Onus on Colombo to create cordial atmosphere - Thamilchelvan

[TamilNet, Friday, 21 April 2006, 12:26 GMT]
Accusing Sri Lanka Government of reneging on providing established modes of travel, and proposing impractical travel procedure that showed scant respect for the security of the Senior commanders of the Liberation Tigers, the Head of LTTE Political Wing, S.P. Thamilchelvan in an interview to TamilNet Thursday said that violence is likely to spiral out of control if Sri Lankan forces do not urgently stop killing Tamil civilians in NorthEast.

TamilNet: Why did you consent to participate in the second round even in the absence of any significant improvement in the situation after the first round of talks?
Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan
Political Head of the LTTE S. P. Thamilchelvan

Thamilchelvan: Colombo is attempting to portray that the LTTE is against peace initiatives. We have not ruled out participation in the second talks. It is the GoSL and its armed forces that are bent on obstructing our participation. We do not hesitate to expose their unwillingness to fulfill their pledges made in the first talks and the GoSL attempts to disrupt the peace process.

TamilNet: Was LTTE delegation's safe travel to Geneva via Colombo guaranteed? What do you think about the liabilities involved in your travel when a state of emergency is in force?
Thamilchelvan: We do not travel on the assurance of the GoSL or its armed forces alone. Wherever we travel, we travel only if the arrangements are supported by international guarantee, adequate security precautions and assurances. As the holding of the second round of talks remain undecided we did not discuss the modalities in Thursday's meeting. Should such a need arise, we will engage in travel only after having secured the assurances.

TamilNet: Do you think that the Sri Lankan military establishment is trying to create internal rift between the soft and hard elements in the LTTE with the aim of precipitating the LTTE's unilateral withdrawal from the Ceasefire Agreement?
Thamilchelvan: There are no such soft or hard elements in the LTTE. Our organisation is a well-knit family, functioning as a single, undivided force under the guidance of our leadership. No one can create a crisis within the LTTE. They tried once and have failed. They are experiencing the consequence of their folly. But The GoSL has not given up its attempts.

Colombo has been continually attempting to drive the LTTE into war and force it to withdraw from the CFA. But the LTTE will never fall prey to their sabotage.

Our leadership will consider the situation carefully before taking any major decisions. We cannot remain patient forever.

TamilNet: What do you think the motive behind the SLA violence in the Jaffna district, such as the killings in Puthur.
Thamilchelvan: They are trying to subjugate Tamils by escalating the violence on them with wanton murders, rapes, abductions, extortions, restrictions and harassment. We also see this as their attempt to make us withdraw from the peace process citing their violence on the people.

TamilNet: Do you think that Colombo is engaged in an attempt to create a conflicting situation between the LTTE and the Peace facilitators as it earlier had successfully done between India and the LTTE?
Thamilchelvan: It will never succeed. The international community will only arrive at decisions after having clearly understood the reality of the situation. The GoSL cannot fool the international community or the Tamils anymore. History records that the GoSL has always been intent on placing the blame on the LTTE to earn the wrath of the international community. It always seeks the support of the international community when reaping failures to discredit the LTTE.

The international community now, is well aware of the dishonesty, insincerity and lack of co-operation of the GoSL and the Sinhala extremists..

TamilNet: The clandestine Upsurging People Force's attacks in the Sri Lanka Army controlled areas are escalating. Allegedly in retaliation the SLA is killing traders and youths. Have you expressed concerns over this?
Thamilchelvan: We have already expressed our protest in strongest possible terms against the killings of the Tamils. The attacks by the groups we witness today seem to have risen against the wanton killings of Tamils. It is therefore the responsibility of the GoSL and its armed forces, to take immediate steps to cease the direct and covert attacks against the Tamils. Otherwise, we are afraid that the situation could worsen. We have addressed this issue in our meeting with the Norwegian facilitator. We wish to stress that both sides had made positive efforts in controlling violence after our national leader and Norway's Development Minister had met. But soon after the Geneva talks, the GoSL, SLA and its paramilitaries assassinated our cadres and unleashed violence on the Tamils.

