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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

India's soft option not working in Sri Lanka -- ENDLF

Chennai, 06 January, (Asiantribune.com): G Gnanasekaran, President, Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF), has appealed to the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to intervene directly and immediately in the Sri Lankan crisis.
He argues that the Norweigna-brokered ceasefre agreement is now defunct and the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government are engaged in an undeclared war. This has caused hardships to the Tamils living in the north and the east.

He adds: "We are of the view that India’s soft options against the Sri Lankan Government have not worked and will not work. We are of the opinion that urging the Sri Lankan government to find a negotiated settlement and at the same time assuring that India will not interfere directly in the Sri Lankan crisis have not borne any results and will not be helpful in finding a solution.

"Instead, we request the Indian Government to actively involve in finding a reasonable solution without further delay. India, in our view, should directly involve as it did in 1987 under the leadership of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and previously during the time of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi," said.

Here is the full text of his letter:

To,

Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Honorable Prime Minister of India,
New Delhi – 110 011.

5 January 2007

India should directly intervene in the Sri Lankan crisis

As a democratic political party of the Sri Lankan Tamils, the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) would like to draw your urgent attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in North East Sri Lanka and to seek India’s immediate direct intervention to bring about an early settlement of the Sri Lankan crisis. We fear, the unfolding calamity in North East Sri Lanka, if not addressed immediately, will have disastrous consequences not just for the Sri Lankan Tamils but for India and the entire South Asian region too.

North East Sri Lanka situation

We wish to state here briefly the recent tragic developments in North East Sri Lanka, the traditional homeland of the Tamils.

The ceasefire agreement negotiated by Norway in 2002 is now defunct and the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the LTTE cadres are engaged in an undeclared war. India and the international community repeatedly urged the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to resume peace talks but both sides have refused to heed these calls and have shown callous disregard for the safety of the innocent civilians.

North East Sri Lanka is now a virtual war zone and a scene of untold humanitarian sufferings. Over 600,000 Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka are living in an open prison. Land-based entry to Jaffna has been cut off since August 2006 with the closure of the main highway, the arterial A-9 Road and the people in Jaffna are faced with near starvation. Shortage of basic food, fuel and medicines and other essential commodities have driven a proud Jaffna Tamil society to desperation. In the Eastern Trincomalee district, the Tamil areas of the town and almost all the Tamil villages are deserted. Thousands of Trincomalee Tamils have fled the district either to the neigbouring Batticaloa district or to India. A majority of the 16,000 Tamil refugees who arrived in India recently are from the Trincomalee district. 70,000 Tamils from the Trincomalee district and from the LTTE-controlled Vaharai area in Batticaloa district are now sheltered in government controlled areas in the Batticaloa district as internally displaced people.

They are sheltered in schools and temporary shelters or live with relatives. Batticaloa has become a refugee town and only the presence of the NGOs ensures their food safety. More and more refugees, driven out by indiscriminate artillery and aerial bombings carried out by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces are daily flowing into government controlled areas in Batticaloa.

Assassinations, abductions and bombings, including indiscriminate artillery and aerial bombings by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and Para-military groups aligned to them have taken a heavy toll of the civilian population. Conservative estimates put the death of civilians since August 2006 at 6000. Two decades of conflict has resulted in the death of over 70,000.

Alarmingly, the Sri Lankan Government has introduced into this theatre of conflict forces that are detrimental to India’s security. Various media reports speak of Pakistani Intelligence Service involvement in the training of Sri Lankan Armed Forces and, more dangerously, in the training of Muslim Jihadist groups in Eastern Sri Lanka. Pakistan has also stepped up military assistance to Sri Lanka. “Hindu” report dated 30 December 2006 speak of Sri Lanka importing US$ 200 million worth of armaments which, we are afraid, will be used by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces against innocent Tamil civilian population as they have done in the immediate past.

Sri Lankan Government is targeting Tamils

Sri Lankan Government is telling the world, a world pre-occupied with terrorism in the aftermath of Nine-Eleven, that it is waging a war against “terrorism” and that LTTE is a deadly terrorist group. This is only a smoke screen to hide its real intention. President Mahinda Rajapakse’s Government is, in truth, skillfully implementing a grand plan to finish “once and for all” the reasonable demands of the Tamils for equal rights and for autonomy.

We, of the ENDLF, suffered in the hands of the LTTE and many of our cadres were mercilessly killed by the LTTE. We do not hold a brief for the LTTE or sympathise with them. We also feel that LTTE leaders responsible for the killing of the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi should be punished. We were always prepared to cooperate with the Sri Lankan Government in finding a reasonable solution to the Tamil problem. But, we cannot allow the Sri Lankan Government to systematically decimate the Tamil population and to drive the Tamils from their traditional homeland of North East.

