கேள்வியும் நானே! பதிலும் நானே!

 கேள்வியும் நானே! பதிலும் நானே!
நக்கீரன்

மதத் தத்துவவாதிகள்தான் மக்களைக் குழப்புகிறார்கள் என்று சொல்ல முடியாது. அரசியல்வாதிகளும் அதே பணியைத்தான் செய்கிறார்கள்.

கடவுள், ஆன்மா, மனம் உலகம், மறுபிறப்பு இவைபற்றி ஒரே கருத்தை மதங்களோ மதத் தத்துவவாதிகளோ சொல்வதில்லை. காரணம் மூளைக்கு அளவு கடந்த திறமை இருந்தாலும் அதற்கு நல்லது கெட்டது என சிந்தித்து செயல்படும் திறமை இல்லை. அதற்கு வேறொரு வழிகாட்டி- மனம் என்ற ஒன்று இருக்கிறது. அதன் வழிகாட்டலின்படிதான் மூளை இயங்கும். மதவாதிகளின்படி மனிதன் மூன்று பகுதிகளை உடையவன். உடல், உடலின் உள்ளே இருக்கும் மனம், அதற்கு அப்பால் உள்ள ஆன்மா.

மனம் வேறுபடுவதால் பல்வேறு மதங்கள், வெவ்வேறு வேதாந்தங்கள் சித்தாந்தங்கள் எனப் பிரிவுகள் இருக்கின்றன. பின்பு அவற்றுக்குள்ளும் பிரிவுகள் முளைவிட்டுள்ளன. இந்து சமயத்தை எடுத்துக் கொண்டால் துவைத வேதாந்தம் கடவுள், இயற்கை, ஆன்மா தனித்தனியானவை என்கிறது. அதை மறுக்கும் ஆதிசங்கரரின் அத்துவைதம் (இரண்டின்மை) பிரம்மம் என்பதும் ஆன்மா என்பதும் இரண்டல்ல. ஒன்றுதான். இயற்கை என்பது மாயை என்கிறது.

ஆதிசங்கரரின் அத்துவைத வேதாந்தத்தை இராமனுஜர் ஒத்துக் கொள்ளவில்லை. அவர் அதனை மறுக்கு முகமாக விதுஷ்டாத்துவைதம் (கடவுள், ஆன்மா, இயற்கை மூன்றும் ஒன்றேதான் அதாவது சித்து அசித்து என்னும் இரண்டும் ஈஸ்வரனுக்கு உடலாதலால் அவ்விரண்டும் ஈசுவரனும் ஒன்று) என்ற இன்னொரு வேதாந்தப் பிரிவை உருவாக்கினார்.press_conference_100402.jpg

தாய்லாந்தில் முதல்கட்ட சுற்றுப் பேச்சுவார்த்தைகள் சுமூகமாக முடிந்த பின்னர் நடந்த பத்திரிகையார்கள் மாநாட்டில் ( ஒரு நிருபர் கேட்ட கேள்விக்கு வி.புலிகளின் அரசியல் தத்துவாசிரியர் அன்ரன் பாலசிங்கம் அளித்த பதில் பலரைக் குழப்பத்தில் ஆழ்த்தியுள்ளது.

அந்த நிருபர் கேட்ட கேள்வி இதுதான். விடுதலைப் புலிகள் தமிழீழக் கோரிக்கையை கைவிட்டு விட்டார்களா? இந்தக் கேள்விக்கு ஆங்கிலத்தில் திரு. பாலசிங்கம் அளித்த பதில் இதோ –

“I wish to impress on you that the LTTE does not operate according to the concept of separate state… We operate according to the concept of homeland and self-determination. Our demand for a homeland does not mean a separate state. It means autonomy or self-rule in areas where Tamils and Muslims live. Saying that the LTTE is fighting for independence has no relevance…”

” நான் உங்களுகுக்கு உணர்த்துவது என்னவென்றால், தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள் தனிநாடென்ற கருத்துப்படிவத்தில் செயற்படவில்லை. நாங்கள் தாயகம் மற்றும் சுயநிர்ணயம் என்ற கருத்துப்படிவத்தில் செயற்படுகிறோம். எங்களது தாயகக் கோரிக்கை என்பது தனி நாட்டுக்கான கோரிக்கை என்பதல்ல பொருள். அதன் பொருள் என்னவென்றால் தமிழர்களும் முஸ்லிம்களும் வாழும் பகுதிகளில் சுயாட்சி அல்லது தன்னாட்சி என்பது. வி,புலிகள் சுதந்திரத்துக்குப் போராடுகிறார்கள் என்று சொல்வது பொருத்தமானதல்ல…”

இந்தப் பதிலைச் செவிமடுத்த வெளிநாட்டு நிருபர்கள் பெரிதும் அதிர்ச்சி அடைந்தார்கள். உடனே ”வி.புலிகள் தனி நாட்டுக் கோரிக்கையை கைவிட்டு விட்டார்கள். அவர்கள் இப்போது கேட்பதெல்லாம் சுயாட்சி அல்லது தன்னாட்சிதான்” என்று செய்தி வெளியிட்டார்கள்.

சிலர் திரு. பாலசிங்கம் அவர்கள் தனிநாட்டுக் கோரிக்கை பற்றி முன்பு எழுதியும் பேசியும் வந்த கருத்துக்களை மேற்கோள் காட்டி எழுதி வருகிறார்கள். அண்மையில் அவரால் எழுதி வெளியிடப்படட  “Politics of Duplicity” (2000) என்ற நூலில் பின்வருமாறு எழுதியிருக்கிறார். சென்னையில் அப்போது வாழ்ந்துவந்த திரு. பாலசிங்கம் அவர்களை விஜய குமாரதுங்காவும் சந்திரிகா குமாரதுங்காவும் சந்தித்து இலங்கை இனச்சிக்கல் பற்றிக் கலந்துரையாடினார்கள்.

” At the time of our encounter, Chandrika (Kumaratunga) was not seriously involved in Sri Lankan politics but, showed intense curiosity over the political aims and objectives of the LTTE. For nearly an hour, I gave a thorough  theoretical exposition of the Tigers political project arguing our case for political independence and statehood based on the right to self- determination of the Tamil people.”

‘அந்தச் சந்திப்பின்போது சந்திரிகா குமாரதுங்கா ஸ்ரீலங்கா அரசியல்பற்றி அதிக அக்கறை கொண்டிருக்கவில்லை. ஆனால் வி.புலிகளின் அரசியல் குறிக்கோள்கள் பற்றி தீவிர ஆர்வம் காட்டினார். நான் கிட்டத்தட்ட ஒரு மணித்தியாலமாக வி.புலிகளின் அரசியல் திட்டம்பற்றி முழுமையான தத்துவ விளக்கம் கொடுத்தேன். அப்போது சுயநிர்ணய கோட்பாட்டின் அடிப்படையில் தமிழ் மக்கள் அரசியல் சுதந்திரத்துக்கும் தனியரசுக்கும் உரித்துடையவர்கள் என்று நான் வாதாடினேன்.”

இதனைவிட 1984 இல் அவர் எழுதியுள்ள Towards Liberation”  என்ற முதல் நூலில் உள்ள “Tamil National Freedom Struggle”  என்ற கட்டுரையில் (பக்கம் 49) அழுத்தமாக சுயநிர்ணய கோட்பாட்டின் அடிப்படையில் தமிழர்கள் தங்கள் அரசியல் தலைவிதியைத் தாங்களே முடிவு செய்து கொள்ளவும் (இலங்கைத் தீவில்) இருந்து பிரிந்து சென்று தனி அரசொன்றை உருவாக்கவும் அவர்களுக்கு உரிமையுண்டு என்று வாதிட்டிருக்கிறார்.

மேலெழுந்தவாரியாகப் பார்க்கும்போது தனிநாடுபற்றி திரு. பாலசிங்கத்தின் தாய்லாந்து பத்திரிகையாளர் மாநாட்டில் அளித்த பதிலும் அவர் அவ்வப்போது எழுதியும் பேசியும் வந்தவற்றுக்கும் இடையில் முரண்பாடு இருப்பது போல் தோன்றும். அதன் அடிப்படையிலேயே வி.புலிகள் தனிநாட்டுக் கோரிக்கையை அல்லது தமிழீழக் கோரிக்கையை கைவிட்டு விட்டார்கள் என்ற முடிவு அனைத்துலக மட்டத்தில் எழுந்துள்ளது.

உண்மை என்னவென்றால் தாய்லாந்து பேச்சு வார்த்தைகள் (16-09-2002) தமிழீழத்துக்கான பேச்சு வார்த்தைகள் அல்ல. தமிழீழம் என்ற சொல்லே அங்கே பேசப்படவில்லை.
அதனை ஸ்ரீலங்கா அரசு தரப்பில் கலந்து கொண்ட சட்டயாப்பு அமைச்சர் ஜி. எல். பீரிஸ் தெளிவுபடுத்தியுள்ளார். அவர் பேசியதாவது-

“And yet, in determining the parameters of the talks, there are some elements –rudimentary in quality– which cannot but be constant. These represent the irreducible foundations of what we care for and believe in. We stand unwaveringly for the amplest degree of devolution and for the establishment and strengthening of institutions designed to achieve this purpose. But these reforms must necessarily be effected within the framework of a State whose unity and territorial integrity is ensured in fact and in law by the envisioned structures.”