TamilNet: The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) blames the LTTE for not showing flexibiilty. The monitors say parties are preoccupied with prestige issues unmindful of the sufferings of the public. What is your response to this?
Thamilchelvan: The LTTE is fully committed to every letter and word of the CFA. But the GoSL, without reciprocating this gesture, continues to adopt a contradicting approach. The assassinations and other violence by its paramilitaries are gross violations of the CFA. Once an agreement is signed the responsible party should sincerity in implementing the pledges. We have repeatedly cited these CFA violations to the Norwegian facilitators as we had in today's meeting too. Does the GoSL respect the CFA? Is it prepared to implement the CFA in full? If so, it has to prove it in actions. Then only the peaces process and peace talks can make progress. We have clearly expressed our dedication to the CFA and the peace process.

TamilNet: Will the LTTE come forward again, to request the Upsurging people force and other such organisations operating in the military controlled areas to stop their attacks on the SLA, as a gesture to create an atmosphere of normalcy?
Thamilchelvan: As far as we are concerned, violence let loose wantonly on the people by GoSL armed forces should come to a halt first. Only this can restore peace and normalcy. We have tried to explain this in detail to the facilitators that it is impossible to stand the reactions to the violent actions leashed on them by the GoSL armed forces, their paramilitaries and the Sinhala extremists. Everything lies in the hands of the Sri Lanka government. The Norwegian facilitators have assured that they will do the needful to resolve the situation.

TamilNet: Why did you consent for the dates of the Geneva talks without securing a written agreement on the travel arrangements? Couldn't you have fixed the dates after the first stage of the sea-travel of your commanders?
Thamilchelvan: Taking for granted the customary procedures of transport adopted and considering the limited time available, we believed that an immediate arrangement for our Central Committee to meet with our Leadership and commanders would ease the way for us to go for the talks. Though there weren't any written assurances, we did discuss this matter with the head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and obtained his verbal guarantee. On the basis of his guarantee our commanders and cadres were about to board the ferry without any apprehensions. But, it was at this stage, we realized the element of danger behind the warnings and restrictions of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), exposing the sabotage scheme underway. We immediately stopped our commanders boarding the ferry avoiding a situation which might have triggered an all out war, invalidating the hard earned progress in the peace process, attained with the assistance of the international community.

TamilNet: What is the basic reason for the Sri Lanka Government's (GoSL) unwillingness to allow the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to use LTTE's own means of sea-transport? Has Colombo given any direct clarification of their stand?
Thamilchelvan: They have not given us any explanation for the change in the normal procedure adopted in the past. We view the suggestion of insecure modes of travel for our Commanders and new conditions as a sabotage strategy to obstruct our participation in the talks. This attitude will only help to further widen the mistrust between the two parties. We also consider this as a deliberate and calculated move by the GoSL to prevent the LTTE from participating in the Geneva talks.

TamilNet: Why does the GoSL refuse to provide their military helicopters? Has it laid any preconditions?
Thamilchelvan: They have not disclosed the reason for the refusal. We have been using their helicopters until now but they have stipulated new conditions changing the routine, primarily to hinder the LTTE going for the Geneva talks. We are always ready to co-operate with the peace initiatives and the talks in Geneva. GoSL appears bent on discrediting the image of the LTTE in the eyes of the international community. They are already engaged in a smear campaign abroad.

TamilNet: Did you approach any third party for assistance with your travel arrangements?
Thamilchelvan: We have insisted on following the existing practices. But, we have been willing to consider acceptable alternatives. However, Colombo is acting with the intent on forcing amendments to the CFA. This is why they are thrusting upon us impractical conditions.

TamilNet: In this background, do you have faith in the GoSL to disarm and expel the paramilitaries by participating in Geneva Talks-2?
Thamilchelvan: It is clear that the GoSL has not respected the agreement reached in the Geneva-1. Yet they invite us to participate in the second round. Should the talks take place as scheduled, we can only discuss the status of pledges made by the GoSL in the first round of talks. But, a conducive atmosphere has not been created even to engage the GoSL in this issue. We understand and appreciate the efforts of Norway, as the facilitator, towards resolving the current problems.

 

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