We can cite here many recent actions of the Sri Lankan Government and its Armed Forces which deliberately targeted innocent Tamils. Last year’s aerial bombing of Puthukudiruppu school children, killing of 17 Tamil NGO workers in Mutur and several other Tamil politicians, scorched earth policy in Trincomalee district which resulted in the displacement of virtually the whole of the Tamil population there, virtual blockade of Jaffna denying a population of over 600,000 Tamils their basic necessities and freedom of movement, continued artillery and aerial bombings carried by the Sri Lankan Air Forces with the help of mercenary pilots, re-introduction of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, economically targeting the Tamils with the abductions of several hundred Tamil businessmen from Colombo and North East with the help of Karuna Group etc. are some recent events which bear testimony to Sri Lankan Government’s grand plan to destroy the identity of the Tamils.

The worst blow came recently with President Rajapakse’s decision to de-merge the unified North East, the unification of which was brought by the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi under the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord he signed in 1987. It is aimed at destroying the unity of the Tamils and territorial integrity of the traditional Tamil homeland. The unification stood for twenty years and was not interfered by the successive Sri Lankan administrations that came to power since 1987. The plot to de-merge was part of the grand plan of President Rajapakse which he designed with his electoral partners the JVP and JHU, two of Sri Lanka’s most virulent Sinhala racist parties, and whose representatives got the Sri Lankan Supreme Court to declare the merger illegal and unconstitutional. We, have in a recent statement condemning President Rajapakse’s action, stated that the de-merger is a slap in the face of India and an insult to the memory of the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Our request to India

We believe that India’s declared policy of not interfering directly in the Sri Lankan crisis is skillfully utilized by President Rajapakse to carry out his war designs and to decimate the Tamil population under the guise of waging war against the terrorist LTTE. He has paid scant attention to India’s request to solve the Tamil problem through negotiations. His all party conference and all party deliberations to obtain the Southern consensus are just to bluff India and the international community. This was amply demonstrated when his government openly dissociated with the innocuous “Majority Experts Panel Report” which, at least, symbolically called for devolution of power to the Tamils.

President Rajapakse may still continue to assure India and the international community that he would continue with his effort to find a Southern consensus and may even come with some kind of dodgy agreement to show his sincerity. Through this exercise he is only buying time in order to strengthen his military machine to wage a final onslaught against the Tamils.

We do not believe that the Sinhla politicians will come up with a solution of their own that gives meaningful autonomy to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. The history of Sinhala politics bears ample testimony to this. The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact, and the various other subsequent agreements Sinhala politicians and Sinhala governments signed with representatives of Tamils have all been abrogated. Even the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, which President Jayawardene signed with the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and which was accepted by our party as a stepping stone to eventual autonomy of the Tamils, is now finally buried with President Mahinda Rajapakse’s action to de-merge North East.

We are of the view that India’s soft options against the Sri Lankan Government have not worked and will not work. We are of the opinion that urging the Sri Lankan government to find a negotiated settlement and at the same time assuring that India will not interfere directly in the Sri Lankan crisis have not borne any results and will not be helpful in finding a solution.

Instead, we request the Indian Government to actively involve in finding a reasonable solution without further delay. India, in our view, should directly involve as it did in 1987 under the leadership of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and previously during the time of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

It is true that when India did directly intervene in 1987, Indian Peace Keeping Force had to suffer heavy casualties in its fight against the LTTE and had to withdraw when requested to do so by President Premadasa. We, as one of the two democratic Tamil political parties elected to power in the then North East provincial administration, extended our fullest cooperation to IPKF and suffered ourselves with many of our cadres killed by the LTTE. Later the murderous LTTE even assassinated our beloved late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

However, we believe, these setbacks should not deter India from actively involving itself again in the Sri Lankan crisis because, in our opinion, the consequences of not interfering directly will be calamitous to the Sri Lankan Tamils and to India’s security interests.

We would not suggest here what steps India should now take to directly intervene in the Tamil crisis but we wish to stop by saying that India, being a regional power and a power to be reckoned with in the current world power equations, will be able to force a solution on the Sri Lanka Government and the LTTE that would not be objected to by the international community. We only add that directly interfering in a humanitarian crisis and in a crisis that threatens not only international peace and security but India’s peace and security, should be India’s legitimate right under the international law.

Thanks

Yours sincerely

G Gnanasekaran
President, Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front

Copy to :

Shri. L.K.Athvani (opposition leader)

Smt. Sonia Gandhi (President, Indian National Congress)

Shri. Dr.M.Karunanithi (Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu)

Shri. M.K. Narayanan (National Security Adviser)

Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Former Prime Minister)

Shri. A.K.Antony (Defense Minister)

Shri. Pranab Mukherjee

- Asian Tribune -

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