Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke has noted, that following the assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar last week, he had emphasized to the US Government, the need to send a strong message to the LTTE and had urged that the US Government examines what options are available to it, in view of the rapid escalation of provocative terrorist activities by the LTTE. Ambassador Goonetilleke has called for concerted international action that is immediate and tangible against the LTTE, to include not only those that have a bearing on the LTTE, but also its numerous front organizations in many countries through which the organisation continues its reign of terror in Sri Lanka.

Ambassador Goonetilleke made these observations when he spoke to media personnel, who attended the signing of the Condolence Book opened at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington, by US Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, on Tuesday 16.

Earlier in his comments, the Ambassador said Sri Lanka appreciates the accurate characterization of the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar as a “terrorist act” by many distinguished international statesperson, in their messages of condolence. The evidence was incontrovertible that the assassination of the Foreign Minister was committed by the LTTE. The need of the hour is now to follow up on the recognition of the nature of the terrorist act, by taking practical and effective measures as required by international law, for the prevention and suppression of terrorism. These measures could include sanctions and internationally isolating responsible entities and individuals, and engaging in international law enforcement cooperation, against terrorist activities.

He appreciated the important role played by the international community in the face of terrorism, and particularly naming of the LTTE as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Government as early as in 1997, which had forced the LTTE to enter into a ceasefire agreement in February 2002 and subsequently to the negotiating table. It was now clear that the LTTE had only done so in order to ‘buy time’ in the international climate that they faced in the aftermath of 9/11. According to the Scandinavian truce monitors (SLMM), upto May 2005, the LTTE had committed 2903 ceasefire violations, including assassination of members of the democratic political parties, government officials, civilians and members of the armed forces and the police; abductions for ransom, forcible recruitment of young boys and girls in their early teens and a host of other criminal activities. In contrast, the Sri Lanka Government has violated the ceasefire 131 times, which has largely been instances of harassment. The group also does not permit democratic dissent in the areas dominated by them and has systematically eliminated all political opponents through assassinations. Regrettably the international response has not been adequate for the LTTE to change its unacceptable behavior. He saw the important role that can be played by the four co-chairs (Norway, Japan, US and Europe) supply the peace process in Sri Lanka in this regard.

The Ambassador said, despite this grave provocation, the Sri Lanka Government will continue to restrain itself from taking action that could jeopardize the ceasefire. The commitment of the Sri Lanka Government to the Ceasefire Agreement and devolution of power was clearly enunciated in the statement made by President Kumaratunga in her speech to the nation on Sunday (August 14). In her statement the President said, “We must prevail to ensure that Lakshman Kadirgamar’s sacrifice has not been in vain. I will redouble my efforts and the commitment of my government to implement the task of devolution of power based on a democratic and pluralistic society, through dialogue with all the communities inhabiting our land.”

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

16 August 2005

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