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

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Home  > International Relations in the Age of EmpireInternational Frame & the Tamil Struggle > Australia.& the Tamil Eelam Struggle > Australian Foreign Ministry to the Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations, 6 October 1995  

australia &
the tamil Struggle for freedom

Australian Foreign Ministry
to the Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations
6 October 1995

Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations
c/o Vanakkam Postfach 7908
6000 Luzern 7 Switzerland

Dear Mr. Anton,

Thank you for your letter dated 23 August 1995 addressed to Senator Evans concerning the political situation in Sri Lanka. Senator Evans has asked me to reply on his behalf, and I apologise for the delay in responding.

Senator Evans met representatives of the Australian Tamil community in Melbourne on 12 September 1995. The Tamil community's concerns were discussed in detail, and the Australian Government's position was outlined on a range of issues.

The Australian Government expressed strong disappointment at the unilateral decision of the liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to withdrawal the peace talks and resume armed conflict. The LTTE's justification for ending the Cessation of Hostilities on 19 April, which had been in force since January and had seen significant progress towards easing tensions, was not convincing and served to cast considerable doubt on the sincerity of the LTTE's stated desire for a peaceful settlement to the ethnic conflict. The ending of the peace process did nothing to resolve understandable complaints from the Tamil side about the pace of talks, the level of dialogue, and delays in the lifting of fishing restrictions and the supply of fuel and other commodities to Jaffna. Those issues should have been pursued through continuing dialogue, not by abandoning it. The LTTE's actions have set back the cause of peace and disappointed not only the international community but also the hopes of many ordinary Sri Lankans.

The Australian Government firmly believes that a negotiated settlement requiring patience and compromise on both sides is ultimately the only logical course to achieving a durable solution to the conflict. Neither side in this conflict will benefit from an escalation of hostilities. The Australian Government has never endorsed a military solution to the conflict, but equally it is not reasonable to expect the Sri Lanka Government to acquiesce in the face of renewed hostilities by the LTTE.

The Australian Government hopes that the Sri Lankan Government will exercise restraint in any military response it pursues and has urged both the Sri Lanka Government and the LTTE to take the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties. In this regard, the Australian Government expressed concern to the Sri Lankan Government over particularly tragic incidents where non combatant Tamil civilians have been killed in military exchanges, including the bombing of St.Peter's Church in Navaly and the reported deaths of 44 school children when a school was allegedly bombed at the village of Nagarkovil on 22 September.

The Australian Government has consistently supported a negotiated political settlement while continuing to recognise the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and the legitimacy of the elected Government. Australia welcomed the announcement on 3 August by President Kumaratunga of radical and wide ranging new proposals for constitutional reforms, which would devolve significant powers from the central government to regional administrations. The proposals address underlying causes of ethnic conflict and aspirations of the Tamil population. President Kumaratunga's announcement acknowledged that the Tamil people have legitimate grievances for which a solution must be found, and rejected the idea that military action alone could provide a lasting solution to the ethnic conflict.

The Australian Government hopes that the proposals will be seriously considered by all the people of Sri Lanka as the basis for a durable settlement to the conflict.

Australia is prepared to consider assisting a genuine peace process in any way that would be useful and acceptable to both sides, however, following recent discussions between Senator Evans and the Sri Lankan Government, there appears to be no obvious role for third party involvement at present.

Yours sincerely,

John Oliver

Acting First Assistant Secretary
South and South East Asia Division,
Department of Foreign Affairs, Australia



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