A dastardly act
The killing of seven soldiers in a
landmine explosion in Jaffna has sent shockwaves around the country and
even around the world. It is apparent that the LTTE has carried out this
dastardly attack with scant regard to the Ceasefire Agreement.
Apart from the cold-blooded assassination of former Foreign Minister
Lakshman Kadirgamar, this is the biggest violation of the ceasefire by
the LTTE. As a Government Communique has stressed, such acts by the LTTE
demonstrate a lack of sincerity towards negotiations and a political
The LTTE is testing the patience of the Security Forces and trying to
provoke them into retaliatory measures. The Security Forces are aware of
these LTTE tactics. Prudence and restraint are vital at this critical
The harsh reality is that the LTTE has violated the February 2002
ceasefire with impunity. It has killed military informants, intelligence
operatives, political opponents and civilians and engaged in the
recruitment of children in spite of their avowed commitment to the
ceasefire. It virtually disenfranchised nearly half a million of voters
at the recent Presidential Poll.
All these point to the inevitable conclusion that the LTTE has not
given up its terrorist ways. The international community has observed
the LTTE's despicable behaviour. As we reported yesterday, Amnesty
International (AI) Director Irene Zubaida Khan has urged LTTE's
political wing head S.P. Thamilselvan to put an end to LTTE inspired
political violence and uphold human rights. She also expressed her
concerns over recruitment and training of underage youth in the outfit.
Apart from Amnesty, the European Union, the United States and
Australia have taken action against the LTTE without merely confining
themselves to words of condemnation. The international community must
now prevail upon the LTTE to respect the ceasefire agreement and take
steps towards peace talks.
The latest incident exemplifies the need for revising and
strengthening the ceasefire and giving more powers to the monitors, who
now have to watch helplessly as ceasefire violations continue unabated.
They should ideally be given powers of enforcement.
President Mahinda Rajapakse has extended an open invitation to the
LTTE to commence peace talks. LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran too has
described the President as a realist committed to peace. Notwithstanding
the latest incident, both sides should seize this mutual understanding
and opportunity to first strengthen the ceasefire and later start
substantive peace talks leading to a final solution.
Initial reports from the North indicate that both the Army and the
LTTE, along with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, are working to defuse
the tension that has been building up in the North during the last few
days. This must be used as a starting point for regaining a peaceful
atmosphere in the peninsula.
President Rajapakse too will appoint a three-member committee to
submit a report on the situation in Jaffna. They must probe the issue
deeply and recommend corrective action. New Army Commander Sarath
Fonseka and other Forces Commanders must also urge the troops to guard
against the LTTE's vile and provocative actions.
These are testing times. But we simply cannot afford to go back to
war. The President has reiterated that his Government does not consider
war as an option.
A negotiated settlement is the only way forward. However, one needs
both hands to clap. The LTTE must give up its violence-centred mindset
and demonstrate its commitment to the peace process.
The present path of violence will only lead to the ruin of the very
people that it claims to represent and liberate.