Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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The Problem is Implementation, Not Talks

by Vettivel, May 12, 2006

If there is no implementation, there is certainly no need for a meeting or talks.

The Sri Lankan government continuously releases statements that requests the LTTE to come to talks. The obvious intention is that it tries to portrait itself as a peace-loving state. Fortunately, most people know what is happening in Sri Lanka.

As usual tactics, the Sri Lankan government refuses to implement anything that it agreed during the talks. Even worse, the Sinhala leadership opt to use dirty tricks to suppress Tamils struggle. The intention for a meeting is to agree to something and then implement the agreement. If there is no implementation, there is certainly no need for a meeting or talks. In the Tamil struggle, since 1950s, many agreements have been reached, but almost none implemented. The very serious problem now is that the CFA (Cease Fire Agreement) the foundation for the peace talks, also seems to be facing the same fate.

In Sri Lankan peace talks, the government has always failed to implement agreements, and always finds different tactics to do so. In the early phase of the current peace process, the prime minister blamed the president for his inability to implement the agreements. But later, the president blamed the Sri Lankan constitution. In reality, the Tamil struggle can not be resolved within the Sri Lankan constitution because the Sri Lankan constitution is itself a problem.

Since the 1950s, one Sinhala government signed agreement with Tamil leadership, and then the another Sinhala government rejected the agreement. This is the regular pattern seen in the past. Actually, none of the Sinhala leadership interested in sharing power with Tamils. Whenever they get a chance, the Sinhala leadership try to weaken Tamil leadership. It is acceptable to the Sinhala leadership that there is a terrorized Tamil homeland and considerably safe Sinhala inhabitants, but they are never willing to share powers with Tamils. History is sometimes a bitter lesson, and Tamils were learnt that nothing will be achieved through talks.

It is better to start from 2002 and the first round of peace talks in order to see what agreements are reached and what happen to their implementation. In the first round of talks, the following important agreements were reached.

  1. Establish a Joint Task Force for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Activities (Not implemented)
  2. Joint Committee to deal with the issues relating to High Security Zones (HSZs) (Not implemented)
  3. Stepping up humanitarian mine action (Implemented)
  4. Accelerating resettlement and rehabilitation of internally displaced persons (Not implemented)
  5. Implementing cease fire agreement (CFA) (Partially implemented)

Other than the third item - that is humanitarian mine action - the rest of the items were not implemented. In the second round of peace talks, one more item was added to the list.

  1. Establish peace committees at the community level in order to facilitate the resolution of local problems (Implemented, but not in full scale)

In the third round of peace talks, a base for the political solution was agreed.

  1. Explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. (Present government refused to accept this base)
  2. Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs to handle funds for rehabilitation in northeast. (Not implemented)

In the fourth round of peace talks, following agreement was reached.

  1. Action Plan for an Accelerated Resettlement programmme for the Jaffna District. (Not implemented)

There were no important agreements reached in the fifth round of peace talks. Apart from the above agreements, there was one more agreement reached after the Tsunami.

  1. P-TOMS - Post- tsunami operational management structure (Not implemented)

During this time, the LTTE submitted the ISGA (Interim Self Governing Authority), but there was no agreement reached on this. Also, there was no agreement reached on the issue of the HSZs as well.

After four years of peace talks, Tamils didn’t get anything other than a “privilege” to live without Sri Lankan government Kfir bomber attacks and arbitrary disappearances. At the end of 2005, this hope also shattered, and Sinhala armed forces with paramilitaries started a dirty war against the LTTE and Tamil activists. The Sri Lankan government involves itself in extrajudicial killings and manipulating disappearance by using paramilitary forces. The co-chairs and SLMM kept a calculated silence about the government's extrajudicial killings. The dirty shadow war turns into a low intensive war now and a full scale war is also around the corner. Anyone who observed the last for years of the peace process can easily understand the hawkish nature of the Sinhala leadership that refuses to implement what they think may help Tamils.

Lack of implementation and no change in the Sinhala domination mentality are the major reasons for the failure of the peace process. If at least 50 % of the agreements were implemented, the peace process could be sustained well.

While talking peace, the Sri Lankan government tried to sideline and weaken the Tamil leadership and has waged a dirty war against them. If there is no space for negotiated settlement, the only way Tamils have is to declare independence.

The fate of the P-TOMS, a simple Tsunami mechanism, clearly shows that the Sri Lankan constitution doesn’t allow anything to be implemented. If there is no feasible solution, the world should support the Tamils to exercise their self-determination rights.

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