Mr. Richard L. Armitage Deputy Secretary of State State Department Washington USA.
Renunciation of Violence, Terrorism and Separation by LTTE
To begin with we wish to thank you for your declaration at the Donors conference in Oslo, Norway that your government stands ready to play its part towards implementing the peace agreement between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam. We also wish to acknowledge with gratitude the financial assistance provided by the US for basic development, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka. We are also thankful to the US for the humanitarian help given in clearing mines and unexploded ordnance from more than 120,000 square meters of land in the Jaffna peninsula.
However, we regret we cannot agree with your statement We urge the LTTE to go one step further and add to this commitment a public renunciation of terrorism and of violence to make it clear to the people of Sri Lanka and indeed to the international community that the LTTE has abandoned its armed struggle for a separate state; and instead accepts the sovereignty of a Sri Lankan government that respects and protects he rights of all its people. In turn, the LTTE should affirm the fundamental human rights of all Sri Lankans not just the right to life but to free speech to participate in governance to associate freely and to enjoy the full protection of the rule of law.
In making this statement you merely repeated what US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mr. Ashley Wills told a press conference in Colombo two days earlier. Asked what the U.S. was looking for as indications of a "lasting peace", Mr. Wills told a press conference that the LTTE would have to, among other things, publicly renounce violence and terror and "dispense, once and for all, with the idea of a separate Tamil Eelam". Moreover, emphasising the need to ensure plurality, he said another important marker was to ensure that "Sri Lanka and all its component parts are plural". (The Hindu-November 24,2002)
It is unfortunate that the US government is viewing the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE as terrorism and violence. It is the failure of the Sri Lankan state to uphold fundamental rights plurality and rule of law that are at the roots of the ethnic conflict. The genesis of the conflict will bear ample testimony that it is the Sri Lankan government that used its armed forces as an instrument of terror to oppress the Thamil people. Rightly your appeal , Sir, should have been addressed to the Sri Lankan government, especially President Chandrika Kumaratunga who promises to derail the peace process, and not the Thamils who are the victims of state terrorism.
40,000 strong Sinhala army is still in
occupation of 35% of the land mass in the Jaffna peninsula. There is one soldier for every
15 people and therefore Jaffna peninsula
still remains an open prison. Almost
a million people are awaiting resettlement in the Northeast. In the Jaffna peninsula alone more than 70,000 are
awaiting resettlement because their houses
have been occupied by the armed forces.
A 40,000 strong Sinhala army is still in occupation of 35% of the land mass in the Jaffna peninsula. There is one soldier for every 15 people and therefore Jaffna peninsula still remains an open prison. Almost a million people are awaiting resettlement in the Northeast. In the Jaffna peninsula alone more than 70,000 are awaiting resettlement because their houses have been occupied by the armed forces.
You also made the observation Only a few months ago, I had an opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka and while I was there, I went to visit the Jaffna Peninsula. We first flew over the area in a helicopter, and saw below us a blasted landscape pockmarked like some sad moonscape with thousands of bomb craters, the testament in territory to twenty years of devastating war. But we also witnessed the costs up close. We saw a city destroyed; and a front line, with soldiers on either side standing close enough to see each other's faces.
Sadly the US contribution to this destruction and devastation is by no means minor. US bears responsibility for extending moral, political and diplomatic support to the Sri Lankan government in its mindless war in the Northeast. It supplied arms and ammunition and provided advanced military training to the Sinhala armed forces to cause this destruction and devastation.
We look to the US as the remaining only superpower to uphold the scales of justice evenly between both parties to the conflict. Labeling LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization and overlooking the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state will hardly help to resolve the conflict peacefully.
Finally as the principal deputy, adviser, and alter ego to the Secretary of State in formulating and conducting U.S. foreign policy, we hope you will act fairly and justly towards achieving durable peace in Sri Lanka.
(Tel. 416 281 5846; 416 281 1165; 416 447 6314)