Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Urgent Need to Prevent Impending War

by International Federation of Tamils, Geneva, Switzerland, Aug.1, 2006

Urgent Press statement  

The International Federation of Tamils (IFT) wishes to draw the attention of the International Community to the precarious situation escalating towards resumption of war in Sri Lanka and urges the international community to take firm, fair, and early action to 

  1. uphold the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA).; and
  2. help resolve the national conflict tearing asunder the island for the last six decades.   

IFT wishes to point out to the international community the alarming actions of the government in moving land troops into the heartland of LTTE controlled areas – actions directed to provoking a conventional war. These actions are a gross and open violation of the CFA. Furthermore, the ongoing aerial bombardment of Tamil civilian settlements in Mullaitivu, Trincomalee and Batticaloa, consecutively for seven days is a clear war crime.   

The IFT  recognises that it was the effort of the international community with Norway as Facilitator that brought the warring sides to the negotiating table in 2002. The peace process at first progressed slowly and cautiously  and the CFA  remained intact. The breather after six rounds of Talks was a call for the Sri Lanka government to translate decisions taken at the talks  into action and to bridge the differences between the Prime Minister and the Executive President of Sri Lanka.

The serious threat to the peace process came with the election of Mahinda Rajapakse as President on an ethno-religious chauvinist and political opportunist election manifesto. Although President Rajapakse, in his inaugural rhetoric rejected the CFA and the Norwegian faclitation, Velupillai Pirapakaran, the Tamil national leader gave the new President a reasonable period of grace to reassess reality and devise pragmatic solutions to the conflict in the island.   

Unfortunately, President Rajapakse made use of the period to infuse racial hatred in the hearts and minds of the Sinhala people, to install racist military commanders in positions of power, to unleash a reign of terror in the traditional Tamil areas, and to conduct a vicious propaganda against the LTTE among the diplomatic community. Arguing and winning a case for listing the LTTE in Europe and Canada to bring them back immediately to the negotiating table, he bared his true intentions by proceeding to work on a listing in the Arab World, hoping to obtain a world-round ostracising of the LTTE, to extend Sinhalisation of the North-East and impose a military solution to the national question.   

The international community would have noticed the reign of terror unleashed on the traditional homeland of the Tamils, orchestrated by the chosen army commanders immediately after Rajapakse's assumption to Presidency, resulting in hundreds of involuntary disappearances, rapes and a culture of killing with impunity spiralling to pandemic proportions, conveniently accommodated with the listing of LTTE in Canada and the EU. The State Armed Forces  shot through the ears five Tamil schoolboys at Trincomalee, used rocket-launchers to kill 9 Tamil youths in public at Nelliyadi, murdered 8 Hindu devotees in the Manthuvil temple, murdered 13 Tamils, young and old at Allaipiddy in cold blood. The horrendous sight of a nine year old girl's body, dangling in a row with her 7 year old brother and father, from the rafter of her hut at Vankalai, with blood dripping from her mutilated sex organ  was adequate to churn the conscience of a number of member states of the EU and make them wonder in hindsight, whether they had not been hasty to concede to the listing of the LTTE, with the hope that President Rajapakse would organise immediate peace talks. It is a pity the international community could not order an international inquiry into the Kebithigollewa bus massacre hurriedly blamed on the LTTE, but which was carried out  by the State armed Forces and the Paramilitary Groups to stem the global sympathy for the Tamils and to bring discredit to the LTTE.   

The international community would have observed that its failure to condemn the escalation of war crimes stated above made President Rajapakse bold to order air-strikes on Tamil civilian targets, a war crime not permissible even during war. At the time of writing this urgent appeal, the aerial bombardment by the SL Air Force has gone into the seventh day at a stretch, calling it a limited action, but killing Tamils and driving them out of their traditional homes, a clear design to establish Sinhala colonisation in traditional Tamil areas, already taking place in Trincomalee.  

The IFT wishes to draw the attention of the international community to the latest water-reservoir problem that could escalate any time into a full-scale war. The Rajapakse regime seeks to portray this as a provocation instigated by the LTTE. But it is a humanitarian, drinking water problem to which the resident civilians of the area have demanded a solution when suddenly the Rajapakse government decided to abandon the water-tower project proposed by the Asian Development Bank to serve the basic need of the Tamils in the region. Refusing them drinking water, but letting water pass through their lands to irrigate fields elsewhere is beyond the comprehension of ordinary peasants of the soil who have raised barricades around the sluices of the reservoir at Mavilaru, within the LTTE land, 5km away from the government controlled area.   

An amicable settlement that the SLMM officials were trying to secure at a meeting with the civilian leaders and the LTTE leadership of the area, with advance notice of the location to the State Armed Forces was suddenly disrupted with aerial bombardment within the vicinity of the venue, making the SLMM decide conclusively to refrain from going out on duty ever, until assurance on no more aerial bombardments was given. The LTTE has warned that any attempt by Sri Lanka armed forces entering LTTE-controlled land would be considered an invasion and  a breach of the CFA.   

As a matter of urgency, IFT urges the international community to take immediate and appropriate action to prevent further deterioration of the situation into which the island of Sri Lanka has plunged today, and save it from an impending war by stepping quickly into the arena and making both parties respect the CFA and adhere to its stipulations.   

The international community must win  back the trust of the Tamil people and be accepted as fair in its dealings and decisions. The unfair EU listing was one reason the LTTE could not trust the EU-Nordic countries anymore as members of the SLMM. The international community needs to command the trust of both parties on par at the negotiating table.   

On behalf of the Tamil Diaspora, IFT urges the international community to arrange for the resumption of Peace Talks, to recognise the right of the Tamil people to self-determination and in this way move towards securing peace in the  island and stability in the region.   

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