IFT - Ceasefire in Jeopardy

International Federation of Tamils
18 Rue des Paquis,1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel/Fax 00 41 22 7320 831 ift@bluewin.ch

Press Statement
29.06.2005

Ceasefire in Jeopardy

The International Federation of Tamils (IFT) wishes to express its shock and exasperation at the unholy silence observed by the International Community over the ceasefire violations dared by the Sri Lanka armed forces on 26, June at Bowatta, Welikanda, an exclusive government-controlled area where an unarmed LTTE convoy escorted by the SLA and SLMM was claymore attacked.

The LTTE cadres, numbering forty, were political activists allowed under the cease-fire agreement to travel from one LTTE district to another and also to conduct political work in government-controlled areas.  Their papers were in order.  Their travel was in order.  They were being escorted by the SLA and SLMM to the east from Vanni when the attack was made.

The experience and ingenuity of the driver of the vehicle in which the LTTE cadres travelled saved their lives and averted an unavoidable war-provoking crisis.

Although this landmine attack demands an international outcry and strong condemnation, the foreign missions in Colombo continue to maintain an eerie silence which makes bold the recalcitrant armed forces.

The cease-fire agreement needs to be strictly observed by the combatants.  And it needs to be seriously guaranteed by the international community which vouched for it at its initiation.  Almost a week has lapsed.  Even the countries which hastened to welcome the P-TOMS appear not to be concerned about the breach of the ceasefire agreement.  There is an outcry among the Tamils.

It was in the same Welikanda area, three months earlier, that the vehicle in which a regional political head of the LTTE, Lt.Col. Koushalyan travelled was attacked and five LTTE cadres, including Koushalyan and a peace activist, Chandra Nehru were brutally gunned down.  On that occasion, the Sri Lanka military spokesman pointed out that the massacre could have been avoided had a prior arrangement been made with the government security authorities.

According to the statement issued by S.P. Tamilselvan, the Political Head of the LTTE on 27, June, 2005, travel arrangements of the LTTE cadre were finalised in consultation with the SLA and SLMM well before the commencement of the journey.

In sharp contrast to the arrangements made, the SLA escorts travelled in separate vehicles, while the vehicle in which the LTTE cadres travelled, about which the SLA alone knew about, was isolated for the mysterious claymore attack.

Although the attack is blamed on the paramilitary groups, the responsibility should be placed fair and square on the shoulders of the government security forces and the Executive President of Sri Lanka who are required, by the cease-fire agreement concluded in 2002, to disarm the paramilitaries and shift them to areas outside the NorthEast.

Violations of the cease-fire agreement by the Sri Lanka security forces, bordering provocation of war, is on the increase.  The High Security Zone shield still continues to prevent thousands of Tamils returning to their ancestral homes.  Sri Lankan military camps in the Tamil areas are continuing to be extended and strengthened.  The extreme Sinhala nationalist elements are whipping up communal emotions among the Sinhala masses.  Still the International community, which eloquently preaches human rights to the world, is silent.  Why?

For further information contact ift@bluewin.ch

-----------------------

LTTE issues 2 weeks ultimatum for ensuring travel safety

[TamilNet, June 30, 2005 09:05 GMT]
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Thursday in a crucial meeting with members of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) demanded that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) should provide a clear response on procedures to ensure safety of travel for LTTE cadres in the east. Head of LTTE Political Wing told Scandinavian delegation that Tigers will resume their own armed escort if the GoSL fails to provide satisfactory response within two weeks, sources from Vanni said.

The announcement follows the landmine attack in Welikande on the LTTE convoy escorted by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and facilitated by the truce monitors.

"If LTTE decides to use its own armed escort, the CFA will likely collapse, and LTTE should not be held responsible for breaking the ceasefire," Thamilchelvan told the delegation.

When contacted by TamilNet, Mr S Puleedevan, Director of Peace Secretarait confirmed that the message was given to Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission Mr Hagrup Haukland when the latter met LTTEs Political Head in LTTEs Peace Secretariat Thursday morning at 10.00 AM.

"In terms of the provisions in the CFA relating to the transport of LTTE members through military controlled areas and more so according to the explicit understanding reached in a meeting with the SLMM and the Norwegian Ambassador, the SLA should have provided full security and safety to our members, but what has happened at Welikanda on 26 June 2005, gives us serious concern over the genuineness of the SriLankan Government’s commitment to the CFA," said Mr.S.P.Thamilchelvan in a meeting with the SLMM and the Norwegian embassy officials, according to LTTE's Peace Secretariat website.

Thamilchelvan told the delegation that the date and time of travel of the LTTE convoy was only made known to the members of the SLMM and through the SLMM to the Sri Lanka Army (SLA). "The miltary intelligence obtained the information from the SLA and has planned this attack. Further, none of the members of the Security forces were travelling on the bus," Thamilchelvan said.

For the Kausalyan killing, Sri Lanka Government blamed the LTTE for not informing the Security Forces to provide armed escort. And now our seeking escort from the Security Forces has endangered the lives of 40 of our cadres," Thamilchelvan further told the delegation.

If LTTE decides to resume its own armed escort, it will also be forced to curtail movements of Sri Lanka Armed forces in areas that are critical to LTTE troop movement, Thamilchelvan told the delegation, according to sources in Kilinochchi.

Acting Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mr Oddvar Lægreid and three other Norwegian officials were present in a two hour meeting with the LTTE officials, sources in Kilinochchi said.

Political observers in Kilinochchi noted the ominous sign of the ultimatum and compared this with a similar deadline LTTE gave before terminating talks in March 1995. LTTE was then blamed for breaking the truce even after giving a three week warning followed by a two week extension when the agreement called for only 72 hours notice.

LTTE Political Head this time has reiterated in clear terms that LTTE should not be blamed for breaking the CFA, observers noted.


###

Posted June 30, 2005