“பேச்சுவார்த்தைக்கான வரம்புகளை நிர்ணயிக்கும்போது, சில அடிப்டை விடயங்களை நாம் கவனத்தில் கொள்ள வேண்டும். இவை நாங்கள் கருத்த்pல் கொள்கின்ற, நம்புகின்ற குறைக்கமுடியாத அடித்தளங்கள் ஆகும். இந்தக் குறிக்கோளை அடைவதற்கு வேண்டிய அதிகளவு அதிகாரப் பரவலாக்கல் மற்றும் அதற்கு தேவையான அமைப்புக்களை உருவாக்கவும் பலப்படுத்தவும் ஆயத்தமாக உள்ளோம். ஆனால் இந்த சீர்திருத்தங்கள் அரசின் வரைவுக்குள் அதாவது ஐக்கியம் மற்றும் பிரதேச உறுதிப்பாட்டுக்கு அமைய நடைமுறையிலும் சட்டத்தின்படியும் செய்யப்பட வேண்டும்.”

இதனைப் படித்தவுடன் ”பழைய குருடி கதவைத் திறவடி” என்ற பழமொழி உங்கள் ஞாபகத்துக்கு வந்தால் அதையிட்டு நான் வியப்படைய மாட்டேன். ஒற்றையாட்சி என்ற சொல்லை அவர் பயன்படுத்தா விட்டாலும் அதைத்தான் சுற்றி வளைத்துச் சங்கேத மொழியில் சொல்கிறார்! அமைச்சர் பீரிஸ் சட்டப் பேராசிரியர் என்பதை மறந்துவிடக் கூடாது.

அமைச்சர் பீரிஸ் அதிகாரப் பரவலாக்கல் (Devolution) பற்றித்தான் பேசியிருக்கிறார். அதிகாரப் பகர்வுபற்றி (Power sharing  அவர் மூச்சே விடவில்லை. அதாவது அரசியல் யாப்பு 13வது சட்ட திருத்தத்குக்கு அப்பால் சிந்திப்பதாகத் தெரியவில்லை.

1995 இல் சனாதிபதி சந்திரிகா குமாரதுங்கா முன்மொழிந்த அரசியல் யாப்பு அதிகாரப் பகிர்வு அடிப்படையில் வரையப்பட்டது என்பது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது. ”13வது அரசியல் திருத்த சட்டத்தின் கீழ் இனப் பிரச்சினைக்குத் தீர்வு காணமுடியாது, அதிகாரப் பகிர்வின் மூலமே அதனைத் தீர்த்து வைக்கலாம்” என்பதில் அன்றும் சரி இன்றும் சரி சந்திரிகா குமாரதுங்கா தெளிவாக இருக்கிறார்! அந்தத் தெளிவு பிரதமர் ரணில் விக்கிரமசிங்காவிற்கு இருப்பதாகத் தெரியவில்லை.

பிரதமர் ரணில் விக்கிரமசிங்கா இனப் பிரச்சினையை 13வது அரசியல் திருத்தச் சட்டத்iதின் கீழ் வழங்கப்பட்ட அதிகாரப் பரவலாக்கலை மேலும் கொஞ்சம் கூட்டுவதன் மூலம் தீர்த்துவைக்கலாம் என ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சித் தேர்தல் மேடைகளில் பேசி வந்திருக்கிறார். அது மட்டும் அல்லாமல் இலங்கைத் தீவின் எந்தப் பகுதியும் ஒரு குறிப்பிட்ட மக்களுக்குச் சொந்தம் அல்ல. அது நாட்டில் வசிக்கும் சிங்களவர், தமிழர், முஸ்லிம்கள் எல்லோருக்கும் சொந்தம் என்று பேசி வருவதும் குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.
அமைச்சர் பீரிஸ் ஆற்றிய உரை திரு. பாலசிங்கம் அவர்களுக்கு ஆச்சரியத்தைக் கொடுத்திருக்காது. அதே போல் திரு. பாலசிங்கம் ஆற்றிய உரை அமைச்சர் பீரிசுக்கு வியப்பாக இருந்திருக்காது. நோர்வேயின் அனுசரணையுடன் முன்பே இருதரப்பாரும் பேசிப் பறைந்து விட்டுத்தான் தங்கள் தங்கள் உரைகளைத் தயார் செய்துள்ளார்கள் என்று ஊகிப்பது கடினமன்று! ஆன காரணத்தினால்தான் முதற் சுற்றுப் பேச்சு வார்த்தை சுமுகமாக முடிந்திருக்கிறது.

ஆனால் ஒன்றும் குடி முழுகிப் போகவில்லை. ”தமிழ்த் தேசியம், தமிழர் தாயகம், சுயநிர்ணய உரிமை ஆகியவற்றை ஏற்றுக்கொண்டு தாயகத்தில் சுயநிர்ணய உரிமையுடன் சுயாட்சி வழங்கப்படுமானால் அதை பரிசீலனை செய்யத் தயாராக இருக்கிறோம். மற்றப்படி அடக்கு முறை சூழ்நிலைகள் தொடருமானால் சுயநிர்ணய அடிப்படையில் நாம் பிரிந்து நின்று தனிநாட்டுக்காகப் போராடுவதைத் தவிர எமக்கு வேறு வழியில்லை. பிரதேச சுயாட் சிக்கான வழிமுறை குறித்து நாங்கள் இங்கு பேசும்போது தனிநாட்டுக் கோரிக்கையை கைவிட்டுவிட்டோமா என்ற கேள்வி எழுப்புவது அர்த்தமற்றதாகின்றது” என்றும் திரு. பாலசிங்கம் பேசியுள்ளார். சுயநிர்ணய உரிமை வழங்கப்பட்டால் தனிநாடா? சுயாட்சியா? என்பதை தமிழ் மக்களே தீர்மானிக்கலாம். அதாவது தமிழீழம் சுயநிர்ணய உரிமைக்குள் அடக்கம்.

இருந்தும் தாய்லாந்து பத்திரிகையாளர் மாநாட்டில் தலைவர் பிரபாகரன் அதே கேள்விக்குவன்னிப் பத்திரிகையாளர் மாநாட்டில் கொடுத்த பதிலை திரு. பாலசிங்கம் அவர்கள் தலையைச் சுற்றி மூக்கைத் தொடாது கொடுத்திருந்தால் இப்போது எழுந்துள்ள குழப்பம் எதுவும் இல்லாது இருந்திருக்கும்!

கூட்டிக் கழித்துப் பார்த்தால் வி.புலிகளின் இன்றைய நிலைப்பாட்டை இரண்டு விதமாகப் பார்க்கலாம்.

(1) தமிழீழ விடுதலைக் கோரிக்கையை நாங்கள் கைவிட வில்லை. சுயநிர்ண உரிமை வழங்கப்படும் என்ற நம்பிக்கையில் அதனைப் பேசாமல் விட்டிருக்கிறோம்.

(2) சுயாட்சிக்காக தமிழீழக் கோரிக்கையை தற்காலிகமாகக் கைவிட்டு விட்டோம். தேவை ஏற்படின் மீண்டும் அதைக் கையில் எடுத்து இரண்டில் ஒன்று என்று போராடுவோம்.

அத்துவைத வேதாந்த தத்துவத்தின் அடிப்படையில் சொல்வதென்றால் இது இரண்டின்மை என்ற நிலை. அதாவது ஜீவாத்மாவும் பரமாத்மாவும் இரண்டில்லை ஒன்றுதான்!

சுயநிர்ணயம் தமிழீழம் இரண்டும் வெவ்வேறல்ல ஒன்றுதான்! கேள்வியும் நானே! பதிலும் நானே! (நம்நாடு – 26-09-2002)


Norwegian Peace Initiative

Transcript of Press Conference
at Conclusion of First Round of Peace Talks, 

18 September 2002

 ERIC SOLHIEM (Moderator)

A happy welcome to this Press Conference proceedings will be rather easy Deputy Minister Vidar Helgesen sitting in the middle will start giving you his personal implications on what has happened and will read to you the press release which I think I have made available to each and everyone and if someone who has not got the release it will be arranged. Thereafter you will be able to put questions to Mr. Balasingham to the left and to Mr. Peiris to the right .

This press conference will be held in the same atmosphere as the peace talks itself. That means friendly, warm , cordial and batting to the order which means that no one would get the floor by shouting questions and anything like that. Anyone who wants to put questions will do it through me. All other questions will be simply ignored. Then this press conference is also a press conference on the present state of the peace process and will entertain all questions relating to the peace process and peace talks today.

But we will not entertain all questions relating to the domestic affairs of Sri Lanka,  no reason politics for that matter or the history of Sri Lanka and all other matters since the time limit is certainly too short for that. So any one trying to bring up all the other matters will have to wait to later press conferences by either of the party of joint press conferences of them all. These are the basic rules of this press conference. Again a happy welcome and I give the floor to Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen.

VIDA R HELGESEN

Thank you very much Eric. It is a really a pleasure to address this gathering on this very important occasion and pieces of good news to communicate. I like to confirm Eric’s words that peace talks have been cordial and constructive. We had a casual dress code and a casual tone of voice between the parties. There has been a nice atmosphere not restricted to the negotiating table but also to the chats at the coffee table. This does not change the facts that the parties realized the seriousness of the challenges and not least the long term perspective of this process.

I said at the out set of this peace talks on Monday that the parties have shown the courage and leadership. They have continued over the last 48 hours to do so not only in words but also deeds not only talking at the table but also agreeing on practical steps forward. They have been working in spirit of togetherness, and in a spirit of seeking solutions and finding solutions. That is why the key message of our statement is that the parties are off to a promising start and we are taking practical steps for peace to bring the process forward.

I will now proceed to read the formal statement by the Norwegian Government agreed to by the parties.

