|Tuesday, 7 October 2003|
"Nothing to fear from counter-proposals"
by Frances Bulathsinghala in Killinochchi
Prior to his departure on Thursday to Ireland (2) to present the final draft proposal on the Interim Administration to the Tamil intellectuals and academics before it is handed over to the Government, the LTTE's political head, S. Thamilchelvam last Wednesday in an exclusive interview claimed that he was confident that the Southern Sinhalese would not find any offence in the proposal which is expected to be the panacea for the twenty year old ills that the country has seen by way of separatism and war.
Although details of the proposals are not revealed formally it is understood that the main clauses of the proposals to be the retaining of the LTTE military and its police as a parallel military force and the recognition of the LTTE flag.
Answering the much asked question on Tamil Eeelam, the LTTE political head describes the terminology as one that is sacred to the Tamils and adds that the term is a hackneyed word in the South and accuses anti peace elements of scaring the people with the word.
"Global examples have shown successful power sharing. What we mean by Elaam is self respect of Tamils and the right for them to live in their homeland. We have last month in our meeting in Paris with international leaders and local LTTE leaders to discuss the formation of the initial clauses of the proposals made it clear that what we need is not only the integrity of the Tamils but also the Muslims, he explains.
Q. The LTTE leader in his press conference last year and Dr. Anton Balasingham in his international statements have said that Muslims would get the necessary security to resettle in their lands which they were made to leave by the LTTE in 1990. However from the date of the LTTE leaders media briefing last April to now there have been major incidents involving the Muslims which have resulted in clashes. Could you specify how exactly you propose to see that the Sinhalese and the Muslims in the North East too get the right to their homeland ?
A. We are committed to see that there is a final political settlement to a problem which has dragged on for twenty years. That is why we are making it a point to consult all our international leaders with regard to the proposals which we want to be agreeable to all.
We have always meant what we said about eradicating mistakes of the past and assuring the rights of the Muslims in the East. However it has to be understood that stability after twenty years of war cannot be established in one night. It is the commitment for peace on both sides which could achieve this, in a larger framework. We have proved our statements with regard to the Muslims by giving back their land in the eastern districts.
Q. There has been the question asked by the common man as to why the LTTE has to spend exorbitant moneys for international travel when it could meet its leaders here. Could you specify the need for having meetings in Europe.
A. We have analysed the financial aspect and because it is cheaper to meet all our international leaders abroad we have ventured to go to them rather than get them down here. We have spent a large number of money on war and we do not see why we should not spend even a larger amount of money for peace. Why we need to have our discussions abroad is also because we are drawing in new academics and experts in various fields, especially in the area of economics.
Q. Who funds your foreign trips ?
A. Norway and other international organizations.
The LTTE Political head meanwhile specified the role of the Tamil politicians in the event of the Interim Administration being handed over to the LTTE, by stating that they have kept the members of the Tamil National Alliance informed and consulted them on significant matters relating to power sharing and that their role in the future of the North East would be important.
With regard to the question of the resumption of peace talks the LTTE stance was conveyed by its political head to be that of not being in a rush but being agreeable to commence the talks as soon as the Government finds its proposals agreeable.
Q. Has the LTTE laid any time frame for a resumption of peace talks?
A. No. We cannot resume discussions with the Government unless both parties come to a formal agreement. We understand that this cannot done as soon as we like.
The LTTE would have the resilience and patience to approach a lasting solution without embarking hastily on something that would not look at the core needs of the Tamil people.
Produced by Lake House