Was peace process one sided?
Excerpts of a speech made by Douglas Devananda, MP,
Secretary General of EPDP and Minister of Social Services and Social
Welfare, at the Seminar on "Sri Lanka: Quest for Peace", held in New
Delhi February 3.
SPEECH: The present peace process in Sri Lanka has to be
traced backed to the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement between the then
Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE on February 22, 2002. This
agreement is one sided and has not given space for political pluralism.
Before I delve into the violations of the CFA and explain to you how
the LTTE has made use of the CFA to its advantage.
The LTTE has been behaving in similar manner it was acting soon after
the Indo-Lanka pact. Let me at the outset elucidate the drawbacks in the
CFA, which is the prime cause for the failure of the agreement itself.
My party the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) had brought to
the notice of the then Government and the Norwegian facilitator about
these flaws soon after the CFA was signed.
Drawbacks in the CFA
The Ceasefire Agreement was aimed at enhancing the LTTE's military
capacity while depriving even the basic protections the other alternate
Tamil political parties had for their self defence.
Ceasefire Agreements not only facilitated the elimination of the
alternate voices, but also added injury by branding them as
"paramilitaries" in order to project them as 'irrelevant parties' in the
The sacrifices of the remaining alternate Tamil political parties and
their consistent efforts to bring back normalcy and for a final solution
to the Tamil problem have been completely ignored and they were
humiliated by branding them as paramilitary.
The Tamil community has been the victim of war and experimental
First, I wish to touch on article 1.8 which states as follows, I
"Tamil paramilitary groups shall be disarmed by the GOSL by D-day +
30 days at the latest. The GOSL shall offer to integrate individuals in
these units under the command and disciplinary structure of the GOSL
armed forces for service away from the Northern and Eastern Province,"
In fact this clause has given undue advantage to the LTTE in
annihilating the alternative Tamil political parties in the North and
I do not know why the term Tamil paramilitary is used here. But the
fact remains that when the LTTE retracted from its commitment to
Indo-Lanka pact and started Eelam War two, the Government of Sri Lanka
provided arms to other Tamil political parties which emerged from the
status quo of militant groups to political parties after the Indo-Lanka
accord, in order to protect their members from the LTTE atrocities.
Even my party, the EPDP, members received arms from the Government
solely for self-defensive purpose. Respective governments in power,
since then, adhered to this policy.
Under the provision of this article, political parties such as the
EPDP, the PLOTE and the faction of the EPRLF were obliged to hand over
all weapons issued to them by successive Governments for their
self-protection from the LTTE.
These parties cooperated in the process, and in return they were
promised protection through the law and order apparatus of the Sri
But these parties became the victims of this Ceasefire Agreement and
lost many members during the ceasefire period. The LTTE was however
permitted to keep its weapons in the areas under its control.
The above mentioned clause was aimed at dismantling the alternate
political parties in order to pave way for the LTTE to establish a
dictatorial rule in the North and East.
Further, if you take Article 1.11 to 1.13 under the caption "freedom
of movement", it gives explicit right for the LTTE cadres to move into
state control areas without any reciprocal arrangement. The article
under reference begins as follows. I quote:
"The Parties agree that individual combatants shall, on the
recommendation of their area commander, be permitted, unarmed and in
plain clothes, to visit family and friends residing in areas under the
control of the other Party." Unquote.
Here, the CFA has not taken cognition of the fact that this permits
only one way traffic, because normally there are no family members of
the Sri Lankan security forces living in the LTTE controlled areas.
Further, the final article under this chapter ends as follows. I quote
"As of D-day + 90, all unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted
freedom of movement in the North and East. The LTTE members shall carry
identity papers." Unquote.
Here, too while the LTTE cadres are given full freedom of movement
into the State controlled areas, members of the alternate Tamil
political parties, their supporters and those who do not subscribe to
the LTTE views had no access to the LTTE controlled areas nor can travel
through the A9 road.
Even the members of TNA, the proxy alliance of LTTE, are not
permitted to move in freely in LTTE controlled areas. CFA did not take
into consideration, the plight of those who do not fall in line with the
LTTE politically. There is no clause for vice versa arrangement.
Article 3.6 and 3.7 which deals with the establishment of SLMM
offices and local monitoring committees, all the districts of North and
East are mentioned except Killinochchi and Mullaitivu districts, where
most of the human rights violations are taking place.
If we look at the composition of this district-wise local monitoring
committees, article 3.7 permits two representatives each from Government
and LTTE in addition to one international monitor.
It is this same committee that is empowered to entertain complaints
by the public for hostile acts against the civilian population,
including such acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and
harassment as stipulated in article 2.1 of the agreement.
In practice, every complaint by the civilian population was reported
to the LTTE hierarchy by the LTTE representatives of the committee which
resulted in harassment to the complainer.
As a result, public has lost hope in this committee and refrained
from making complaints.
Finally, I would say that a perception of two territories has been
created by admission in the CFA to the exclusion of the LTTE -
controlled areas, from the writ of Sri Lanka.
Having said the major drawbacks in the CFA, let me now look at how
the LTTE made use of thee loop-holes to its best advantage.