The first round of the formal peace talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam was held in Sattahip, in Thailand between 16-18 of September 2002. The negotiations were facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government. The parties agreed that in their determination to bring the peace process forward they are responding to the over whelming call of the people of Sri Lanka to bring an end to the ethnic conflict to create conditions for a lasting peace, prosperity and to respect for human rights.

First parties expressed their resort to address the full range of issues pertaining to a lasting settlement of the conflict. Fully realizing that peace can best be achieved by pursuing a step by step approach to the negotiating process, this approach has proven successful in the establishment and the implementation of ceasefire agreement already in force since February this year. The parties recognized for the need for sustaining this ceasefire agreement with the continued assistance of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission which the parties commended for its impartial conduct in the fulfillment of its important mandate.

The parties affirmed their determination to continue upholding the ceasefire agreement and expanding the range of confidence building measure over the period a head. Building on the achievement of the ceasefire agreement the parties agreed to establish promptly a joint committee to deal with issues relating to high security zones. With the aim of enabling the return of larger numbers of displaced persons to their areas of origin thereby facilitating the restoration of normalcy. This joint committee will consists of senior representatives of both sides including Military Personnel.

The parties discussed in depth the urgent needs to address difficult humanitarian situations in the North and East of Sri Lanka. To this respect the parties agreed to establish a joint task force for humanitarian and reconstruction activities. This Joint Task Force will constitute a partnership between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE and will have the responsibility for the identification, financing and monitoring of urgent humanitarian and reconstruction activities in the North and East.

The Task Force will operate with due participation of Muslims and its work will benefit all ethnic communities of North and East. The details relating to the mandate and structure of the Joint Task Force will rapidly be finalized between the parties with the assistance of the Norwegian facilitators. What has already been agreed are the two immediate priorities of the parties being first setting up humanitarian action and second accelerating resettlement and rehabilitation of internally displaced persons. The parties expressed their gratitude for the extensive goodwill of the International Community towards the peace process.

They urged the donors to provide immediate funding for humanitarian priorities. This will enhance public confidence in the peace process and thus contribute to the further progress in the quest for peace in Sri Lanka.

The parties also agreed that the establishment of a Joint Task Force is a sign of increasing level of trusts between parties an d of their willingness to work together towards the establishment of a Provisional Administrative Structure for the North and East. Recognizing that way forward is a long one and a demanding one that the parties agreed to continue rounds of negotiations that three next round of negotiations will take place on the following days.

31st October-3rd November 2002,
2-5 of December 2002 and
6-9 January 2003.

These are the three next rounds of schedules to follow. The parties as well as the the Norwegian facilitator reiterated their appreciation to the Royal Thai Government for their kindness for providing venue for their negotiation as well as the generous hospitality shown to the delegation.

That concludes the statement and before turning the floor again to the moderator I would like to highlight one particular issue. I said at the out set of the talks on Monday that it is in the interest of the World Community to see Sri Lanka succeed in this process and therefore it is in our common interest to provide immediate funding to practical peace building on the ground. The parties have now started taking practical steps for peace building on the ground focusing on the immediate humanitarian needs setting the priorities for humanitarian action and agreed on a Joint Task Force to act rapidly . But they can’t act rapidly unless the donors act rapidly. Now the World Community need to take practical steps to support the parties in their determination to bring peace to Sri Lanka. To support the people of Sri Lanka in building peace from below while the leaders discuss the peace at the top. That is our very clear message to International Community to and thank you.

PRESS CONFERENCE

MARVAN MACAN MARCAR of INTER PRESS SERVICE:

Critics of the Tamil tigers have always questioned your commitment and faith to the peace talks given what has happened in the past. Could you please give us few reasons why they are wrong and why you should be believed this time that you are serious to pursue talks with Sri Lankan Government and reach a political solution.

ANTON BALASINGHAM:

I do not agree with the critics when they claimed that LTTE was not concerned or interested in the peace process. The LTTE has been participating the peace process in several occasions since 1995, at Thiumpu until present time hat there were several occasions in which we have expressed our willingness to negotiate with the Government of Sri Lanka. But it is we now confident that the peace process is going to advanced and succeed that one main reason that it is the first time a third party facilitator involved in and guiding the peace process between the parties in conflict. Secondly a stable foundation for peace is established and ceasefire was holding for last seven months and a stable ceasefire is very crucial for we concentrate on a stable foundation for peace process and thirdly there is an international monetary mission consisting of Nordic and Scandinavian countries supervising the ceasefire.

There given an additional reason that the entire international community for the first time is focusing on the dialogue on the peace process between Sri Lankan Government and LTTE and quickly we have a team. I appreciate the team that the Sri Lanka has produced this time consists of men of caliber and understanding and we can relate to them and we can discuss with them and we were happy for the last three days that we have discussed very many complicated issues, core-issues, substantial issues, peripheral issues whatever it may be and we were able to proceed positively and that I am very much convinced that this peace process will succeed.

ROMAN BOOSE, CHAIRMAN, NEWS ASIA.

My question is directed towards you in regard to the meetings held in last three days. Was there discussions about the question of disarmament of the LTTE and on what conditions will the LTTE actually disarm ?

ANTON BALASINGHAM.

There is no question of disarmament at this stage of the discussions. You know very well this is both the parties the Sri Lankan Government as well as the LTTE have two standing Armies and also two standing Navies and that it is the first time a stable ceasefire has been established. The Question of disarming will not arise until we    reach a permanent settlement that will satisfy the aspirations of the Tamil people. So I think it is very premature on your part to raise this question of disarmament at this stage.

DACK AND HARROLD

You have given priorities to humanitarian issues. Have you worked out the cost of reconstruction and the number of displaced people and how soon they are going to be resettled in the North and East ?

ANTON BALASINGHAM

Yes, we have worked out all the details in so far as the number of displaced people are concerned. We have in our possession the facts and figure with regard to the number of displaced. But in so far that the allocation of funds for rehabilitation and resettlement of these people , it is yet to be worked out because we do not have any estimate of the funds that may be needed for the resettlement of the massive number of displaced persons.

MR. WATTSON FROM SINGAPORE MEDIA CORPORATION.

The LTTE’s demand for a separate land has been a burning issue that has not been solved. Does this peace talks or the agreement meet your given up demand for a separate land ? I want your answer in English as well as in Tamil please.

ANTON BALASINGHAM.

First of all I want to impress upon you that the LTTE does not operate with the concept of a separate state. We operate with conception categories that is entirely different from what assumed to be a separate state. We operate with a concept of ‘Homeland and self-determination. Homeland , it does not mean a separate state as such. It refers to a territory where Tamils and Muslim people live or the Tamil speaking people live and when we use the category or concept it entails substantial autonomy or self government in our homeland or in the historical area where we live and that a solution can be worked out it both the parties agreed to a particular political system or model.

But if our demand for a self-Government and regional autonomy is rejected and that as a last resort our people have no option other than to fight for political independence and statehood that will be the last resort under the principle of self determination. So everything, you must understand the current literature, current UN literature of self-determination. We operate through those concepts.

So saying that LTTE is fighting for a separate independent state has no relevance, because we operate with different categories and concepts.

(Answers in Tamils too)

SOLHIEM

Sinhala or Tamil will not be understandable to many a persons……. Please if possible put your questions in English.

BBC REPORTER.

Mr Balasingham, how do you discuss core-issues, substantial issues and territorial issues whatever the way you want to call them and you were able to proceed positively ? Did you move beyond just rehabilitation and reconstruction issues ? What did you discuss ? And can you tell us a bit about that ?

SOLHIEM

May I give the floor to Mr. Peiris and discuss first and then Mr. Balasingham can explain you on that.

G.L. PEIRIS.

I think all these matter were addressed. We looked at the political and legal issues and we agreed on a certain sequence when these are to be taken up and we began with the immediate issues of importance and concern to people of our country the humanitarian issues, demanding re construction rehabilitation, ways and means of expediting the progress towards these objectives and very important the resources to undertake substantial programs of economic development not only for the North and East but for the country as a whole. So we went into some details with regard to the nature of the structure that has to be set up for this purpose. Because economic development is certainly one of the important aspects of the peace process . So it is not correct that we have confined ourselves to any particular gamut of issues we have covered the whole drum which will be in a comprehensive approach and we have got our parties right, we have decided where to begin, what to address next and the whole budgetory of the process was discussed. In fact we were able to agree on the dates for the next meetings. So there is certain structure , certain sequence, a coherent frame work within which we will be carrying process forward.

ANTON BALASINGHAM

I will agree with Prof. Peiris because this is the Tamil national question. Tamil ethnic conflict which is a very complex issue that has a history of 50 years. So you cannot expect us to resolve this problem within a very short period of time and we need time. This problem has to be approached stage by stage and I think we had a very good start where we have not only discussed about the problems of reconstructions, rehabilitations and resettlement of the displaced. But we have also discussed about the possibility of setting up an interim administrative set up in the course of coming sessions and that the care will be taken up and I would kindly suggest that we must understand that this process will only succeed if we take up the issues one by one and address it step by step and try to redress them in a long and arduous process.

RAJPAL ABEYNAYAKE – SUNDAY TIMES, COLOMBO.

In your statement it has been said that joint task force is a sign of the existing kind of trust of the parties and of their willingness to work together towards the establishment of a provisional administrative structure for the North and East. There has been intense speculations in Colombo that this talks would lead to a setting up of an interim administration. Now when you say provisional administration that there was willingness to work towards a provisional administration does it mean there were discussions on the establishment of an Interim Administration led by the LTTE as it had been speculated intensely in the newspapers in Colombo. If there was any discussion on the interim administration what was the nature of it. How is it going to be established in law if it was discussed in that fashion ?

