humanitarian workers, media personnel, members of civil society and parliamentarians have been assassinated, executed, abducted and otherwise harassed by the GoSL, its affiliated paramilitaries and the state sponsored media.

During this period international and local NGOs, parliamentarians, peace builders, and UN executives have been accused of being "terrorists", "terrorist sympathisers" and of "funding terrorism" by the GoSL. Civil Society has been pressured through intimidation and executions to prevent any effective humanitarian interventions. All avenues for the protection of Tamils and their right to life with dignity have been systematically eliminated. Now, even the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), a strong witness to atrocities against Tamils, has been forced to leave.

The unilateral withdrawal by the GoSL from CFA has effectively closed the door to development for the people of NorthEast. The GoSL has also seriously hampered the delivery of relief and rehabilitation to the war and tsunami affected populations over the past 2 years and the Tamils areas lag far behind in tsunami recovery with Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) reporting that its investigations reveal that over US$535 million have gone missing in Sri Lanka.

After the signing of the CFA the International Community encouraged the Tamil Diaspora to become more directly involved in the peace process and development. The Tamil Diaspora contributed time, expertise and funds to help alleviate the suffering of the civilian population and deliver the expected "peace dividend".

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and some countries over the past two years have actively sought to restrict the ability of the Tamil Diaspora to provide humanitarian assistance to those in the NorthEast. This is due to the negative campaigns and propaganda of the GoSL that attempt to characterize all Tamil voices critical of the GoSL as being "terrorists" or "terrorist supporters".


iTRO appeals to these countries to allow space for the Tamil Diaspora to provide much needed humanitarian assistance to their people. International organizations have been restricted in their ability to access the affected areas and deliver the necessary relief and the GoSL has restricted food, medicine, fuel and construction materials to the Vanni. As a result in many areas TRO is the only organization with access to the war and tsunami affected populations.

iTRO wishes to clearly state that the IC, through its policies and the exertion of power and influence, has had a significant degree of influence in engineering and steering the course of this conflict and the failed "peace process" to its current state of affairs and thus is culpable and must accept some responsibility for the impending calamity that is facing the Tamils.

Arjunan Ethirveerasingam
UK Mobile: +44 77 58 649 198
Skype I.D.: arjunan1

iTRO London
500 Sunleigh Road, Wembley, HA0 4NF, UK
Tel No: + 44 (0) 208 733 8283

To the people of Sri Lanka; Thank you and farewell! - SLLM

SLMM press statement 16 January 2008-01-16

Today, January 16 2008, marks the final day of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) period in Sri Lanka, that has lasted for almost six years. The Agreement signed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in February 2002 outlined the mandate for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, as a tool to watch the CFA implementation. Thus, the abrogation of the CFA also implies the termination of the SLMM. In practical terms, this means that the Nordic monitors will leave Sri Lanka today and early tomorrow morning, leaving behind only a few personnel to wrap up administrative obligations related to the closing down of the mission.

A short recap of history
During the first years of the CFA period, there was seemingly a general spirit of cooperation between the Parties. Violations were relatively few. But lack of progress on critical issues nurtured distrust between Parties, giving set backs in the peace process. Gradually the conflict level increased, involving more military activities, more violence affecting civilians, more signs of insecurity, and more displacement of people. Today, the ground situation displays a reality very far from what is outlined in the CFA.

The SLMM reality
The purpose of SLMM presence in Sri Lanka has all the way been to support the peace process. Defining how best to implement the potential of the SLMM mechanism, has however at times been a huge challenge. As the conflict level gradually increased, the mission re-evaluated its approach, pursuing strategies and working procedures relevant to the situation. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission has been appreciated and slammed, loved and hated, over these six years. Some have expressed their support, saying; �Without the SLMM we will be doomed�, or �Without the SLMM many more lives would have been lost�, or �We are scared for what will happen if SLMM leaves Sri Lanka�. Others have preferred to portray SLMM as powerless, inefficient and utterly biased.

The final report
The SLMM has been present in the North and the East of Sri Lanka, as well as in the capital, every single day for nearly six years. Through on the ground monitoring, we have learned to recognize and respect the complexity of the conflict. Based on this knowledge, the final report from the operation is this:

The SLMM is absolutely convinced that this complex conflict can not be solved by military means. The Head of Mission finds it to be his duty to draw this conclusion as the operation is about to be terminated. It is not a task for the SLMM, however, to advice the parties to the CFA, nor other actors, how to find viable solutions. This has to be left to the people of Sri Lanka themselves � supported by facilitating actors of their choice.

Concluding remarks
The Head of the SLMM uses this final opportunity to thank the GOSL and the LTTE for inviting SLMM to serve them, in their search for a negotiated solution to the conflict between them. It is with sadness that we leave this resourceful and beautiful country at this point of time. It is hard to leave behind people all over the island that we have learned to know, and come to love and respect. We will miss out on the opportunity to further adapt and contribute in the present situation, - and we would like to believe that Sri Lanka misses out on something valuable too.

In the time to come, fortunately, many actors both inside and outside Sri Lanka, will continue to contribute to the search for a solution to the conflict. Hopefully, wise choices will be made at all levels by those who possess the power to make decisions.

