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Home > Tamil Eelam Struggle for Freedom >International Frame of the Tamil Struggle > European Union > Exchange of Letters Between the European Union and the International Federation of Tamils >
EUROPEAN UNION & THE TAMIL STRUGGLE
Exchange of Letters Between the
International Federation of Tamils
To: European Commission External
Relations Directorate General,
17 December 2005
We thank you for
your letter of 27 October 2005 and for your
assurance that the European Union is committed to following
a balanced approach in relation to the conflict in the
island of Sri Lanka.
Here we would like to persuade you that the assessment of the Australian Member of Parliament, Ms Virginia Judge after a visit to the Tamil Eealm in September this year is more in accord with the reality on the ground. She said in the Australian Parliament on 15 September 2005 (after a visit to Tamil Eelam) -
We now turn to the four specific matters that you have referred to in paragraph 3 of your letter under reference, namely the failure of the LTTE to respond to your repeated calls to -
We believe that it will be helpful if we
address each of these four matters separately.
1. On the question of renouncing violence, the Ceasefire Agreement of February 2002 suspended the resort to violence and paved the way for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. The Ceasefire Agreement did not require the LTTE or for that matter, Sri Lanka to renounce resort to violence in the event of a complete break down of negotiations.
On the contrary, Clause 4 of the Agreement provided that the Ceasefire may be terminated by either party giving notice of termination to the Royal Norwegian Government and that such notice shall be given fourteen (14) days in advance of the effective date of termination.
Clearly, both the LTTE and Sri Lanka retained the option of resuming the armed conflict in the event of the negotiating process reaching a dead end.
Again whilst it is true that Sri Lanka has resorted to violence to secure its territorial boundaries and impose its rule on the Tamil homeland, it is also true that the armed resistance of the LTTE arose as a last resort against decades of oppression by the Sri Lankan state and its agencies.
Given these circumstances, we would suggest that whilst it is entirely appropriate to call upon the LTTE and Sri Lanka to abide by the terms of the Ceasefire Agreement, it would be neither appropriate nor balanced to call upon one of the parties, the LTTE, to renounce violence independently of the outcome of the negotiating process.
In April 2005,
Dharmeratnam Sivaram was himself murdered. In February
2005, Mr.Kausalyan, the LTTE political leader and
coordinator for Tsunami relief work in the Eastern part of
the island of Sri Lanka and Mr. Ariyanayagam Chandra Nehru,
former Member of Parliament and founder of the Northeast
Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR) were murdered. The
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned the killings
as a setback to the peace process.
We suggest that an even handed approach
would demand that the European Union explicitly call upon
Sri Lanka to comply with
clause 1 (8) of the ceasefire agreement and disband all
paramilitary groups – unfortunately, it is this which the
European Union Declaration of 21 September 2005 failed to
Here, we are particularly mindful of the comments of the International Red Cross in its Introduction to the Optional Protocol, in May 2000 -
Given this legal frame, it is unfortunate that Reports such as those by Human Rights Watch failed to distinguish beween under 15 year olds and under 18 year olds in relation to recruitment of ‘child soldiers’ by the LTTE. Additionally, there is a need to examine carefully the alleged facts relating to recruitment because much of the evidence appears to have been obtained at the instance of a Tamil paramilitary group supported by the Sri Lanka government.
There is also a further circumstance which the various reports have failed to consider. It is important to recognise that the LTTE administers a de facto state within the lines of control recognised by the Ceasefire Agreement. Some persons recruited by the LTTE serve in the administrative services of this de facto state – and these include the judiciary and court, school of law, police stations, police academy, medical and technical colleges, small industries, a community bank and children's homes. It appears to us that such employment is lawful – and given the conditions prevailing in these areas both humane and warranted.
4. We do recognise the importance that is attached to political pluralism. The freedom for several political parties to freely function within the confines of a state, is admittedly a fundamental feature of a functioning democracy.
At the same time, all states (without exception) also have laws against treason to protect the state itself against subversion. Treason is the crime of disloyalty to one's nation. A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. Political pluralism does not mean that a state is called upon to condone or permit treason or its own subversion. In the case of Sri Lanka, in addition to the laws against treason, the 6th Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution outlaws a political party which espouses (even peacefully) the creation of a separate state in the island of Sri Lanka.
The 2002 Ceasefire Agreement was founded on the basis that Sri Lanka and the LTTE controlled different areas of the island – and on the basis of the existence of a defacto state in part of the Tamil homeland. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe remarked in Parliament on 4 March 2002 –
We take the view that in the case of a de facto state, with a functioning judiciary and court, school of law, police station, police academy, medical and technical colleges, small industries and a banking system, political pluralism cannot be given a different meaning to that given in a dejure state. Again, given the ceasefire, and given the existence of lines of control recognised by the ceasefire agreement, it would seem reasonable that pending a final resolution of the conflict, the continued existence of either party (and the territories within its control) is not undermined by subversion.