ANTON BALASINGHAM

Whom you are addressing this question to ?

RAJPAL

To either one of the Chief negotiators.

SOLHIEM

Since it means broad law I start giving the floor to Mr. G.L. Peiris will and then Balasingham may talk something afterwards.

G.L. PEIRIS

Then again we have to make a fundamental point to you. You have to start at somewhere and go step by step. Infact this has been the consistent approach of the government and I would say that is the main reason why this process has come to the present positive stage. One step at a time. Now with regard to the Interim Administration or whatever a provisional administration whatever you wish to call it, we have not gone into details about the composition of it or structure of it, but we have prepared the grounds for it. We have taken the preliminary steps that are necessary to create conditions which are conducive to that particular initiative. So, we have addressed what we have to do at every point along the way. That is certainly something that has to be done in the future not immediately. I do not think it would have been reasonable to try to attempt it on the very first occasion when the two parties net directly for talks. But we have addressed the preliminary issues relating to that and we have agreed among ourselves how should take that forward in one next occasion.

ANTON BALASINGHAM

There is a misconception in Colombo , that the Interim Administration will go into be an end in itself. But as far as we are concerned we are talking about the process and the interim or provisional administrative structure which we have not discussed in depth or an any detail as the Prof. Has said. But will be a part of the ongoing process of reaching a final settlement or rather it will be an organic process. So this conception that the LTTE is only interested in the interim administration and once we get the interim administration we will run away from the peace process is a total misconception. But I think there is nothing wrong in setting up of an administrative structure. The LTTE must be given a role, a pivotal role to play and that we have been fighting in the last 20 years and we were involved in a violent crucial war and you must give a place and opportunity for our fighters , our cadre to run the administration in our own homeland .What is wrong in that ? So there is unnecessary apprehensions in Colombo as a noted newspaper you must try to clarify these issues. And I think there is nothing wrong with the formation of provisional administrative setup.

REPORTER FROM ENGLAND-SOUTH CHAIRMAN’S POST.

Can I ask both Professor Peiris and Mr. Balasingham personally you both have reached in varied histories in this whole process over the last two decades, this is the first time you really sat together and got to know each other. What did you think of each other ?

G.L. PEIRIS.

I think certainly I have enjoyed meeting and working with Dr. Balasingham that is a very important part of this process for people to build up confidence, support and even apart from the very formal sessions, we had a series of conversation. We have understood each others points of view. This does not mean that total agreement is possible. But throughout this process we are very conscious of the fact that if we are to achieve success we have to understand each others anxieties concerns and we have to be sensitive to the problems of other side and process of getting to know each other and talking to each other has certainly been helpful in order to achieve that objective without which no negotiating process can be successful.

ANTON BALASINGHAM

As far as I am concerned the congenial personal relationship is extremely crucial for the success of embarking on a peace process and not only we are meeting each other at this particular round of talks but we had occasions to meet several members of the government and we had a very good support particularly Milinda Moragoda and some others we have met several times and I have met Mr. Hakeem couple of times and we established a very good rapport. So I would assure you that we are developing a personal relationship, a relationship of mutual understanding. That will promote the peace process.

SOLHIEM

Though your question was just raised to Mr. Balasingham and Prof. Peiris, I would also give chance to Vidaar Helgesen to make few comments on this matter because you are the virtual referee who should confirm how excellent the atmosphere really was.

HELGESEN

I think I can confirm that by saying what suddenly came to my mind, it actually seemed like they had a pretty good time.

QUESTIONS.

This is a question to both Prof. Peiris as well as Dr. Balasingham . Though you have said that the proposed North Eastern Interim Administration had been discussed in a preliminary way, I think this question is still relevant at this stage. Are you kind of considering handing over this interim administration to the LTTE or, is this Interim Administration going to reflect the Pluralistic composition of the North East which means will there be representatives for Muslims as well as the Sinhalese and other parties ?

G.L. PEIRIS

I think the phrase ‘handing over’ is very unfortunate. That is a wrong way to look at problems of this kind. What we are thinking of is a structure which will enable a partnership. Parties have to work with each other, they have to be involved in matters. Participation is indispensable, if there is to be a solution at the political level. Of course there is no question of excluding anyone. These structures by their very nature have to be all inclusive. They have to reflect the ethnic and the cultural diversity of the country. And they have to cater for the aspirations of all section of our people and those consideration will be fully addressed when the time comes to addressing in the depth the structure that we contemplate.

ANTON BALASINGHAM

As far as I am concerned, it is premature to make comment about the nature, structure and the functions of the emphasized interim set up. As correctly said we will be exploring these possibilities and work out in an amicable framework that would be satisfy the aspirations of our people as well as the Sinhalese people living in North East.

JAPANESE NEWS AGENCY.

Please explain concretely which kind of international aid do you need right now ? Specially for Asian countries because today’s senior mediator is Norway. Thank you very much.

G.L.PEIRIS.

Well I think that the point we are making is that the conditions in the country today are conducive to starting modest programs of development. So we do not really have to wait until formal peace returns in a formal sense until some formal agreement is signed. That is not necessary because since 22nd of February there has been no violence that is a very considerable to the treatment that there is peace in the country and it is therefore quite possible to start a whole variety of programs they may not be very extensive when scoped, but they will certainly make a tangible difference to the lives of the people. Now we think that the donor community will be receptive to the point of view that they will be prepared . I think to start programs initially on a modest scale and to expand the scope of these development of the programs that is very much what we hope. Would be possible . that is the basis on which we will be talking with international community during th next few days . The Hon. Milinda Moragoda will be going to the Washington and to London and I will be going to Ottawa to meet the Foreign Minister of Canada. The Hon. Milinda Moragoda will be meeting Ministers of overseas development in the U.K. The Prime Minister has met several leading figures in New York at the U.N.. So I think that the effort is certainly going to be successful given the high degree of interests in Sri Lanka at present time.

BALASINGHAM

I agree with the Professor.

C.N.N.

The International Community has been watching closely that what is going on here in Thailand. Do you feel that you have done enough with what you have come to today out of the three of the last days to many to many of those who were skeptical that these negotiations sessions will be resolved as the previous held in Chambers. Do you think you have developed enough to move forward and trunk back aid and investment that Sri Lanka should ask foreign aid ?

ANTON BALASINGHAM

I think we have done now in the sense your questions should not be confined to last three days because for the last 8 months we have been consistently working first to formulate the ceasefire document. The Norwegian facilitators were able to work out a framework of a stable ceasefire agreement which both parties agreed and signed. This ceasefire agreement was signed in the February this year. This is also part of the peace process so that was a great achievement After 20 years of war, this is the first time a stable ceasefire agreement was signed with an international monetary mission supervising the peace process, or the ceasefire. Now for the last 7 months this ceasefire was holding on that itself demonstrates the fact that both the parties are sincerely committed to the peace process. Secondly there have been several meetings between the Chief Protagonist that is the Tamil Tigers and the Government of Sri Lanka and that only recently we have met here in Thailand from a structured talks.

The structured talk is crucial because the objective of structured talks is to bring about to matters urgent and immediate problems as wee as core issues and to work on our concrete agenda and that this process will go on and so far we have achieved substantial results in stabilizing ceasefire and working out some concrete plans to bring up the war ravaged economy of North and East. And the International Community which have been supporting the peace process asking both the parties to enter into a political dialogue to solve the ethnic question and we are doing so.
And now it is the obligation of the international community to help us. So hat peace process could be advanced further.

G.L. PEIRIS

I think the international community is now certain of several things. One is that there is a degree of seriousness and firm political resolute. Secondly that a structure has been set up to handle these resources and that structure involves collaboration between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. There is no question of antagonism on the contrary that there is partnership and I am sure that will inspire confidence in the donor community.

KANENA LAL – AUSTRAIAN NEWSPAPER.

I understand the talks were courteous and congenial. But I am just wondering at what points did you disagree , what subjects did you decide to put into the hard basket for taking at a later times ?

G.L. PEIRIS.

Well of course there would be divergence of opinions of otherwise there would be no need for negotiating process. I should say that there has been no sharp acute acrimonious disagreements. There was nothing of that kind. We understand the differences in our points of view and different perceptions and there we explored the ways and means of narrowing down these differences. That is the essence of negotiating process and just as much as the process has been moving forward for the past 7 months.

As Dr. Balasingham said, of course since the ceasefire agreement signed in February there was a lot of skeptism. Many people thought it would break down surely which did not happen. Likewise, that did not mean there were no problems. There ware problems but they were addressed in such a manner as to present escalation. Likewise from this process also we have identified differences and also we know how we can tackle them in order to achieve the objectives of a lasting and durable political settlement.

QUESTION

What are they ?

BALSINGHAM

What I conceive is both the parties are seriously committed to make the process successful . Within that context you can expect that we will try to avoid any contentious issues that would create any contradiction at this early stage. Of course there are difference of views in so far as the position of both parties are concerned. There are different wills we are trying ways and means to reconcile this contradictory positions in the course of time. The success of the peace process will depend on , how the parties can work out ways and means to reconcile irreconcilable positions and we hope in the course of time we can come over these difficulties.

QUESTION

My question to both Mr. Balasingham and Mr. Peiris is that critics of the entire peace process in Colombo and elsewhere have been telling that the interim administration is a stepping stone to Tamil Elam. What will be your reaction to that ?
My second question is to Mr. Helgesen and Dr. Balasingham. There have been reports of proposed visits of Dr. Balasingham to Vanni immediately afterwards. What is your comment ?

