Three Years of the Ceasefire Agreement: Sri Lanka unwilling to meet the legitimate rights of Tamil people

Press statement, February 22, 2005

International Federation of Tamils
18 Rue Des Pâquis,
1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Telephone/Fax: +41 22 732 08 31
Email: ift@bluewin.ch

Today is the 3rd Anniversary of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Government of Sri Lanka.  This ceasefire agreement, signed in good faith and expected to alleviate the suffering of all people, has not resulted in achieving its goals.  Although there has been no war, there has been no peace either.

Tamil people have not seen any substantial improvement in their war-devasted life resulting from this CFA.  They have been denied their right to have a governing mechanism to initiate rehabilitation, reconstruction and development programmes as promised.  They voted overwhelmingly for an interim administrative mechanism for rehabilitation and development activities at the April 2004 elections.  Yet, the Sri Lankan Government has refused to respect this mandate.  Over hundreds of thousands of IDPs continue to languish in their temporary shelters where even the basic amenities have not been provided.  The basic needs and rights of children, women and other vulnerable sections of the people in the northeast have neither been considered nor provided for by Sri Lanka.

On the contrary, covert killings of Tamil activists and provocations have escalated and the Agreement, expected to proceed to a political solution, has been stalled.  During the past three years, more than 70 political activists of LTTE were killed in Sri Lankan para-military operations.  Furthermore, a new para-military group was announced last year under the name of Karuna, threatening peace and stability in the eastern parts of the Island.  This is a contravention to section 1.3 of the CFA.  The involvement of the Sri Lankan military in these killings of LTTE political activists has been clearly apparent. The threat of resumption of war and violence against Tamil people and the LTTE is now looming high.  The military presence or occupation in the northeast region is at a threatening level.  In the Jaffna region, every street-corner has a bulky presence of gun-tooting military forces.

The Sri Lankan establishment signed this CFA (Feb. 2002) due to pressure resulting from repeated failures in military operations and the catastrophic devastation of the country’s economy.  But the absence of war for nearly three years has enabled the Sinhala forces to rebuild and look for alternatives other than peaceful means to end the conflict.  It has spent more than 150 billion rupees during these three years to build up its armed forces.  It has entered into military pacts with China and has purchased military hardware from the USA, India, Pakistan, Iran and other military suppliers.  The visit of a high level Sri Lankan military committee to Iran for the purchase of military hardware at the time of Tsunami calamity, 10th of Jan 2005, is noteworthy.

The Sri Lankan President dissolved the previous UNP government, which initiated the peace process.  The President then formed a hard-line government of her own political party along with the JVP, a known racist, anti-Tamil party.  This government pursued military and covert diplomatic programmes to thwart the CFA and to undermine the status of the LTTE, the co-signatory to the Agreement.

It is sad to observe that even the devastation caused by the Tsunami calamity has failed to draw the sympathy of the Sri Lankan Government towards the Tamils who were affected most.  The Sri Lankan establishment denied fair and equitable aid and international relief to the Tsunami-hit northeastern region.  The refusal of the government to accommodate goodwill visits of foreign dignitaries to the Tsunami-affected areas in the northeast is another manifestation of the ill-will and intent of the Sri Lankan state.

During the three years of cease-fire, one could observe the failure of the political and military establishment of Sri Lanka to transform itself to a position of meeting the political aspirations of the Tamil people.  Tamil National Leader Mr. V. Pirabaharan, however, in his annual National Heroes' Day speech, on the 27th of November 2004, reiterated his concern and pointed out the Government’s failure to attend to the plight of the Tamil people whose life in the Tamil areas has not returned to normality despite the three years of ceasefire.

".. if the Sinhala chauvinistic ruling elites continue to deny the rights of our people and oppose reconciliation and if the conditions of oppression continue, we have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent state invoking the right to self-determination of our people..." - Mr. V. Prabhakaran, Leader, LTTE - 27 Nov. 2003

Given this current situation, on behalf of the International Tamil Community;

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Posted February 22, 2005