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Home > Tamil National Forum > Selected Writings - R.Shanmugalingam > Dear Mr.Secretary...
5 May 2001
|"Peace Dialogue in Sri Lanka Wanted? Then the US should stop arming and training Sri Lankan forces...Mr. Secretary, it is hoped that our government will stop, as a saying in Tamil goes, 'rocking the cradle and pinching the baby' and use its influence for the good of 'Sinhala Territorial Integrity' and the often forgotten or misunderstood 'Tamil Territorial Integrity' as well..."|
Secretary of State,
Dear Mr. Secretary
Peace Dialogue in Sri Lanka Wanted?
Then the US should stop arming and training Sri Lankan forces
Your belief 'the Sri Lankan conflict cannot be settled by military means, expressed by State Department spokesman Richard Boucher in the May 5, 2001 AFP Report under:
"WASHINGTON, May 4 (AFP) - US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday urged Sri Lanka and Tamil Tigers rebels to stop fighting and open a peace dialogue, as he hosted talks with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar."
augurs well for peace in that troubled island. Boucher further went on to express your hope,
"For this reason, the secretary expressed his hope that the two sides will make a commitment to cease hostilities and start peace talks as soon as possible."
Mr. Secretary, the Tamil Freedom Fighters unequivocally demonstrated their willingness to work towards peace with the monthly-extended cease-fire three times since the eve of last Christmas. That gesture was ridiculed by the Sri Lankan Government as a ploy and lost the golden opportunity for negotiation. It is obvious from their dedication in putting their lives on the line the Freedom Fighters should be the difficult party to cease hostilities, instead, it is the government that is determined to continue with the war. The following excerpt from a statement made by the LTTE merits mention here:
|"Now, we wish to ask the Minister
of Information and Media, who has crafted a lengthy indictment of the
LTTE which is full of misinformation and misrepresentation, as to who
has 'squandered a valuable opportunity for peace' over the last four
months when the Tigers ceased hostilities and waited for a reply from
your government. Undeniably it is the Sri Lanka government who destroyed
a unique opportunity for peace by invoking the hostilities and by
refusing to make peace , the LTTE's statement further said." It is now
absolutely clear that Kumaratunga Government has not abandoned its
notorious policy of 'war for peace' and therefore, well entrenched in a
strategy of military aggression and conquest of the Tamil homeland. It
is precisely the reason why the Government is opposed to creating
conditions of peace before peace talks. It is for this reason Chandrika
Kumaratunga has publicly proclaimed that 'goodwill gestures' or
'cease-fires are unnecessary for talks'. On this issue, the position of
our liberation organisation has already been clearly stated and well
documented. We are opposed to engaging in peace talks while entrapped in
a savage war. It is our committed view that there should be a cessation
of hostilities between the parties in conflict before the commencement
of talks , the Tigers statement declared.
The Norwegian proposal of the 'Memorandum of Understanding' was intended as a goodwill measure of mutual reciprocity towards de-escalation. The LTTE leadership accepted in principle the original text subjected to Sri Lanka's endorsement when it was presented to us in November last year. But the Sri Lankan Government sat on the document, delayed its response, even denied its existence and lately Mr. Laxman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, made alterations in the title, preamble and the content of the document imposing severe restrictions on essential items. i.e. petrol, diesel, cement and iron rods which needed further discussions, clarifications and agreement. It was only a few days ago on the 25.4.01, an amended version of the document was submitted to us for our study and approval. Still, there are issues to be clarified and agreed upon.
In the meantime, the Government deliberately escalated the conflict by launching a major offensive in Jaffna thereby triggering off the dynamics of a full blown war. This major escalation of the armed conflict, in our view, has created conditions that are, under the present circumstances, incompatible with the Norwegian project for de-escalation. The Sri Lankan government should bear the full responsibility for generating the current hostile situation that has severely undermined the Norwegian peace project and rendered the MOU as a futile exercise."
It is imprudent to speculate the direction of discussions Foreign Minister 'Kathirkamar' had with you, but the line 'Kadirgamar is a key figure in Sri Lanka's attempts to enter into a dialogue with the guerrillas' in the report leaves one with the impression, that the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister's diplomacy is far removed from accuracy. If he is a key figure, how come he imposes severe restrictions on the Tamil civilians under the control of the Freedom Fighters?
Mr. Secretary, it is hoped that our government will stop, as a saying in Tamil goes, 'rocking the cradle and pinching the baby' and use its influence for the good of 'Sinhala Territorial Integrity' and the often forgotten or misunderstood 'Tamil Territorial Integrity' as well - in one country of two separate nations with long histories of individual territorial claim and perennial calm. The US position on international terrorism is understandable, but her position on Tamil 'counter-state-terrorism' is unacceptable.
Cc: All Senators and All Representatives of the US House of Representatives