G.L. PEIRIS

Interim Administration is exactly what its name connotes. It also links to the final objectives relating to the separation of functions and allocation of responsibilities between the central government and regional structure. So it has to be seen as part of the process. It does not stop there. Apprehensions are entirely unfounded. But it is a useful mechanism. Far from doing any damage it is necessary among other things to accelerate the economic development in those areas it will provide a coherent structure within which development programs can be undertaken. There will be proper fiscal responsibility. You know who are the officials who are interested with particular functions. You need the formal structure of that kind to undertake development on the scale that is required on the present stage. But it does not stop there that is one step of the process and that is a launching pad for the accomplishment of other aims and objectives which we will work towards a little further down the way.

BALASINGHAM

Your question that the LTTE is going for demanding for this Interim Administration as a step towards establishing and independent State of Elam of something. That is not our view. But you must remember that the LTTE has already got a permanent administration in our controlled areas. Therefore we need not have an interim administration. Actually like what we are seeking is a legitimacy…international legitimacy for administrative structure where we can co-ordinate with the government of Sri Lanka as well as to seek some recognition from the international community. But as I have already said our objective is when you use the concept of Elam, I disagree with you. We do not operate within the concept of Elam. We operate with the concept of self-determination which has multiple meanings and objectives and that we are not seeking an Interim setup as an end itself.

As I repeatedly said this is a process and then we will reach a stage where substantial and core issues will be taken up and that is used to seek a model that would satisfy the aspirations of our people that would lead to an autonomous self-government in our area. I do not want to go into these details as at this stage because these are the areas that we have to explore and work out on amicable agreement is the cause of time but I have to impress upon you that the Interim Administration is not our objective at all because we have already got a massive permanent structure in the area under our control.

HELGESEN

As in regard to Mr. Balasingham’s travel plans I have not seen his air tickets…But. I do know he is going to London tomorrow, if not day after tomorrow, something like that.

WIJAYA JOSY FROM AP

My question is to Prof. Peiris. A little while ago, Dr. Balasingham said there is no question of disarmament . what is your reaction to that ?

Are you also heartened by his comments that they are not seeking separate State, but only a self-autonomy. Does that fill you with hopes ?

G.L.PEIRIS

Definitely. Because we know that, that was not the objective of the LTTE. They have stated it categorically on this occasion. A separate state is not what their aspiration are about and their aspiration can be fulfilled within one country if you set about it in a proper way. That is exactly the spirit in which we proposed to handle these discussions. So I do not think that there is any problem about it. The government is certainly feel about it. What was the next question ?

Disarmament.

No, at the beginning of a negotiating process you do not ask for disarmament. You have to achieve some progress with regard to the substantial issues and the decommissioning of weapons and demilitarization. Such questions would come at a later stage .That is how any realistic, pragmatic negotiating process would be handled.

QUESTION

This question is to Minister Peiris.and then follow up to the Tamil side . What would be your guarding principle dealing with the issue of custody and war crimes and issues of Tamil side ?

G.L.PEIRIS

Well. We are at a stage as I indicated in m y opening presentation . This is not a question of retribution or vengence . We have to put all that behind us. There has to be sea change We have to take spot of existing situation and move forward . As far as we are concerned there is no conflicts between human right violation and the conflict resolution process. There are not incompatible. Human Right are part and parcel of it and we do not anticipate any serious differences of opinion between these parties because any conflict resolution which is going to stand the test of time will have to be founded upon the right and aspirations of the people. I do not think we will have much difficulty in reconciling these two things as part of the process that we have embarked upon.

QUESTIONS

That sounds ,You know these cannot be dealing with . Is that correct ?

G.L.PEIRIS

That was not a matter that arose during the discussions of last two or three days. We have been working according to a certain agenda. We were addressing the issues that we thought crucial at this point of time and the matters which you raised did not form a part of the Agenda of the last two days.

QUESTION

With respect…..that was not my question.

G.L.PEIRIS

I am sorry we have indicated that these are all matters that can be taken up as part of the discussions and they were no discussed during the last two days. That does not preclude them from discussions in the future.

SOLHIEM

Deputy Minister Helgesen leaves for a very important appointment but we will continue a little further if both sides can accept that..

QUESTION.

I would like to ask a question from Prof. Peiris from 1994 onwards you are involved in the peace process . In your opening ceremony you mentioned that the President started this peace process. But today also Sri Lankan Newspapers say the president has not given a clear statement. So we would like to know the PA Government President says that she is for peace but who is closely associating with her join hand with JVP and they are sabotaging the peace process. I would like to know how are you going to manage these things and bring peace and we would like to know from your point of view whether the President is for Peace or she is against the peace process.

G.L.PEIRIS

All I would like to say is there is an overwhelming majority of people in the country are solidly behind peace. There cannot be any question about it. Across the political divide there is a deep desire for peace. And everything that we have done here during the last couple of days in a way is a response to those aspirations on the part of our people.

Which have been very powerfully and very convincingly articulated. The country does not believe in war , this was has gone for 18 years , we can all see the destructions that has been caused by the war. And today the country is deeply committed to a political process and there is a profound conviction that is the only key to a viable solution.

I do not think that there can be anybody out of line with the basic approach that recommend a deep conviction of the people of Sri Lanka and we are greatly enthused by that reality which is very much in evidence.

QUESTION

I would like to ask the questions from the moderator actually as the facilitator is not there. Fron the Adviser Eric Solheim I think the Norway and America are very keen on Sri Lankan peace but we are doubt about it that the Indian Government international policy because after quick as possible signing the MOU agreement the Trincomalee harbour was given the right to the Indian government because when the Indu-Sri Lanka Pact is concerned they came as solving the problem and they put the North that the Trincomalee Harbour should without their knowledge we cannot give it to anybody. So we would like to comment from you before ending the peace process we do not like to give pieces to the other countries and we are not doubt about the Norway and the America but we still doubt about the previous people who were wanting to help us and wanted to get benefit s from their international policies .

PEIRIS

I do not think that there is problem at all. That is a commercial transaction . India is solidly behind the peace process. India wishes this well. India has categorically stated that. The Republic of India does not want to see the millitarization of Sri Lanka. They have been kept regularly informed we know that we have their goodwill and there is no problem of the kind that you envisage at all.

SOLHEIM

Since you put question to me as the moderator, I will of course be the moderator here but in our experience as Norwegians exactly what we feel is the Indians have been solidly 100% behind the peace process and without the help and assistance of India it will be very very difficult to achieve the results which are achieved so far . India is supporting 100%.

QUESTION

Would you be making a joint appeal for foreign aid how much will you be appealing for at this stage ? Thirdly what do you consider appealing for a pledging conference which we saw with your appearance recently ?

PEIRIS

Yes, We are making a joint appeal. We both want to succeed
in this the Royal Norwegian Government has facilitated with also the appealing to the International community and having a series of meetings with them and as part of this process we may well have a pledging conference within the next few months and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka will probably take that initiative.

QUESTION

I am from H.K.E. My question is to Mr. Balasingham I heard just now that there is dedicated effort of the Norwegian Government and my question is what makes you attract and win the Norwegians and make it possibly . Can you comment on your kidney operation in Norway and my second question is in this peace process lifting ban on LTTE is a key factor and your decision to give up the suicide mission make it possible I think. So my question is why LTTE has decided to denounce the suicide mission ?

SOLHIEM

Bala ,there is a question about Norway and Suicide missions.

BALASINGHAM

I had a kidney transplant operation three years ago. We are very thankful to the Government of Norway for providing medical facilities to have the operation done in Oslo and that helped me to revive and there is contribution to peace as well. It is an act of humanitarian gesture on the part of the Norwegian Government. We are thankful.

As far as we do not use concept of suicide attack as you know since our agreement , there is a total cessation armed violence. There is peace in Sri Lanka and if there is a permanent settlement there wont be any form of violence and we can assure you that we are striving for our level best to work out a permanent settlement to the ethnic problem. That will put an end to all forms of violence including armed struggle. That is all. Thank you.

QUESTIONS

Was there any instructions from your Leader Leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran to stop the mission ?

BALASINGHAM

I think that question is not relevant.

QUESTION

Was there any further instruction from your leader Prabhakaran to stop the suicide mission ?

SOLHIEM

I think we should not go into all these details. I mean both sides have stopped all sorts of atrocities and all sort of military attacks on each other of every kind. That is made 2002 this year.

QUESTION

This question is for Prof. Peiris. We all know very well that President Chandrika Kumarantunge has been against to lift the ban on LTTE. But now from this press conference and from the proceeding s of peace talks we have come to know that you have moved closer. But when you bring back peace decisions and peace plans, will you think that the President Chandrika Kumaratunge will have approval for this. Will she be a stumbling Walk for this peace process ?

PEIRIS

No, I think that at the end of the day the guiding factor is the strength of feeling in the Country. And nobody who assesses the Sri Lankan scene at all realistically today can entertain the slightest doubt about the vigour of public feeling with regard to peace.
So in a democratic culture where the aspirations of the people have to be taken into account , we doubt very much that anybody in the high excellence of Government will feel able to defy the wishes of the people to barrage them. So we do not think that is really a danger.

SOLHEIM

We will now entertain maybe one or two questions .

VINITHA WICKRAMANAYAKE FROM TRANS ASIA NEWS SERVICE.

Mr. Anton Balasingham, I want to quote a small saying ‘Unitedly stand dividedly fall’. What is your personal opinion on this saying?

SOLHEIM

Since there is so short of time , put questions directly related to the peace process and Peace talks in Sri Lanka.