Future heroes in Sri Lanka will be those who recognize the complexity of the situation, and prove able to manage this complexity in a way that reduces rather than increases human pain, fear and hopelessness � those capable of respecting people with different perceptions, and bringing them together. The SLMM will close its operation at 1900 hrs today.

To the people of Sri Lanka; Thank you and farewell

Colombo, 16 January 2008
Lars J Solvberg
Major General
Head of Mission
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission


Sri Lanka NGOs Joint Statement, 18 January 2008

Abrogation of Ceasefire Agreement Will Escalate Spiral of Violence

Joint statement by the Association of War Affected Women, Centre for Society and Religion, Centre for Human Rights and Development, Colombo, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Christian Alliance for Social Action, Consortium for Humanitarian Agencies, Equal Ground, Sri Lanka, INFORM, Home for Human Rights, Colombo, Human Development Organization, Kandy, Human Rights Resource Center, Kandy, International Centre for Ethnic Studies � Colombo, International Movement Against Discrimination and Racism, Law & Society Trust, Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, Mannar Women for Human Rights and Democracy, Muslim Information Centre � Sri Lanka, Muslim Women�s Research and Action Forum, National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, Rights Now Collective for Democracy, Setik, Kandy

The government�s decision to abrogate the Norwegian-facilitated Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) signed with the LTTE in 2002 is a matter of the gravest concern to the undersigned civil society organisations. Truces historically tend not to last long unless they culminate in a negotiated peace agreement. Unfortunately, the conflicting parties were not willing to negotiate a political solution using the point of entry to the peace process provided by the CFA that the government, the LTTE, and the people of Sri Lanka could build on. Instead of such negotiations, for the past two years the government and LTTE vocally supported a ceasefire but actually engaged in a high level of hostilities tantamount to war, including mounting human rights violations, the overrunning of forward defence lines, capture of territory, artillery, sea and air bombing, and the large scale displacement of people.

The signing of the CFA brought numerous benefits to the citizens of Sri Lanka. It ushered in a period of relative peace, allowing civilians directly affected by the conflict the opportunity to re-build their lives, homes and livelihoods. With the CFA, civilians from either side of the no man�s land could freely travel and feel relatively safe from the threat of war. The �no war, no peace� scenario that was a direct result of the CFA created not only the conditions for negotiations between the Government and the LTTE, but also an environment conducive for increased economic growth and external assistance to Sri Lanka as a whole.

As civil society organisations deeply concerned about peace and human rights we all supported the CFA. We were, however deeply concerned by the violations of the CFA, the violations of human rights and incidents of violence committed during this period; hence we saw the need for significant improvements on the CFA and its implementation. With the increasing violence and distrust that followed the collapse of peace talks, the parties came to recognize the need for the CFA to be strengthened and even amended, but were unable to come to agreement or to cease the bloodshed, resulting in a crisis of violence.

The government's decision to abrogate the CFA follows repeated demands by the JVP and other nationalist parties for its abrogation. Government members have said that the peace process and political talks will continue with non-LTTE Tamil parties. While there is a clear need to make political negotiations to find a settlement to the ethnic conflict more inclusive by including non-LTTE Tamil parties in political talks, it cannot be done at the cost of eliminating the LTTE from the dialogue. The danger inherent in the government's position, especially in the event of a total rejection of the past peace process with the LTTE, is that it is paving the way for a fight to the finish where the costs can be very high, success is not guaranteed, and no fall back position will be available.

We regret that the role played by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) established under the CFA has also come to an end with the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement. Although the international monitors of the SLMM were unable to prevent all acts of war and human rights violations from taking place, we recognize that the SLMM was a crucial third party that was able to be physically present in the conflict zones, record incidents, and report them to the conflicting parties and the international community.

The presence of the SLMM deterred further violence and violations and the SLMM�s removal now puts the populations in both the North and the South more at risk. The Government rejection of a UN Human Rights field presence, the inability of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) to make meaningful progress in discharging their mandates, and the inability of the National Human Rights Commission to fulfill its mandate and duties, combine to place respect for human rights in Sri Lanka in further jeopardy.

The abrogation of the CFA in the present circumstances will deprive the hapless civilians within the conflict zones of a credible authority to lodge complaints. This will also mean that it will be more difficult for individual incidents to be neutrally reported and verified, thus making it easier for armed actors to deny grievous violations and acts of violence. This gap will constrain the work of human rights and peace groups who have been pressing the conflicting parties to address the issues of impunity and end the violations of human rights. It may also lead to the exaggeration of incidents as each of the warring parties seeks to blame the other, making identifying the truth that much more elusive.

We are dismayed and deeply concerned at the situation in the country at the beginning of the New Year which has included the assassinations of parliamentarians, fierce fighting in the north and the displacement of civilians, and now the abrogation of the CFA and the negation of the institutions it set up.

We hope that this period of war and terror will soon come to an end, and reason and concern for human rights takes the conflicting parties back to the negotiating table and to end all armed hostilities, political assassinations and other criminal acts.

We urge all members of the international community who have been engaged in the advancement of peace through a negotiated settlement in Sri Lanka to stand by us at this difficult moment in our history and to use whatever modes of intervention they feel are appropriate to impress upon the government, the LTTE and all political actors in Sri Lanka the need to abandon the path of war and to return to a peace process immediately.



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