During the Ceasefire
We welcome the ceasefire commencing 25.12.2001 between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE, in order to bring an end to the war caused by the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.
People of all ethnic communities are yearning that both parties should continue to extend this ceasefire and hold talks in a responsible manner and with mutual understanding in order to bring a lasting solution to the ethnic problem.
But the LTTE which declared that it was going to cease hostilities from the midnight of 24th December 2001, has committed over 20 human rights violations since the date of its declaration. These violations include murders, abductions, extortions and attacks. But to date, nobody has either expressed concern or criticised the LTTE.
In the Batticaloa District, the LTTE has rounded up certain villages and has forcibly taken away a number of children for arms training. The LTTE has also burnt over 30 houses in the uncleared areas that were vacated by Tamil families who fled in order to safeguard their young children from being taken away by the LTTE.
The LTTE has even taken letters of consent from parents to the effect that they would hand over their children who are now below eight years, when they reach the age for arms training.
In the Jaffna District, the LTTE has started imposing taxes on all commodities. Because of this taxation, the prices of all essential items have increased by at least 15% in Jaffna.
All these incidents show that despite the ceasefire, the LTTE is threatening normality and the lives of the ordinary people living in the North and East.
When we look back at our past experiences, the Tamil and Muslim people and those who are democratic-minded have welcomed the prospects of ceasefires and peace talks. At the same time, they have been anxious about the terrible experiences that have taken place during those ceasefires and immediately following their breakdown.
In particular, it is undeniable that the LTTE has made use of the situations resulting from ceasefires to intimidate, imprison and kill those who dissent from the LTTE or disagree with its political views.
The reason for such killings is that the ceasefires declared so far have been viewed as those between the armed forces and the LTTE. They have not affected the behaviour of the armed forces towards the Tamil and Muslim people in the Northeast, or the behaviour of the LTTE towards the Tamil and Muslim people living in the Northeast. None of the previous ceasefires have included any clause to safeguard the democratic rights of the ordinary Tamil and Muslim people living in the Northeast and the rights of those who do not wish to live under the rule o the LTTE.
It is due to this reason that the LTTE was able to make use of this period to kill ordinary Tamils and Muslims, or violate their human rights without any hindrance. The Governments, which agreed to ceasefires with LTTE in the past, not only ignored these killings and other violations by the LTTE, but also did nothing to protect these people from the threat of the LTTE, nor take any action to inquire into those killings and punish those who have committed them.
On 21st September 1989 Dr. Rajani Thiranagama was killed in Jaffna.
During the ceasefire period between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE from 1989 to June 1990, the LTTE had killed hundreds of Tamils in the Eastern Province for their connections with the non-LTTE groups and also those whom they considered as their opponents. Independent Human Rights groups have documented details of those killed.
When the IPKF started withdrawing from the North and East, the LTTE went in to those areas and arrested hundreds of Tamils whom they thought, had acted against them. These incidents had taken place in Amparai, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya Mullaitivu, Mannar, Killinochchi and Jaffna Districts.
LTTE even checked the trains and other modes of transport, which came from Jaffna, Batticaloa and Trincomalee and abducted those Tamils on whom they had suspicion. Their whereabouts are not known to date.
Even in Colombo, with the help of the Government Forces, the LTTE arrested those whom they thought were their opponents, took them away, chained in state-owned and privately-owned buses plying between Colombo and Jaffna, and forced them out of the buses at Omantai and Murikandy in the Vanni. The fate that befell them is not known even to date.
And it was during a ceasefire, that the LTTE killed TULF leaders A.Amirthalingam and V.Yogeswaran, and seriously injured M.Sivasithamparam. They also killed Member of Parliament Sam Tambimuttu and his wife, outside the Canadian High Commission in Colombo.
Minister Gamini Dissanayake was killed during the period of exchange of letters relating to a ceasefire with the Government.
The NGOs and the INGOs who have been committed to peace in Sri Lanka and have worked to promote democracy and human rights in the country must pay particular attention to the violations of human rights that continue to take place during ceasefires.
While we agree that all necessary steps should be taken to continue this ceasefire between the Government and the LTTE, we request the government of Sri Lanka and those countries which are paying attention to the ceasefire and political developments in Sri Lanka to ensure that the LTTE does not violate the human rights of the ordinary Tamils and Muslims and those who express views not to the liking of the LTTE.
We urge the Government of Norway that has been engaged in facilitating the talks to pay particular attention to this matter and take necessary action.
We call upon the Government of India, which has always shown a genuine interest and concern for the Tamil speaking people of Sri Lanka, to guide and encourage the Governments of Norway and Sri Lanka in this regard.
The Governments of the USA, UK, Canada and Australia which had banned the LTTE in their own countries and are pushing for the success of the talks between the Government and the LTTE, should maintain their pressure on the LTTE not to violate the rights of the other Tamils and Muslims.
We call upon all the democratically elected Members of the Parliament of Sri Lanka to take up as their duty the protection of the democratic forces within the Tamil and Muslim community and pressure the government to act appropriately in this regard.
Because representatives elected by the Tamil and Muslim people have often been killed in the past, we ask all Members of Parliament to pay attention to this concern. In particular, we draw attention to the constant threat to their lives faced by the fifteen members of the Tamil National Alliance and other Tamil and Muslim Members of Parliament from the Northeast.
As the government and the Tigers are taking preparatory steps to workout a long-term ceasefire agreement and begin peace talks we would stress that particular attention be paid to the above concerns.
The right to life, and other fundamental rights and freedoms are inherent in all human beings. These rights cannot be taken away by governments or any groups to fulfill their own agendas.
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