HINDUSTAN TIMES.

This is a question addressed to Dr. Balasingham. Please do not say that is premature. In the Interim Administration that is going to formed , will there be a place for political parties other than the LTTE and those few parties which are not with the TNA. What is your plan for the Muslims ? What is the kind of representation you are thinking of at this point of time ?

BALASINGHAM

You are well aware that our relationship with TNA consisting of four to five parties and they have been brought to power on a mandate that a way recognized the LTTE as the sole representative of our people. Of course there are other small parties. We have never made any attempt to repress them , but they have every freedom to contest if there is any electoral process under the Interim Administrative structure. Most important question is the Muslim community. I can assure you that both the Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE will consider a substantial representation of Muslim people in the Interim Administrative structure because we recognize the Muslims living in the North and the East as our brothers and also the Tamil homeland is a part of their territory. So therefore they will have their place and we will have a series of discussions with Muslim Leadership on this matter in the course of time.

SOLHEIM

We will now entertain two more questions.

ZACKIE JABAAR-THE ISLAND
Professor Peiris you said that there is a large following for peace in Sri Lanka but there is a majority feeling that in the Interim Administration may eventually lead to a separate state. How do you respond to that ?

PEIRIS

That question has been already answered. The Interim Administration is linked to broader objectives. It is a means of achieving something else. It is not an end in itself and that is misconception .

QUESTION

But will that lead to a Regional Council with wider powers ?

PEIRIS

No, of course it is a regional council with specific responsibilities for the development of that area. You have similar structures for the rest of the country.
QUESTION – G.T.N. PARIS.

Sri Lanka has lifted the ban on LTTE . Will you appeal to the International Community through your country to lift the ban ?

PEIRIS

No, Sri Lanka has taken a decision for herself. Sri Lanka announced it as early as June this year that once definite dates are fixed for direct talks , our country will be prepared to lift the ban ten days before the commencement of talks in order to create the atmosphere that is necessary for the talks to commence and to continue cordially. So we have done that. There is a broader acceptance in the country for that, because our people want this process to succeed .That is decision for Sri Lanka to make and we made that decision.

BALASINGHAM

As far as the LTTE is concerned the deproscription of LTTE is a necessary condition for participating in the peace process because we feel that deprosciption is necessary for acknowledging our Liberation Movement as an authentic representative of our people.

So Sri Lankan Government has de-proscribed us and now we are participating together in the peace process as equals as authentic representatives of our people . In so far as the de-proscription in other countries is concerned we are confident if the peace process succeeds and in the process other countries will be compelled to review their stand and if they are convinced the peace process is going to succeed they might consider de-proscribing the LTTE.

FRANCES BULATHSINHALA- SUNDAY OBSERVER.

Mr. Solheim, can you please tell us whether the LTTE leader is skeptical about the proceedings of the peace talks for past three days ? That is my question number 1. And question number 2 is about the issue of prisoner exchange. If could just comment on how you will work it out and the number of POWs from the LTTE side back to government plans to release as well as the LTTE when Sinhala POWs are concerned ?

And also about the rights of the Muslims what was exactly discussed the facilitation of atmosphere conducive to the Muslims in North and East because you all know that there are plenty of mosques in Jaffna and other Eastern Areas which have already demolished . So where rehabilitation is concerned how modalities will be worked out to make normal for the Muslims as well.

BALASINGHAM

I can assure you that we are in touch with the LTTE leader Mr. Prabhakaran and every aspect of the discussion conveyed to him and he is very happy and satisfied with the whole process. Secondly, question of exchanging the prisoners of war is being still discussed and very soon there will be a working arrangement and there will be exchange very soon. Thirdly I do not think there is any extensive damage to mosques in Jaffna . There are several mosques in Jaffna which are not severely damaged. But when we launch the reconstruction program in the North priority will be given to rebuild these mosques and allow our Muslim brothers to perform their worship in these mosques.

PEIRIS

Well that is an issue that is being addressed. We have already made some progress and there are some other steps to be taken in the future as Dr. Balasingham indicated we have identified what needs to be done and we will be setting up a committee consisting both sides to look at these issues.

SOLHEIM

There will be no more questions and either Mr Balasingham or Mr. Peiris will make a few timely remarks what was basically achieved .

BALASINGHAM

As far as the engagement her in Thailand is concerned the LTTE is very happy . I think we have achieved a remarkable success in establishing a very cordial relationship and the discussions were very constructive and we have taken few decisions and this process is going to continue .And before my concluding remarks I wish to thank the Royal Government of Thailand for offering us a venue and providing us with a gracious hospitality and that we again express our gratitude to the Government of Thailand.

PEIRIS

From our point of view I would entirely agree with that I think that there are several solid achievements. One is that this process will go on and it is not going to break down whatever the difficulties may arise we will hold fast to our course of political negotiation. Secondly we have dealt with some of the immediate issues like de-mining . De-mining is very important we have dealt with de-mining , the resettlement of internally displaced people and concrete measures have been put in place. Thirdly with regard to the Economic Development which is very important. After all the main objective is to make life easier and better. We have set up certain structures , we have established a partnership and we have inspired confidence in international communities . So we are now in a position to make a direct appeal to them with conviction and finally we have agreed and that this also must not be underestimated we have clearly accepted that all these issues must be considered and nothing has to excluded. We have not only agreed to consider these issues , but we have agreed on a sequence, a logical sequence in which they will be addressed.

Anybody who expects all these issues to be taken up and resolved in the first round is being unrealistic . We have agreed on a modus operandi which will bring success within our reach. So it has been a very promising beginning.

SOLHEIM

Thank you very much for your patience. You should understand because of time limit we could not entertain all questions today both Mr.Balasingham and Mr. Peiris will have future press conferences and more certainly a future press conferences together, so you will be able to put those questions in future. Thank you so much for being with us.

 


2nd Lead: Adds full text of the speech

‘We are optimistic’ – Balasingham

[TamilNet, Monday, 16 September 2002, 06:17 GMT]
Addressing the opening ceremony of the first round of formal talks between the Liberation Tigers and the Government of Sri Lanka in Thailand Monday, Mr. Anton Balasingham, the political advisor of the LTTE said “We are optimistic that the peace talks will succeed because Mr. Velupillai Pirapaharan, the leader of the LTTE and Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, have genuine will and firm determination to resolve the conflict through the process of dialogue.” 

Thailand talks
“As far as the Liberation Tigers are concerned I can assure you that we are seriously and sincerely committed to peace. We will strive our utmost to ensure the success of the negotiations,”

Mr. Balasingham who leads the LTTE delegation at the peace talks with the GOSL struck a note of caution against the efforts of Sinhala hardliners.

“We are well aware that there are powerful political forces in southern Sri Lanka who are irrationally opposed to peace and ethnic reconciliation. Nevertheless we are confident that the talks will progress successfully because of the fact that the principal parties to the conflict as well as the overwhelming majority people of the island want peace and peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he said addressing the opening ceremony Monday covered by more than 230 journalists.

LTTE delegation.
LTTE delegation

“The task of building of permanent peace and normalcy in the island and reaching a final settlement to the ethnic conflict may be difficult, challenging and time consuming. Nevertheless, we are confident that with the able assistance of the Norwegian facilitators there is a possibility the peace process to succeed,” Mr. Balasingham said.

He thanked the governments of Thailand and Norway for facilitating the peace effort.

“Permit me to express my sincere thanks to the government of Thailand on behalf of the Tamil people for offering her beautiful country for the historic peace making effort. We are happy and confident to engage in constructive peace dialogue in this serene environment.

“May I also express my sincere and congratulations to the government of Norway for its success in accomplishing the difficult task of success in bringing the principal protagonists, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government of Sri Lanka to the negotiating table,” Mr. Balasingham said.

“The Tamil people are grateful to the Norwegian peace envoys for their dedicated and persistent endeavor to bring an end to the armed hostilities and creating a congenial atmosphere for peace and normalcy in the island,” he said.

The following is the full text of Mr. Balasingham’s speach at the inaugural session of the peace talks in Sattahip naval base in Thailand, Monday 16 September, 2002.

MR. TEG BOONAG, HONOURABLE PERMANET SECRETARY TO THE FOREIGN MINISTRY OF THAILAND

MR. VIDAR HELGESON, HONOURABLE DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER OF NORWAY

YOUR EXCELLENCIES THE AMBASSADORS AND HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS

HONOURABLE MINISTERS OF SRI LANKA,

DISTINGUISHED DELEGATES,

MEMBERS OF THE NEWS MEDIA,

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

Please permit me to express my sincere thanks to the Government of Thailand on behalf of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, for offering your beautiful country as the venue for this historic peace-making event. We appreciate the gracious hospitality and wonderful conference arrangements provided here. We are happy and confident to engage in a constructive peace dialogue in this serene environment.

