head of the Government’s delegation to peace talks in
Geneva Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said yesterday that
the Government extends the hand of friendship to the LTTE
and invites them to renounce the path of violence, enter the
democratic process and join the political mainstream and help
the long-suffering people of the country, belonging to all
ethnic groups, to end their misery and enable them to live
The Minister’s remarks came during the opening speech
he made on the first day of the two day meeting between the
two sides, the first since February this year.
Mr. Silva said President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said clearly
that he will go the extra mile in search of peace –
a dignified and honourable peace, where a Sri Lankan model
of devolution will be devised for an undivided country to
address the root causes of this conflict. The Minister also
emphasized that the LTTE should not consider the Government’s
commitment to the peace process as a sign of weakness –
but as a reflection of its strong commitment and belief in
peace for all the people in Sri Lanka and in particular for
the people in the North and East.
The Minister also suggested certain measures to be taken
to normalize the situation in the context of the peace process:
He said firstly, political parties should be given free access
to all parts of Sri Lanka, including the uncleared areas.
Second, democratic institutions should be allowed to function
freely and without interference. This includes all offices
of the Government of Sri Lanka, including its judicial and
law enforcement institutions.
Third, a single mechanism of law and order should be able
to function throughout the country, in order to effectively
enforce laws and prosecute criminals. This requires providing
access to the Police personnel to certain areas, which are
currently denied to them, such as the districts of Mullaitivu
Fourth the groundwork for full democratization of the North
and East must be laid. All levels of society, from political
leaders to students, could be involved in a process of exploration
and discussion, the concept of free expression, on the substantive
issues surrounding democracy, including issues of devolution
The Minister also said the government acknowledges that
the human rights situation in the South needs improvement
in certain respects and all measures are being implemented
to achieve this.
He said a firm commitment exists in ensuring that the language
policy is properly implemented.
The Minister also referred to the Iranamadu airstrip and
said that the Government now possess very clear evidence that
the LTTE is continuing to improve and expand an illegal and
clandestine airstrip in Iranamadu and construct two other
airstrips in Mullativu. The Government hopes that these talks
will be the beginning of a productive dialogue and a fruitful
exchange of views with all persons concerned on the many substantive
issues relating to this conflict.
of the LTTE delegation S.P.Thamilselvan yesterday urged the
international community, the Co-Chairs and the Norwegian facilitators
to act to ensure one hundred percent the implementation of
the CFA and strengthening the role of the SLMM.
Excerpts of the speech made at the opening of the peace
talks in Geneva follows;
Respecting the call by the Co-chairs, we have come here
to yet again demonstrate our commitment for a just peace in
Six sessions of direct talks were held during which many
proposals were made to bring normalcy to the lives of the
people in the war torn Tamil homeland. In order to enable
the fruits of the CFA reach our people, we asked for an interim
In 2005 Mahinda Rajapaksa, portraying himself as a pragmatist,
became President. At the beginning of 2006, President Rajapaksa
agreed to hold talks about the implementation of the CFA.
At the Geneva talks, we published the uncontestable and
ample evidence of paramilitary and army collaboration which
was pushing the island away from the CFA.
Geneva talks ended with the agreement that the CFA must
be implemented fully in order to take forward the peace process.
For the sake of our people, we expected from the GoSL, sincere
implementation of the CFA.
Sadly, none of the agreements reached in Geneva were implemented
by the GoSL.
On the contrary, the conduct of the GoSL continued to worsen
the situation in the Tamil homeland pushing us and the Tamil
people to extreme frustration.
The EU ban on the LTTE arising from persistent pressure
from the GoSL has allowed the GoSL and its armed forces to
commit such acts with impunity.
With the Geneva agreements unimplemented the Norwegian facilitators
invited us to Oslo for a discussion about the work of the
SLMM. In Oslo, direct talks with the GoSL delegation was made
impossible because of the down graded composition of the delegation
and in view of all agreements reached during all the previous
direct talks remaining unimplemented.
We persisted with our request to reopen the A9 route in
view of the civilian misery caused by the closure and assured
our full cooperation.
The killing, disappearance, abduction and displacement of
civilians by the Sri Lankan military are continuing while
an internationally backed CFA is in force. Since Geneva I
talks the Sri Lankan military, using the paramilitary as cover,
has killed 870 civilians and has caused disappearances of
Among them 98 are children. The closure of the A9 route
and the resulting near starvation are cruel and deliberate
The best we can hope for from the current talks is therefore,
the strengthening of the CFA agreement that has the potential
to lead to a permanent, just peace in this island. This CFA
has the unique distinction of lessening the threat of resumption
of the three decades long war.