International Crisis Group asks LTTE to give up separatism

February 22nd, 2008 - 12:18 am ICT by admin  

By P.K. Balachandran
Colombo, Feb 21 (IANS) An international peace advocacy group has asked the Tamil Tiger rebels to eschew terrorism, formally abandon separatism, and announce an intention to negotiate a political settlement within a united Sri Lanka. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) in its latest report on Sri Lanka, called upon the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to “cease all attacks on civilians, suicide bombings, forced recruitment, and repression of media freedom and political dissent, and respect fully, international human rights and humanitarian law.”

It went on to urge the LTTE to “abandon publicly, the demand for an independent Tamil state (Eelam), and announce willingness to negotiate within the framework of a united Sri Lanka.”

The ICG asked the Sri Lankan government to conduct its military operations in strict accordance with international law, guarantee full and prompt access for UN agencies and humanitarian organizations with adequate supplies, to LTTE-controlled areas.

It urged the government to defend UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations against “unfounded” allegations by hard line politicians and accept the call for setting up a country office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR).

Turning to the political side of the Sri Lankan crisis, the ICG appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to fulfil his promise to fully implement the 13th amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution, so that the people of the north and east could enjoy the envisaged degree of autonomy.

It asked the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) to submit its proposals for devolution of powers (beyond what is envisaged in the 13th amendment) by the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year’ day this year, that is by mid-April.

On the role of the international community including India, the US and the donors, the ICG said it should accept the fact that the peace process initiated in February 2002 had run its course, and that a new bid for peace was needed.

The restart of hostilities in 2006 and the subsequent unilateral abandonment of the ceasefire agreement by the Sri Lankan government, had nullified the 2002 peace process.

The report recognized that peace broker Norway had ceased to enjoy the confidence of the Sri Lankan government and the polity of south Sri Lanka, for its alleged tilt towards the LTTE.

Sri Lanka’s donors (US, EU, Norway and Japan who were the co-chairs of the 2003 Tokyo donors conference) should realize that they could no longer play the role of peacemakers, the ICG said.

“There needs to be deepened cooperation between India, the EU, and the US with the goal of eventually developing a more politically powerful contact group,” it suggested.

The international community should, however, convince the Sri Lankan government to accept a fully staffed UNHCHR office, able to monitor and report on rights violations throughout the country.

The international community should also support efforts to bring about a power sharing system that would address the legitimate grievances of the minorities; monitor the implementation of the power sharing system envisaged in the 13th amendment; and urge the APRC to submit its proposals by mid April.

The ICG urged Britain to prosecute Col. Karuna, former leader of the militant group Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), for alleged war crimes. Karuna, who had broken away from the LTTE in 2004 and set up the pro-government TMVP, is currently serving a jail term in Britain for violation of passport and visa rules.

To the United Nations, the ICG said that it should recommend targeted sanctions against the LTTE and TMVP for continued recruitment of children and their use in military combat.

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