The Norway facilitators creating  the right environment to take the peace efforts forward  

by Kaddurai

All of us know how the Sinhalese ruling class has given assurances to Tamils since Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan's era and how the Sinhalese ruling class has gone back on such promises. Because of these experiences, Prabhaharan felt strongly that the Tamil race should not be taken for a ride anymore. In order to protect the Tamil homelands and the Tamils, he formed - with sheer determination and dedication - a strong liberation army, faced the SL army and fought against the state. 

We are sad that the international community has not understood in depth the history of such previous episodes in which the Sinhalese ruling class cheated the Tamils. Even written agreements were thrown away into the thin air by the Sinhalese elites. 

With the above historical background, Norway started its peace efforts. In the early stages, the ruling elite falsely accused Norway's Eric Solheim of siding with the LTTE and sidelined him as undesirable envoy. 

After that, the UNP came to power and, with the help of the Norwegian government, peace talks were held in foreign countries. In these 6 talks, the LTTE asserted that the Sinhalese nation was not much affected by the war. Only the NorthEast was devastated by the war in every respect and, as such, normalcy should be restored in North and East.  Priority should be given to redevelopment of the war-torn areas, rehabilitation of the people and rehabilitation of services. 

Though the UNP Government accepted this LTTE request in principle, it never took any concrete steps to implement them. As a result, in 2003 the LTTE realised that there was no point in continuing with peace talks and temporarily withdrew from the peace talks. 

Under these circumstances, in accordance with the request from the Government and the International Community, the LTTE engaged a group of Tamil experts and prepared a detailed ISGA document and submitted it to the Government through the Norwegian Peace facilitators. The special features of this ISGA proposal were to obtain foreign aid to rehabilitate, develop and resettle the people in the Tamil areas. The ISGA should  take full responsibility for the implementation of these efforts. 

The JVP and a few other sections of the Sinhalese ruling class were deadly against the proposed ISGA in developing the lands in the Tamil areas and the development of marine resources in the Tamil areas. Nevertheless, the LTTE has categorically told Norway that the peace talks cannot continue unless they talk and settle the ISGA issue first. The Karuna issue cropped up under the above circumstances. So, Norway realised and expressed its view that the ceasefire and the MOU were in jeopardy. The SL government did not have a steady and determined policy on the Karuna issue. Even the Ministers from the SL government came out with contradictory statements. 

The JVP is contining to show its clear stand that they are deadly against the ISGA. The members from the SLFP government are coming out with the idea that the ISGA can be part of the final solution to the national question.  At this juncture we would like to bring to the attention of our readers that the Kashmir issue has been there for 57 years, still there is no final solution.  The Palestinian issue has been there for 56 years, yet there is no final solution. Based on these examples, the final solution to the SL ethnic issue may take at least another 20 or 25 years. Therefore, we would like to ask the Sinhalese ruling class, "Can the rehabilitation, redevelopment, resettlement of those suffering because of the war wait for another 20 or 25 years??" 

At this juncture we would like to give you few facts.  We are able to see clearly the confused state of the SL government, the in-fighting within the government, the contradictory statements they give all the time.  We think the international community has understood all this.  Also the LTTE has expressed its determined stand on the ISGA issue and Karuna's issue clearly to the International community and the SL Ruling Class. 

With this as the backdrop, Norway's deputy foreign affairs minister came to SL recently and strongly warned both the SL government and the LTTE that the war could start again. 

We would like to state that the missile of Norway's minister was targeted really at the government. Because of political diplomacy the warning also included to the LTTE.  The SL government is perturbed by this warning by Norway.

Foreign diplomats in SL also may have put pressure on the SL government.  We understand that the President has asked Norway to start the peace talk again because of all these. 

However there may be many other hidden agendas or objectives  in such a request by the president.  First, is the pressure from the International Community because the western countries are in support of Norway's stand with its warning?  Norway has told clearly that, in the case of war re-erupting, there will not be military intervention and support to the Sinhalese government and the UN will not interfere, either. 

The second concern is the fear that, in case war erupts and the LTTE wins, what will be the situation in the south?  

Thirdly, SL is in pathetic state as her economy and financial reserves are in very bad shape, law and order is deteriorating and more anarchy is over the horizon.  Therefore, the government has to get at least part of the promised US$ 450 million aid promised if the peace process continues. It will become a day dream if war erupts. 

Because of the above three reasons, the top of the SL government is begging Norway to restart the peace process. 

In politics, when one reaches a precarious situation, it is necessary to move one's chess piece with more caution and with foresight/strategy. 

The LTTE has questioned the move by the SL government in inviting the American Pacific Commander and in showing him Jaffna ports and army camps, Trincomalee port, and Karainagar naval base. We also would like to ask the SL government whether all these acts will help the peace process. Our view is that such acts by the SL government is preparing for war. 

Above all these, it is the duty of the LTTE to ask through Norway, is getting expert advise from the Americans for fortifying the security arrangements in Colombo Port, Trincomalee port, Kankesanthurai Port, airports, for peace or for war?  Getting a warship from America is of no use for peace. This is our view. 

Secondly, the Herculean effort by the Sinhalese ruling classes to expedite a Security Agreement with India cannot be supportive of the peace process.  The LTTE has a duty to tell this to Norway. Renewing the military supply contract with China, is it for war or for peace?  How can such action help the peace process?

If foresight had been used at the time of preparing the MOU, all these could have been avoided. The LTTE and the SL government signed the MOU on the basis of parity of status and parity of military strength on the war lines.  Here is the SL government, on the one hand talking about peace, but on the other hand unilaterally strengthening its armed forces. This act is just not honest and is a treacherous act. This is our strong view.  With all this taken into consideration, the LTTE should tell Norway that, only after an agreement is reached on the ISGA,  A PART of  the US$ 450 aid should be released to SL government.  Of this part, the bulk must go to the NorthEast rehabilitation works. Such an arrangement must be supervised by the donor countries and the World Bank. In this regard, the SL government should give an assurance. 

If there are reliable evidence that the Sinhalese government will impose a war on the LTTE, the diplomats of the EU should be asked to assure that the EU, USA, India, China and Pakistan will take a non-aligned, neutral stand.  That means these countries should not interfere militarily, should not give military support and should not impose a sea blockade in the northeast. 

In case the USA unilaterally decides to help the SL armed forces or militarily interfere, the LTTE should request the EU and its members like France, German,Spain, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, to persuade India to act in the interest of her security and to cool the Tamil Nadu political situation and to support the LTTE.  It is also better to discuss with the EU about the plight of the Tamils living in the south and in the up country, in case war erupts. If there are racial killings, our view is that it is necessary for the EU to use the Geneva Convention and to send in their troops within 24 hours to rescue the Tamils. 

We would like to remind our readers that, in order to stop the 1983 genocide, the then PM of India had to give a stern warning to Jayawardene.

Thinnakural, August 9, 2004

(translation from the Tamil by Thiru)


Posted August 11, 2004