The Ceasefire Agreement which gave undue advantages to the LTTE
helped to extend its deadly control over Government controlled areas as
well, thereby weakening the writ of the Government.
Although the Ceasefire Agreement, by and large, is said to have
resulted in the guns falling silent, the Ceasefire has become a
nightmare to the majority of the Tamil people who believe in the
preservation of human rights, political pluralism and democracy in the
North-East part of Sri Lanka.
This is a ceasefire during which several members of political parties
and civilians who did not subscribe to the policies of the LTTE or
refused to meet with the extortion demand of the LTTE were assassinated
by the LTTE.
My party, the EPDP, had lost many lives at the hands of the LTTE's
death squads during this period. I submit to this forum a detail list of
killings, abduction, attempted murder and causing injuries to EPDP
members by the LTTE.
I table a list containing details of my party members killed,
abducted and wounded by the LTTE since signing of CFA. I am also
submitting another list containing acts of violations of CFA, other than
acts committed against EPDP, members by the LTTE.
Several members of the EPDP, PLOTE and DPRLF faction have been
abducted, beaten up, fired upon, attacked with clubs, swords and
grenades, and even killed. As of late, terrorist attacks on senior
members of these parties have increased in frequency and severity.
The LTTE has also been targeting, activists and supporters of these
parties who do not have any form of protection. The LTTE terrorists are
not only killing party members, activists and supporters, but even
members of their families, including children and infants.
In parallel to these hostile acts against political parties and their
supporters, the LTTE is also engaged in hostile acts such as child
conscription, abduction, murder and extortion involving ordinary
civilians, The abduction of adults and children has not abated.
The conscription of children to the LTTE's army goes on despite
undertakings to the contrary given by the LTTE to the international
community. The LTTE continues with its orgy regardless of the opinion of
the international community.
Extortion, which is respectably termed as "taxation" by the LTTE has
reached alarming proportions. It has been estimated that the LTTE is
collecting a minimum of Rs. 200 million per month through extortion.
Apart from this extortion at the entry points, the LTTE continued to
abduct people for ransom and collected huge amounts from the unarmed
The LTTE has set up its own police force, its own judiciary, and its
own bank in the areas of the North-East under its military control.
These institutions have begun to extend their sway over
Government-controlled areas in the North-East as well.
The LTTE courts were trying persons in government-controlled areas
for what the LTTE considers as offences.
The LTTE was able to summon any persons in government controlled
areas by intimidating the government servants and forced the civilians
to come to the LTTE controlled areas for inquiries.
It is thus apparent that the LTTE's judicial and law and order
machineries have extended their jurisdiction to government-controlled
Other Political parties are unable to function freely in the North
and East. Political activities by these parties are hampered by means of
intimidation, threats, physical attacks or abductions by the LTTE.
Democracy and political pluralism in the North and East are being
systematically destroyed by the LTTE.
Role of SLMM
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) comprising members from the
Nordic countries is a passive spectator to the ongoing mayhem and murder
carried out by the LTTE terrorists. Throughout the past five years, the
LTTE has been violating Articles
1.2, 1.7 and 2.1 of the Ceasefire Agreement with impunity. The
affected parties had on several occasions brought to the notice of the
SLMM that the LTTE was violating provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement,
but to no avail.
The SLMM has been reduced to a powerless puppet working on a specific
political agenda. They could only inquire into any complaints by seeking
information, but cannot take any deterrent action.
Members of the SLMM cannot function independently, with any right or
mechanism to do their work, particularly, in LTTE held areas.
As I have already explained the inclusion of LTTE members into the
local monitoring committees has made the whole system of inquiry
The SLMM is not in a position to act on many complaints of killings,
attempted murders, extortion, fines, illegal levy referred to as
taxation, kidnapping, hijacking of vehicles etc. against the LTTE.
They keep saying that these issues are not within their purview and
issue statements to the effect that the implementation of the CFA is
progressing well. These are done with utter disregard for the public who
All parties committee
At this juncture, it is important to recognise that for the first
time in the history of Sri Lanka, on the initiative of President Mahinda
Rajapaksa all major political parties have come forward to find a
political solution to the ethnic conflict.
He has appointed two committees for this purpose, one committee
consisting of party representatives, known as APRC and another committee
consisting of experts.
The experts committee has already come out with the proposal, while
the APRC is in the process of presenting a final document.
It is left to the representatives of the Tamil-speaking people of Sri
Lanka to clinch this opportunity. If not, they would be betraying their
Role of India
Before I conclude, I wish to say a few words on the bond that had
existed between India and Sri Lanka for millennia. The two countries are
bound by geography, history, culture, religions and languages.
It was this bond that compelled India to intervene in Sri Lanka in
1983. It is this same bond that now calls upon India to play a positive
role in finding a lasting solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.
It is very clear that Prabhakaran has not changed at all from his
goal of a separate Independent state of "Tamil Eelam".
He will not change even in the future. If he appears to be sending
signals that he is prepared to negotiate a federal solution, he is only
repeating what he had been doing over the past two decades. Sending
signals is part of his strategy.
We hope that the Government of India would assist and facilitate the
peace process initiated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is very keen
in solving this problem at the earliest and in building a new Sri Lanka.