May I also express my sincere compliments and congratulations to the Government of Norway for its success in accomplishing the difficult task of bringing the principal protagonists – the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Government of Sri Lanka – to the negotiating table. The Tamil people are grateful to the Norwegian peace envoys for their dedicated and persistent endeavor to bring an end to the armed hostilities and for creating a congenial atmosphere of peace and normalcy in the island. The task of building a permanent peace and reaching a final settlement to the ethnic conflict may be difficult, challenging and time consuming. Nevertheless, we are confident that with the able assistance of the Norwegian facilitators there is a possibility for the peace process to succeed. We are optimistic that the peace talks will succeed because both Mr. Velupillai Pirapaharan, the leader of the Liberation Tigers, and Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, have a genuine will and a firm determination to resolve the conflict through the process of dialogue. As far as the Liberation Tigers are concerned, I can assure you that we are seriously and sincerely committed to peace and that we will strive our utmost to ensure the success of the negotiations. We are well aware that there are powerful political forces in southern Sri Lanka who are irrationally opposed to peace and ethnic reconciliation. Nevertheless, we are confident that the talks will progress successfully because of the fact that the principal parties in the conflict as well as the overwhelming majority of the people of the island want peace and peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Since we are required, at this inaugural function, to keep our statements brief, I do not wish to dwell in detail or in depth on the historical evolution of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The Tamil struggle for self-determination has a lengthy and complex history, the last two decades of which were characterised by a brutal and savage war. All previous attempts to seek a peaceful negotiated settlement to this intractable conflict ended in fiasco. Though the leadership of the LTTE had, on several occasions, opted for cessation of hostilities and peace talks, the previous government rejected our conciliatory gestures and intensified the conditions of war that caused heavy loss of life and monumental destruction of Tamil property. The intransigence of the previous government could only be attributed to its incredible military theory that war begets peace and political solutions can only be realised by military means. By practicing such an absurd notion the last government of Sri Lanka plunged the entire country into the abyss of social and economic disaster.

The situation has radically changed with the assumption to power of the new government with the overwhelming popular mandate for peace and negotiated political settlement. The new government reciprocated positively to the unilateral cease-fire declared by our liberation organisation at the end of last year. It was at that stage the Norwegian facilitators were able to intervene constructively and work out a comprehensive cease-fire agreement. A mutually agreed cease-fire agreement with international monitors from Nordic and Scandinavian countries came into effect in February this year.

The most encouraging aspect of the current situation is that the cease-fire has held for the last seven months, without any serious violations. In this context I wish to compliment the foreign representatives of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission for their dedication, commitment and impartiality in ensuring the smooth implementation of the truce agreement.

Peace and stability are being restored in the island for the first time after two decades of sustained and relentless war that has torn the country apart. This positive atmosphere of peace has brought a sense of relief, hope and confidence to all major communities living in the island: the Tamils, the Sinhalese and the Muslims. A firm foundation has been laid for peace negotiations between the principal parties in conflict.

Normalcy of civilian life is slowly and systematically returning to the northeast of Sri Lanka, the homeland of the Tamils and Muslims, the region that has faced the brunt of the armed conflict. The north has suffered the most horrendous impact of the war, where the entire civilian infrastructure has been destroyed, where thousands of civilians have lost their lives, where one million people are internally displaced. The economic embargo imposed on the Tamil people for the last one decade has had a devastating effect on their social and economic life. This economic strangulation subjected our people to extreme poverty and severe deprivation. There is an urgent need for relief and assistance to the war affected people. Immediate steps should be undertaken without delay, to embark on a comprehensive program of resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction. This monumental task cannot be undertaken without the help and assistance of the international community. The concerned international governments, who have been supporting a negotiated settlement to the Tamil national question, should contribute generously for the reconstruction of the war-damaged economy of the northeast. Improving the conditions of existence of the war affected people and effecting normalcy, congenial for their economic revival, has become a necessary and crucial element in advancing and consolidating the peace process.

Over and above the intricate questions of conflict resolution and power sharing, the people expect a peace dividend; they require immediate relief to resolve their urgent, existential problems. Therefore, the peace process cannot be undertaken in isolation without taking parallel steps towards the economic recovery of the suffering population. The leaders of the Sri Lanka government have expressed a desire to transform the island into a successful Tiger economy. We appreciate their aspiration. Such an aspiration can best be realised by embracing the Tamil Tigers as their equal partners in the task of economic reconstruction of the country. The LTTE is the legitimate and authentic representative of the Tamil people. We have lived, fought and suffered with and for our people throughout the turbulent times of the war. We have a comprehensive knowledge of the socio-economic needs confronting the Tamil people. We have built an effective administrative structure for more than ten years which has sustained the social cohesion and law and order. Therefore, it is crucial that the LTTE should play a leading and pivotal role in administration as well as the economic development of the Northeast.

The deepest aspiration of our people is peace, a peace with justice and freedom; a permanent peace in which our people enjoy their right to self-determination and co-exist with others. Peace, stability and ethnic harmony are the foundations upon which the economic prosperity of the island can be built. Let us strive, genuinely, with hope and confidence, to consolidate these foundations at this forum to bring a peaceful and prosperous life to all peoples in the island.

https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=7483


 Tigers demand ‘substantial autonomy,self government

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 September 2002, 17:56 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers said Wednesday that they are seeking “substantial autonomy and self government in the Tamil homeland and expressed optimism that a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict could be worked out by negotiation. Addressing a press conference in Sittahip, Thailand, after the first round of direct Norwegian facilitated talks with the Sri Lankan government, the Chief Negotiator of the LTTE, Mr. Anton Balasingham said the LTTE would only seek an independent state “as a last resort” if the Tamil demand for “regional autonomy is rejected and conditions of oppression continue.”

Responding to reporters’ questions as to whether the LTTE had given up fighting for a separate state, Mr. Balasingham said: “The LTTE doesn’t operate with the concept of a separate state. We operate with the concept of a homeland and self-determination.”

“Homeland doesn’t mean a separate state as such. It refers to a territory where the Tamil-speaking people live,” he pointed out.

Mr.Anton Balasingham.
LTTE’s chief negotiator Anton Balasingham speaks during a news conference at landmark Sri Lankan peace talks, in Pattaya, southeast of Bangkok, September 18, 2002.

“When we use the category or concept of self-determination, we mean that the concept entails substantial autonomy or self-government in our homeland or in the historical areas where we live,” he said. “And [we feel] that solutions can be worked out if both the parties agree to a particular political system or model.”

“But, if our demand for regional autonomy and self-government is rejected and if conditions of oppression continue, as a last resort our people have no option other than to fight for political independence and statehood,” he said. “That will be the last resort under the principle of self determination.”

“[Therefore] saying that the LTTE is fighting for an independent state has no relevance because we operate with different categories and concepts,” he added.

Asked by a correspondent if Mr. Balasingham’s comments gave him hope of resolving the ethnic conflict, Chief Negotiator of the Sri Lankan government, Mr. G. L. Peiris said: “Definitely. We know that [separation] is not their [Tigers’] objective. They have stated it categorically on this occasion: a separate state is not what their aspirations are about.”

“Their aspirations can be fulfilled within one country if we set about it in the proper way,” he said further.

Responding to a question as to whether the disarming of the LTTE was discussed at the 3-day talks, Mr. Balasingham said: “There is no question of disarmament at this early stage of the discussion. You know very well both parties- the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE have two standing armies and two navies and this is the first time a stable cease-fire has been established. The question of disarming and decommissioning the LTTE will not arise until we reach a permanent settlement that will satisfy the aspirations of Tamil people.”

Mr. Balasingham’s views were echoed later by Mr. Peiris who said “At the beginning of a negotiating process you don’t ask about disarmament. You have to achieve some progress with regard to substantive issues [first] and decommissioning of weapons or demilitarisation would come a later stage. That is how any realistic, pragmatic negotiation process would be handled.”

https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=7497


Progress made at Sri Lankan peace talks

Sri Lanka's constitutional affairs minister, GL Peiris, and chief negotiator of the Tamil Tigers, Anton Balasingham, shake hands

 

A historic peace conference today ended with Tamil Tiger rebels demanding only self-determination, not full independence, from Sri Lanka – the clearest sign yet that they are determined to negotiate an end to 19 years of civil war.The rebels are refusing to lay down their arms immediately but their statement was hailed by the Sri Lankan government at the end of an opening round of face-to-face peace talks, brokered by Norway and hosted at a naval base in Thailand.

It was the rebel group’s strongest declaration that they will settle for autonomy rather than outright nationhood to resolve their separatist struggle. The conflict has threatened to break up the island country and has killed more than 64,500 people since 1983.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE) chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, told reporters: “Saying that the LTTE is fighting for independence has no relevance.

Mr Balasingham said they will not lay down arms until a full peace agreement is struck, which is unlikely before next year. Nonetheless, Sri Lankan government’s chief negotiator, GL Peiris, who also addressed the media, welcomed Mr Balasingham’s comments.

“The government is certainly pleased about it,” he said. “[The Tamil Tigers’ aspirations] can be fulfilled within one country if we set about it in the proper way.”

Ending three days of talks, the two sides announced major progress and agreed to meet again in Thailand on October 31 to November 3, December 2 to 5 and January 6 to 9 for further talks.

However, Mr Balasingham said that “there is no question of [the Tamil Tigers disarming] at this early stage of discussions”.

He said the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government have standing armies and navies, and “the question of decommissioning or disarming will not arrive until we reach a permanent solution meeting the aspirations of Tamil people.”

Mr Peiris said he was not worried and understood the LTTE’s position. During the last three days the negotiators also discussed setting up an interim administration in the north and the east, where Tamils are in a majority. Overall, they are a minority in the country and complain of discrimination by the Sinhalese majority.

“We have not gone into details of the composition [of the interim administration] but we have prepared the ground for it,” Mr Peiris said.

Mr Balasingham denied that the interim administration was a first step toward a separate state. “There is nothing wrong in setting up an administrative structure. The LTTE must be given a pivotal role to play,” he said.

“You have to give space and opportunity for our fighters and cadres to run the administration in our own homeland. What’s wrong with that?”

A Norwegian statement said that the two sides have also agreed to set up a panel to resettle some 1.6 million people displaced by one of Asia’s longest-running conflicts and to work for a permanent peace.

The joint committee “will consist of senior representatives of both sides, including military personnel,” the statement said.