It appears to us that within these constraints, the LTTE has permitted political parties to function within its area of control – such as for instance TELO, Tamil Congress, and ofcourse the Tamil National Alliance. However, we suggest that political pluralism does not extend to permitting the functioning of political parties whose avowed objective is to overthrow the defacto state, particularly where they are also members of armed para military organisations supported by Sri Lanka.
We agree with your statement that we are at a crucial moment in the peace process. Indeed, if that was so on 27 October 2005 (the date of your letter), it is more so today at a time when the Sri Lanka President has reneged on that which his country agreed upon at Oslo in December 2002 – and also reneged on the P-TOMS agreement which Sri Lanka had signed on 24 June 2005.
Having said that, a crisis such as the
present one may also hopefully lead to a meeting of minds –
and create opportunities to progress the cause of justice
and peace. The question is whether two peoples sitting
together as equals cannot agree upon political structures
which protect each of their perceived interests. There may
be a need to telescope two processes - one the creation of
an independent Tamil Eelam and the other the terms in
which an independent Tamil Eelam state may associate with an
independent Sri Lanka, so that the national security of each
may be protected and guaranteed.
Commission External Relations Directorate General,
To: International Federation of Tamils 18
rue des Paquis
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner forwarded to me your letter concerning the EU Declaration issued on 26 September. I have taken due note of your concerns and I thank you very much for sharing your reactions with us.
As indicated to you in my earlier letter, the European Union has always been committed to a peaceful and sustainable solution to the Sri Lankan conflict, guaranteeing the rights of all ethnic minorities. We have followed a balanced approach and we have listened and will continue to listen to all parties involved, including the LTTE. Commissioner Patten met with Mr Prabhakaran when he travelled to Sri Lanka in November 2003. Commissioner FerreroWaldner intended to meet him when she visited the island on March 2005 but he was unable to receive her. I also had several discussions with Mr Tamilselvan over the last years.
In all these instances we have repeatedly called for the LTTE to renounce violence, stop political killings, put an end to child soldier recruitment, allow for political pluralism in the North and East of Sri Lanka. However, in the three and a half years since the Ceasefire Agreement was signed, the LTTE have given very few signs of evolving from a military to a political organisation. On the contrary, recent signals point to a hardening of their stance.
The international community acknowledges the responsibility of all parties, especially the two signatories to the Ceasefire Agreement, to make progress towards a peaceful settlement of the Sri Lankan conflict. However, at this crucial moment in the peace process and in the aftermath of Foreign Minister Kadirgamar's assassination, there is an impending need that the LTTE further demonstrate its commitment to peace through progress on the key issues that I highlighted above. I hope you will consider using your good offices to convey this message to them.
To: Hon Prime Minister, Government of UK (The Office of the Presidency of EU)
also in PDF
27 September 2005
Urgent appeal/Sri Lanka
EU STATEMENT ON SRI LANKA - AN IMPEDIMENT TO PEACE PROCESS
The International Federation of Tamils (IFT), wishes to express, on behalf of the Tamil Diaspora, its shock and exasperation at the lopsided EU statement on “Terrorism in Sri Lanka,” issued on 26.09.05 condemning the LTTE.
The IFT wishes to point out to the EU, the plausible damage the “European Union Declaration condemning terrorism in Sri Lanka (26/09/05),” could bring to the peace process at a time when the extreme Sinhala nationalist terrorism is rearing its fierce head again in the southern parts of Sri Lanka. With the Presidential election propaganda machinary at its full swing, the extreme nationalist Sinhala elements rallying behind the Presidential candidate, Mahinda Rajapakse are clamouring for the abrogation of Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) facilitated by Norway and the P-TOMS, recommended by the CO-Chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference.
From the Election Propaganda platforms these elements are making loud appeal to the outside world to ban the LTTE in all countries. With their anti-Tamil slogans, they are also urging the Sri Lankan armed forces to resume war against the LTTE. Now, they are going to misconstrue the EU Declaration as a vicarious moral support for their purported genocidal attempt. We wish to point out to the European Community that the EU Declaration may retard the peace process as well.
When Member States of the European Union gave asylum to Tamils two decades ago, it was in recognition of the fact that the Tamils faced annihilation in a genocidal rage of the extreme nationalist elements in Sri Lanka. The IFT fears the recent EU Declaration, inadvertantly, is going to encourage a similar rage which is in the brewing.
The Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) was forged between the Government of Sri Lanka acting on behalf of the Sinhala nation and the LTTE representing the Tamil nation and the Peace Talks were also held on the same equal basis. The international community, too, recognised and supported this understanding.
The decision not to receive any LTTE delegations into any of the EU Member States denies the Tamil people and the LTTE a chance to present, face to face, their case, predicaments and proposals to the EU countries. It also denies them of the chance to continue gaining firsthand information and values of the well established democratic institutions functioning in the West.
At a time when there are too many political killings taking place in Sri Lanka, it is unfair and unacceptable to arbitrarily choose one party to the peace talks and penalise it.
On behalf of the Tamil people, the IFT pleads with each Member State of the European Union to refrain from taking any punitive action against the LTTE, as it will affect all Tamils, both at home, as well as in Europe, and will obviously jeopaordise the success of the peace process, also. The IFT pleads for restraint and understanding