|LTTE seeks Quebec style referendum
Paul Knox, The Globe & Mail, Canada
In an interview in the war-ravaged jungle town of Kilinochchi, S. P. Tamilselvan said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam see Canadas federal system as a possible guide for an agreement to end Sri Lankas 18-year civil war.
Tamilselvan said, the Tigers see Canada as a beacon of human rights and democracy and praised its early acceptance of Tamil refugees. About 200,000 Sri Lankan Tamils live in Canada, most in the Toronto area.
Referring to the 1995 Quebec vote, in which a proposal to give the provincial government a mandate to negotiate sovereignty was narrowly defeated, he praised "the way in which . . . the mechanism of the referendum is being used to determine the will and aspirations of a section of people."
Sri Lanka lacks "such a civilized . . . governance and perception and political thinking," he said.
Asked whether the LTTE would respect the result of a referendum on Tamil sovereignty, he replied: "What the people decide as their fate would be our decision as well. We would certainly respect the judgment given by our people in such a procedure or exercise."
As for Canadas federal system, he said "we appreciate it, we like it. . . . We like Canadas governance pattern." He declined to say what elements he would like to see implemented in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Tamilselvan declined to answer when asked what the LTTE would be willing to settle for.
He noted that previous government offers of Tamil autonomy and language rights have foundered on opposition from ethnic-Sinhalese nationalists.
But he added that if the Sri Lanka government says it will allow Tamils "to live as equal citizens in this country . . . we may be in the position to sit down and think" about the offer.
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