It said the two parties asked international donors for immediate funding for humanitarian work, particularly in dealing with the problems of land mines.

The three ministers in the Sri Lankan delegation are expected to leave Thailand today for the United States, where they will join the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on a mission to attract financial support to rebuild the war-battered country.

Mr Balasingham will return to his London home and then on to Sri Lanka in early October to consult with LTTE leader Vilupillai Prabhakaran, diplomats said.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/sep/18/srilanka


Sri Lanka peace talks and related events – Timeline

REPORT from Refugee Council
Published on 30 Apr 2003
Introduction
This brief document provides a timeline for the peace negotiations and related events and includes the decisions taken at the six sessions of the peace talks. The agreements, guidelines and some decisions of the sub-committees are included as annexes. The document, produced in response to information requests to the Sri Lanka Project, is intended for use by NGOs, refugee organisations and others as a reference paper on the key events in the peace process in Sri Lanka.ContextPresident Chandrika Kumaratunge invited Norway in January 2000 to become involved in negotiating a peace settlement between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The Norwegian government appointed parliamentarian Erik Solheim as a special peace advisor. But the role of Norway remained insignificant as fighting escalated in the north-east. The LTTE demanded the lifting of the ban on them in Sri Lanka and the removal of the economic blockade on the Tamil-dominated northeast region. The government insisted that the LTTE should lay down arms and give up the struggle for the establishment of a separate state in the north-east. The lack of consensus between the ruling People’s Alliance (PA) and the main opposition United National Party (UNP), continued to remain a major stumbling block in achieving peace.The PA government collapsed in June 2001, after its ally the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) joined the opposition. The United National Front (UNF) led by the UNP won the general elections in December 2001 and formed the government. The new government and LTTE took a series of measures to create a conducive climate for peace and signed a ceasefire agreement on February 2002.There have been positive developments and the involvement of the international community in ceasefire monitoring, and reconstruction have boosted the chance of peace. However, every month hundreds of ceasefire violations are reported. Since February 2002, there have been a number of killings and other human rights violations. Significantly, the government is reluctant to amend or repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which has facilitated human rights violations. In addition, political problems such as the rivalry between the UNF and PA and the antagonism between the government and the President also threaten to destabilise the peace process.

Internally displaced people returning to home areas find themselves in extremely difficult situations, without shelter, adequate food, medical, sanitary or educational facilities and are facing threats to physical security posed by landmines, conscription and military personnel on both sides. Many refugees are unable to return to their home areas because of the existence of military high security zones.

Many of decisions in relation to fundamental principles and practical measures have been made in the peace talks. Some agreements arising out of the negotiations and involving international agencies have also been signed. Despite the continuing violations and incidents that have threatened peace, negotiations have been amicable and unprecedented progress has been made in the peace talks.

Sri Lanka Peace Talks and related events – Timeline

10 January 2002 – Norwegian Deputy Foreign minister Vidar Helgeson and Special Advisor Erik Solheim arrived in Colombo to begin negotiations on a ceasefire agreement between the Sri Lanka government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

6 February 2002 – The Secretariat for Co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) was established in the Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s office in Colombo (See Annex I for SCOPP mandate).

15 February 2002 – Economic Reform minister Milinda Moragoda declared open the A-9 Vavuniya-Jaffna road, easing the difficulties faced by the people for the past 15 years in entering the Tamil-dominated northern Vanni region.

22 February 2002 – A ceasefire agreement was signed between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE (See Annex II). The agreement provided for an international ceasefire monitoring team named Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) composed of representatives from Nordic countries (See Annex III for Status of Mission Agreement of the SLMM). President Chandrika Kumaratunge severely criticized the agreement.

13 April 2002 – LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauf Hakeem signed an agreement in Kilinochchi.1

4 September 2002 – The ban on the LTTE in Sri Lanka under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was removed.2

16-18 SEPTEMBER 2002 – PEACE TALKS, FIRST SESSION – SATTAHIP NAVAL BASE, THAILAND

The two parties discussed the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, humanitarian challenges and further cooperation to improve economic development and normalization. LTTE Advisor Anton Balasingham declared that the Tigers were willing to settle for a political solution within a unified Sri Lanka, with substantial autonomy to the Tamil regions.

Decisions from first session:

1. The two priorities of the parties are (a) stepping up humanitarian mine action, and, (b) accelerating resettlement and rehabilitation of internally displaced people (IDP).

2. The parties agreed to appoint a Joint Committee on High Security Zones. A Joint Task Force for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Activities (JTF) will also be appointed to initially concentrate on removal of landmines and resettlement of IDPs.3

20 September 2002 – The establishment of a LTTE Peace Secretariat headed by Kumaran Pulidevan in Kilinochchi was announced.

28 September 2002 – The Sri Lankan government and the LTTE exchanged prisoners of war, at Omanthai in Vavuniya District.

1 October 2002 – Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s secretary Bradman Weerakoon, addressing the 53rd session of UNHCR’s Executive Committee, said that the first priority of the government will be resettlement of the IDPs, the second priority, receiving back refugees from India and the third, welcoming refugees displaced to other countries.4

15 October 2002 – The Sri Lankan Supreme Court rejected the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The United National Front (UNF) government initiated the Amendment, which would have granted immunity to MPs who vote in Parliament against their party, from losing their seat. The Amendment was also aimed at curtailing the power of the President to dissolve Parliament.

25 October 2002 – The Japanese Cabinet decided to appoint Yasushi Akashi, former Under-Secretary General of the UN, as representative to contribute towards peace-building, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Sri Lanka.5

30 October 2002 – The SCOPP announced that it is envisaged that there will be three rounds of peace negotiations. There may be several sessions in each round:

1. First Round: Stabilization Stage
2. Second Round: Transitional Stage
3. Third Round: Post-transitional Stage

31 OCTOBER-3 NOVEMBER 2002 – PEACE TALKS, SECOND SESSION -BANGKOK, THAILAND6

Decisions from second session:

1. Three Sub-Committees were appointed instead of the joint committees proposed in the previous session:

i. Sub-Committee on Political Issues (SPI) ii. Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN) iii. Sub-Committee on De-escalation and Normalization (SDN)

2. The Sub-Committee on Political Issues (SPI) will study models of devolution. It will be led by Constitutional Affairs minister GL Peiris and LTTE Advisor Anton Balasingham and include SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem.

3. An eight-member Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs in the North-East (SIHRN) is responsible for identifying needs, implementing agencies and allocation of funds for projects. SIHRN will be led by the head of the SCOPP, Bernard Goonetilleke and LTTE political wing leader SP Thamilchelvan (See Annex IV for SIHRN Guidelines for Selection of Projects).

4. The Sub-Committee on De-escalation and Normalization (SDN) will examine ways and means of ensuring resettlement, particularly looking at military high security zones (HSZ), return of private property and resumption of economic activity. This committee will be headed by Defence Secretary Austin Fernando and LTTE’s eastern commander Col. Karuna.

5. SLMC leader Hakeem and Col. Karuna will work to improve Muslim-Tamil relations in accordance with the agreement signed on 13 April 2002 by Mr Hakeem and LTTE leader V Prabhakaran.

6. Former chief executive of Amnesty International and currently vice president of the International Centre for Transnational Justice, Ian Martin, will participate in future sessions of the peace talks.

7. The government will examine the position of detainees under the PTA and consider releasing them.

8 November 2002 – A Japanese delegation led by special envoy Yasushi Akashi met LTTE political leader SP Thamilchelvan in Kilinochchi to discuss rehabilitation and reconstruction.

25 November 2002 – More than 100 representatives from 37 countries and international institutions participated in the Sri Lanka Aid Conference in Oslo. They expressed strong support for the peace process and committed themselves to providing immediate financial assistance.7 A notable absentee at the conference was India.

27 November 2002 – In his annual Great Heroes Day speech, LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran made the following announcements:

i. The LTTE would seriously consider a solution within a united Sri Lanka.

ii. The LTTE were prepared to consider favourably a political framework that offers substantial autonomy and self-government in the Tamil homeland, on the basis of the right to internal self-determination.

iii. If self-determination is denied and the demand for self-rule is rejected, the Tamil people will have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent state.

Notes:

1 The agreement mainly provides for the appointment of a joint committee to facilitate the return of 100,000 Muslims expelled by the LTTE from the Northern Province in October 1990. The LTTE also undertook to end extortion of Muslims in the east and return lands belonging to Muslims.

2 The LTTE was banned in Sri Lanka under Emergency regulations in January 1997. After Emergency lapsed in July 2000, the ban was imposed under the PTA.

3 The appointment of the JTF and the LTTE demand for the control of any interim administration in the north-east region were vehemently opposed by President Chandrika Kumaratunge.

4 There are an estimated 800,000 IDPs; 66,000 in camps in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and another 50,000 outside camps; and some 800,000 Sri Lankan asylum seekers in other countries.

5 Yasushi Akashi oversaw the UN transitional administration in Cambodia in the 1990s and currently heads the Japan Centre for Conflict Prevention.

6 In light of opposition from President Chandrika and her party, the People’s Alliance (PA), both parties decided not to appoint a JTF. The LTTE decided to refrain from insisting on the formation of an interim administration in the North-East Province under its control.

7 SIHRN submitted a paper to the donors titled, An appeal for immediate humanitarian and rehabilitation support in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Nearly $90 million was pledged for immediate rehabilitation projects (See Annex V for appeal by SIHRN).

(in pdf* format – 455 KB)

https://reliefweb.int/report/sri-lanka/sri-lanka-peace-talks-and-related-events-timeline


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Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.

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