Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat pooh-poohs Anton Balasingham as an adventurist and immature Chief Negotiator (Sri Lanka)


Civilian populated areas in the North and the East exposing Tamil civilians to extreme danger both in the face of the claymore mine and grenade explosions as well as in any cross-fire between the security forces and the LTTE operatives in the vicinity.


(08.05.2006)

Colombo, 09 May, (Asiantribune.com): The Sri Lankan Government Peace Secretariat has dismissed the threat by Anton Balasingham to attack Karuna Group in Government-controlled areas, as "adventurist and not in keeping with the maturity expected from the Chief Negotiator of the LTTE."

Rebutting the charges of Anton Balasingham who told Reuters that the Government has refused to disarm the Karuna Group in the Government-controlled areas, the Peace Secretariat reaffirmed the Government's commitment "to taking all necessary measures in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement to ensure that no armed group or person other than Government security forces will carry arms or conduct armed operations."

"On the contrary," says the Peace Secretariat, "it is the LTTE which has and continues to flagrantly violate the commitment it made at the Geneva Talks to taking all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no acts of violence against the security forces and police."

"The Peace Secretariat points out that 'during the period 24th February to 30th April, the LTTE killed 19 Navy personnel, 36 Army soldiers, 6 Policemen, 4 Air force personnel, and not to mention the outrageous suicide attack on the Army Commander which many analysts have labeled as an act of war' ."

Here is the full text of the statement issued by the Peace Secretariat:

In an email interview to Reuters ' Exclusive ' Sri Lanka rebels vow to neutralise renegades' released on 8th May, Anton Balsingham is stated to have said the following:

1. "The government's refusal to rein in armed groups as pledged at (talks in) Geneva has been the primary cause of intensified violence and the stalemate in the peace talks: and

2. "Since the Government has outrightly denied the very existence of Karuna group in government controlled areas and refused to disarm them, the LTTE has no choice other than to take the responsibility on itself and neutralize Karuna's armed men".

As regards (1), the observation by LTTE's Chief Negotiator is clearly misleading. One of the Agreements reached at Geneva does stipulate that "the GoSL is committed to taking all necessary measures in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement to ensure that no armed group or person other than Government security forces will carry arms or conduct armed operations". At no time has the GoSL refused to fulfill its commitments as stated above. In fact, the Government stands firmly committed to it. However, it is axiomatic that the GoSLs capacity to take "all necessary measures" does not extend to areas not under its control, particularly in the Eastern Province with hazy and porous defence lines of control. As Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions noted in his recently released report, "it is far from clear that the Government would be capable of disarming the Karuna group, and any future attempt at a comprehensive revised agreement would have to address the realities created by the Karuna group".

Secondly, the argument that the "primary cause of intensified violence and the stalemate in the peace talks" is the alleged "refusal" of the GoSL to "rein in armed groups" is untenable and unacceptable. On the contrary, it is the LTTE which has and continues to flagrantly violate the commitment it made at the Geneva Talks " to taking all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no acts of violence against the security forces and police." It may be noted that during the period 24th February to 30th April, the LTTE killed 19 Navy personnel, 36 Army soldiers, 6 Policemen, 4 Air force personnel, and not to mention the outrageous suicide attack on the Army Commander which many analysts have labeled as an "act of war".

Further, acts of violence taken by the LTTE against the security forces have largely focused on civilian populated areas in the North and the East thereby exposing Tamil civilians to extreme danger both in the face of the claymore mine and grenade explosions as well as in any cross-fire between the security forces and the LTTE operatives in the vicinity. In addition, the LTTE has continued with its acts of abductions and killings, including child conscription, in an endless violation of the ceasefire agreement from the time it was signed.

As regards the second substantive matter raised in the Reuters interview, the threat by Anton Balasingham that the LTTE would launch attacks on the Karuna forces even in Government-controlled areas, is adventurist and not in keeping with the maturity expected from the Chief Negotiator of the LTTE. Needless to say, the question of attacking armed Karuna forces in Government-controlled areas does not arise since there are no armed Karuna forces in those areas. If Anton Balasingham is referring to the political office opened in Batticaloa by the TMVP, which it claims is affiliated to the Karuna Group, any attack on it or on any other political offices of political parties would be deemed as a clear violation of the CFA as well as a law and order problem and appropriate actions would be taken. As Special Rapporteur Philip Alston noted "reflex references to 'paramilitaries' rather than `political parties' dangerously distort facts. As long as these groups continue to be targeted, they will require protection from the military, which is facilitated by locating their residences and political offices near military posts. This protection unavoidably results in the appearance of cooperation with the military, but this cannot be generally assumed."

Any incursion into Government-controlled areas by armed LTTE groups or any spill-over of armed hostilities between the LTTE and the Karuna forces into Government-controlled areas will be a violation of the ceasefire agreement (CFA).

Mr. Anton Balasingham must necessarily accept that the escalation of military engagements as well as increasing civilian killings is not a matter that can be resolved only by one party to the conflict and negotiations. It is imperative that it is through negotiations that the cycle of violence, which is spiraling dangerously out of control, could be brought to a halt. The burden clearly lies with the LTTE to respond positively to the maximum flexibility demonstrated by the Government in relation to the transportation issue and to agree on an early date for the next round of talks in Geneva.

Von: 9.5.2006 www.asiantribune.com

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