Proposals based on humanitarian needs — Thamilchelvan

by Rohan Mathes


LTTE political wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan challenged the constitutionality of the 1972 and 1978 constitutions which had been prepared sans consultation or participation of the Tamil people or its representatives, institutionalising discrimination and the denial of the rights of the Tamil people.

Addressing journalists at their Peace Secretariat in Kilinochchi last Saturday, he claimed that the present constitution has deprived the Tamils of playing an effective role in the decision-making process of the country. "It has been a major cause of the problem. Innovative and pragmatic thinking ignoring this constitution is now necessary to avert this conflict situation for the betterment of the nation and the implementation of justice," he noted.

He said that the proposals of the LTTE handed over to the government via the Norwegian facilitators on behalf of the Tamil People for an agreement to establish an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) for the North-East of Sri Lanka had been prepared in consistent with the principles of the rule of law, human rights and equality of all persons and the right to self-determination of the Tamil people. "A careful study of the proposals will reveal that it is not the penultimate to "Eelam". They are based on the humanitarian needs", he re-iterated.

The phenomenal and regular history of the relations between the Sinhala and Tamil communities has been a process of broken promises and unilateral abrogation by successive governments of Sri Lanka who have solemnly entered into pacts and agreements with the elected representatives of the Tamil people. "They have gone back on their promises due to objections from the Opposition or other Communal forums", he said.

The armed-struggle as a measure of self-defence and a means of realisation of the Tamil right to self-determination arose only after more than four decades of non-violent and peaceful constitutional struggle proved futile and due to the absence of alternative means of resolving the conflict peacefully.

As a result of this armed-struggle, they have lost over 80,000 civilians and destroyed the social, economic, administrative and physical infrastructure of the North-East.

However, a new system of Governance is necessary. These proposals have been prepared after careful study and deliberations of local and foreign expertise.

"We urge the Norwegian government to arrange a dialogue with the government for further discussion and negotiations for the creation of a viable "Interim Administration" which would offer a conducive environment to solve the crisis", he said.

The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) in its 2000 election manifesto had rightly recognised the necessity for an Interim Authority.

We are now engaged in this exercise with sincere commitment.

The majority of the Tamil people in the North-East, had clearly given their mandate to the TNA who in their 2000 manifesto acknowledged the LTTE as their sole and authenticated representative of the Tamils.

He rejected accusations of perpetrating killings and violation of human rights of their political opponents such as the EPDP, saying that all these sinister incidents had taken place in government controlled areas, meticulously planned and carried out to blame the LTTE for the same. "The investigative mechanism of the government has to bear the brunt of them and do the detections", he quipped.

The civilian owners who have been evicted from their own lands should be given unfettered access to their land, as it has been a violation of the norms of international law. Such land should be immediately vacated and restored to the possession of their previous owners including compensation from the GOSL for the past dispossession of the said land.

The forced abduction and proscription of child-soldiers was also vehemently denied by Thamilchelvan stating that they were the most vulnerable and badly effected sector who were denied of their basic rights, and resulted in a spontaneous integration to their ranks to fight for their rights.

He pointed out that in the recent past, the mechanism for reconstruction did not have the political backing. The institutions and services provided by the GOSL had proved to be inadequate to meet the urgent needs of the people of the North-East.

The Sub-committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN) and other Sub-Committees formed during the peace negotiations failed due to the inactiveness of such Sub-Committees.

The maintenance of law and order is an essential pre-requisite for a just and free society. When the ISGA is established in the eight districts, law and order would not be an issue in the North-East which he referred to as the natural habitat of the Tamils.

However, he declined to comment on the "Laying down of Arms", stating that he disliked connecting the ISGA with the Military as the presence of the "Armed Wings" of either party becomes superfluous in times of peace, with no role to play in the ISGA and the civilian population or administration.

He further said that he does not believe in fixing a time-frame for the ISGA as it may prove to be detrimental to the Tamil people, however though he opted for a realistic and rapid negotiation, based on rational and political thinking.

Declining to comment on the action the Nordic countries would take on the issue which had arisen as a result of President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s recent action in sacking the SLMM chief, he said that if an estranged relationship develops with the SLMM, it may have an impact on the peace process.

Referring to the plight of the present Tamil parliamentarians, Thamilchelvan opined that their destiny too would be decided by the Tamil people alone.

"The mutual relationship and brotherhood between Appuhamy of the South and Rasiah of the North-East, as fellow Sri Lankans would eventually be accomplished with the advent of time, following the confidence built-up by the ISGA", Thamilchelvan added.