Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Peace Talks - Again?!

by Sabesan, Melbourne, Australia

Though many welcome the peace talks, the question as to whether we should engage in peace talks again and again, when the right solutions are unable to be achieved, looms big in their minds.

The first round of talks on the implementation of the Cease Fire Agreement has been conducted in Geneva. We are aware of the situation of  a war in progress when the peace talks with former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe started and of conditions worsening when Mahintha Rajapakse assumed power as the new Sri Lankan President. However, the Tamil Eelam Leadership, aspiring for a solution to the Tamil Eelam national issue through peace talks, offered a fresh chance to the new President. Though many welcome the peace talks, the question as to whether we should engage in peace talks again and again, when the right solutions are unable to be achieved, looms big in their minds.

The aim of this article is to discuss many important matters on the basis of this question.

'Peace talks began after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam signed a ceasefire agreement with the former Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe. As the CFA was an  already accepted concept by both parties, it did not figure prominently in the peace talks. They centred only on the next stage problems like normalcy of life, rehabilitation and restoration. Is it not a drawback now to descend a step to speak only on the implementation of the CFA?' - We wish to discuss the answer to this question, too.

The CFA signed between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lanka state does not just end with these two factions, but also related to many international countries, including Nordic countries. The Wickremasinghe regime failed to implement many important aspects of the agreement. In the previous peace talks, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam did point to these and had requested proper implementation of the agreement. In the same manner, the necessity of the proper implementation of the CFA was blamed on former president Chandrika, who created confusion due to her competition for power. In the context of the break in peace talks, the Tamil Eelam National Leader has extended his friendly hands of peace to Rajapakse in spite of the new president's conflicting concepts and thoughts.

We infer that the concluded Geneva Talks point to many important matters. Though these are not obviously apparent, they come to light on close observation and are matters automatically taken for granted.

The truth that surfaces is this: The international countries, while readily accepting the views of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, are reluctant to accept those of the Sri Lanka government.

Let us go through certain matters in order to discuss the above.

  • The Liberation Tigers had insisted that, if talks are to begin, they must only deal with the proper implementation of the CFA. But Mahintha Rajapakse's government did not agree to this. Ultimately, the subject of the talks dealt only with the implementation of the CFA according to the Liberation Tigers' wish and against that of the Sri Lanka state.
  • The Sri Lanka state was adamant on either changing the CFA or amending it, but the international countries did not accede to this. They did accept the definite decision of the Liberation Tigers that they would not entertain any change or amendment to the agreement. We are also able to see the 'behind the scene' pressure exerted by the countries on the Sri Lanka government.
  • Breaking pacts or abrogating them has been the long standing tradition in the annals of the alternating Sinhala governments. But this time, we wish to point out, a full stop to this practice has been put noiselessly.
  • Had the world countries approved of alterations in the CFA, they would have surely expressed their view discreetly, but this has not happened and they had shown keen interest in confirming the CFA being consolidated fully. This turn is something directly opposed to the campaign and expectation of the Sri Lanka state.
  • The fresh talks with Mahintha Rajapakse's regime tell us an important matter - i.e., Whichever new Sinhala regime assumes power has to negotiate only with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. This important message has been delivered by the international countries to the Sri Lanakan state through the Geneva talks.
  • Another matter also has been told to the Sri Lanka government by the international countries: It has to participate in the talks only on the basis of the already accepted concepts and not on those serving internal political situations which make it to assume contradicting postures each time.
  • Besides, a clear message has been delivered to the entire Sinhala people: You cannot hope for peace in Sri Lanka if you act on the basis of chauvinistic ideals; you have to realise the ground reality and approach the issue sincerely, not discarding the old agreements. The commencment of the Geneva talks has taken this message to the Sinhala society.

Dear readers! These are the messages the Geneva talks convey indirectly.

We wish to state a view which we have emphasised several times before. The unnecessary pressures exerted by the international countries on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam will not prove useful once they exceed a certain level. This has become an obvious truth now. We are now able to realise the greatness of the Tamil Eelam Nation Leader's ability to forestall and guide with the distant vision of the future events.

We have been discussing the positive outcomes of participating in the Geneva talks on implementing the CFA  but it would be appropriate to look at another important matter here.

'Okay… we understand! But, what benefits has the four year period for peace given? Even the talks on talks have not given us any solution all these years! How long will this situation drag on?'  We are driven to discuss the answers for these questions, too!

It is true that the talks with the last government did not advance to the next stage in a promising manner. We have to observe many other related issues along with this. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam organisation, by the virtue of the fact it is strong and a people's organisation, has been able to establish self-rule in most of the recaptured Tamil homeland and has been administrating the same very efficiently in the last four years. Besides, it is operating a huge administrative body consisting of the basic infrastructure, a necessary prerequisite, for a shadow state.

While the Sri Lanka regime wastes time in dragging its feet in the pursuit of peace talks, the Tamil Eelam Leadership, with whatever available resources and abilities, is engaged in restoring normalcy of life and in rehabilitation and development projects. The contribution by the expatriate Tamils during this period for peace is indeed enormous.

Having presented the above, we wish to say another important matter. During the last four years, the Liberation Tigers have not given in on anything substantial and this is a great victory indeed. Besides, within these four years, it has been possible for us to say and do all those things which we could not say and do in the past forty years! And the issue of Tamils has been very well internationalised. Though the Sri Lanka government had tried to drag on and on,  the Leader of Tamil Eelam, to the best of his ability, has transformed this period into an advantageous age.

Meanwhile, we have to pay heed to what many political analysts say. Analysts say dragging time would weaken the struggle and decrease its strength. This is not an exclusive truth to political analysts, but  common sense. Besides this does not apply to all struggles! There was a time when Nelson Mandela, due to the dragging on of talks and their eventuall failure, happened to lose face. But matters did change later. Struggle is related to life, but politics is related to power and policies. Struggle has many dimensions. Relatively, the Tamil Eelam struggle is an incomparable and lofty one, embodying many pristine qualities of struggle within it. The Tamil Eelam struggle is one that is based on vast strength and which has risen up as the force of the people to struggle on!

The Tamil Eelam National Leader, Honourable V. Pirabhakaran, in his Heroes' Day speech last year, stipulated to the government that it should present a proposal to find a just solution fulfilling the political aspirations of the Tamils, within a short period of time. We, therefore, have been arguing that one cannot expect leniency from the Liberation Tigers. The recent Geneva talks justify our stand. Besides, the world countries also have now begun to pressurise Sri Lanka to disarm its paramilitaries. If the Sri Lanka government fails to disarm its paramilitaries, the present atmosphere of peace would change upside down.

The Geneva talks and the related 'behind the scene events' do clearly reveal another matter: The international countries have rightly understood the ground reality in Sri Lanka on some matters. It is obvious that Mahintha Chinthana is not at all taken into account by them.

Let the Sinhala government try to act trustworthy after this.

One cannot expect conditions for peace talks to materialise again and again!

This article is a translation of an analysis broadcast on Melbourne's 3CR Tamil Voice. The full Tamil version is published in The article is written by sabesan and translated by Mathini.

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