Hon. R. Wickremesinghe,
Reference your letter to your friends on the anniversary of the ceasefire agreement, you have asked your friends to trust you as you create a free, fair and equal society. You claim that you have a programme titled Regaining Sri Lanka and that you are in the process of sowing the seeds presumably for a prosperous nation.
Your stated aims are what every Sri Lankan wants. However, the sad truth is that since you started the ceasefire with a flawed memorandum of agreement, the LTTE has gained every demand made from your government in their consolidation of Eelam. Far from regaining Sri Lanka you have eroded the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and just this week Mr. L. Kadirgamar has confirmed this fact.
Prior to February 2002, the LTTE had control of the Vanni but were designated a terrorist organization by the international community because of the efforts of the previous government and Mr. Kadirgamar in particular. Their goal was to get recognition of their de facto state by the international community and the label terrorist removed in other words Eelam. You and their chief negotiators, Balasingham and Solheim have systematically built up a false aura of respectability for known terrorists who have not given up terrorism and still consider it a means to get their separate state. Far from regaining Sri Lanka, you are giving Sri Lanka away to the LTTE terrorists. Anyone hearing the mumbo jumbo from G.L. Peiris before and after his photo opportunities with Balasingham and the Norwegians can not have any doubt as to your governments policy of appeasement and surrender to the LTTE.
Regarding your concept of one nation, I do not have to tell you that anyone travelling to Jaffna on the A9 road has to complete Tamil only forms, pay entrance fees, customs duty levied by the Customs Unit-Finance Division payable to the Bank of Tamil Eelam. Even in Jaffna, which is supposedly under government control, the members of the LTTE wander freely collecting 10% from shopkeepers and other establishments. What does your government collect? You say your goal is to create one nation yet even today the LTTE collect taxes, murder political opponents with impunity and are forcing you to remove the security forces from the north and east. I would like to remind you that when 30,000 Sri Lankan security forces in Jaffna were threatened by the LTTE, NO country was willing to help Sri Lanka. I would also remind you that it was during a previous UNP government and peace negotiations that 600 policemen were asked to surrender to the LTTE and were then executed. Todate you have not let the country know what your LTTE partners did with the bodies of these policemen. Are you laying the foundations for this type of future atrocity by removing the high security zones and giving the LTTE control of a section of the Sri Lanka's territorial waters?
Just last week when the LTTE met with the Japanese envoy, they handed him a golden version of their map of Eelam. Do you still believe that they are working with you to regain Sri Lanka or are you working with them to give Sri Lanka away? All news reports of your concessions to the LTTE confirm that you are not "regaining" anything, merely giving away almost everything.
All these concessions to the LTTE are being made to entice them to donor meetings. Why has there been no mention of the over five billion U.S. dollars in the coffers of the LTTE which they can use immediately to better the lives of the Tamil people? Why must the government of Sri Lanka repay all the loans when today in Jaffna and the east the people are paying taxes only to the LTTE? If it is indeed one nation that you are creating why are you allowing tax collection, child conscription, arms smuggling, kangaroo courts (the list goes on) and turning a blind eye to the murder of members of Tamil political parties and the security forces?
You talk about taking a fallow field and preparing it for a crop. I hope the crop you are preparing is not the murder of thousands of security personnel in the north and east when the LTTE revert to what they know best, namely murder and terror. I also hope that the crop is not going to be Eelam in the north and east and a JVP regime in the rest of the country.
I. de Silva
Below is a copy of your letter for the benefit of your friends on the copy list who did not receive it.
It is now over a year since the fighting stopped in our twenty-year war. That should be a cause for celebration as many lives have been saved in the process. I think it important to stress that as yet we do not have peace; nevertheless we have a ceasefire which is giving the parties time to talk and try to resolve their differences.
I won't go into the reasons behind the conflict, but I would say that it is the aim of this Government to create a free, fair and equal society where everyone, whatever their religion or ethnicity, can live in peace and prosperity. I should also stress that it is our clear position within the negotiations that we wish to create one nation from what is at present; a divided country. The LTTE understand that and so do most people. However, some people are suggesting otherwise, I hope that if you hear any suggestions to the contrary that you correct them immediately. Nevertheless, we have many challenges along the way. I do not anticipate that peace will come quickly. We have much work to do, to rebuild trust between the two sides in the conflict. That is what we have spent much of our time doing over the past year. Whilst I acknowledge that the Ceasefire Agreement was not a perfect document, it has given us the opportunity to stop the killings and to talk. Had we aimed for a perfect document it could have taken months, even years. Whereas what we have is a working document that starts the process of building understanding on both sides, whilst obliging both sides to do certain trust-building measures.
There have been infringements of the ceasefire agreement and that is a cause for concern. What we need to do and are doing, is to tackle each of those infringements in the peace negotiations and to find ways of resolving those problems. Questions such as child conscription and extortion have to be dealt with; and in the recent talks, the LTTE gave an undertaking to deal with these matters with the help of UNICEF.
We have spent much time talking about rebuilding our country after the war. In the North and the East we have a shattered economy. We have to resettle nearly one million people, rebuild their homes, remove the mines, and provide schools and hospitals for the people once more. Nor do we intend to neglect the South where poverty is a very serious issue. In the South, we also have to build the infrastructure and create business opportunities. The economy is closely tied into the peace process. For without peace we cannot rebuild our economy; and without a strong economy, peace will take longer to achieve. That is why we have embarked on a programme called "Regaining Sri Lanka" which will put in place the mechanisms to create a strong and prosperous country for the future.
I am sure that you, along with many other people, are impatient and want to see improvements happen quickly. However, if we are to build a lasting peace and a prosperous nation we have to plan carefully. The last year has been one of taking a fallow field and preparing it for the crop. Today we are in the process of sowing the seeds, and in the next year or so I am hopeful that you start to see some of the benefits.
There is much that I would like to tell you about, but this short letter does not allow that luxury. I am sure that you also have many questions. If you would like to know more about the peace process then please contact the Peace Secretariat (see below for contact details) and they will try to answer your questions. Meanwhile, please be assured that your government is working hard on your behalf to create a peaceful and prosperous country once more.
BACK TO LATEST NEWS
Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.