29th April 2003
Dr Anton Balasingham
Chief Negotiator to the LTTE
Dear Dr Balasingham,
I write further to my letter of 22nd
April 2003 in response to yours of 21st April, in which you had
expressed your organisation’s concern in relation to some critical
issues on the ongoing peace process.
I must at the outset express my complete agreement with you that
during the 14 months in which the Ceasefire Agreement has been
consolidated as a result of the sincerity and determination shown
by both sides, there has been substantial progress towards peace
and development throughout the country. For instance:
- The Ceasefire has held for a period of 14 months; the daily
toll of dead and maimed combatants and civilians has been brought
to a halt.
- SLMM procedures have been strengthened and its activities
and coverage expanded; critical situations which would earlier
have led to conflict have been defused and resolved.
- Places of worship and schools occupied by the Military have
been handed over.
- The Government and LTTE have established SIHRN an institution
for decision making in which both have equal participation.
- Through a joint approach by the Government and the LTTE to
the Donors, a funding mechanism NERF has been established.
- Some of the issues pertaining to the Muslims have been addressed.
- Detailed study of Federal and Government structures has been
undertaken by both sides.
- The Joint Gender Committee has been set up.
- Positive working relationships have been established between
the parties at operational level.
- The international Donors, both multilateral and bilateral,
have already disbursed substantial funding (in excess of US$
30 million) for humanitarian and rehabilitation work in the
Although it has not been possible
to reach agreement on all matters our joint resolve to cooperate
has provided the space and confidence for the international community
to participate in rehabilitation and development. The 14 month
period of peace has therefore been one of steady progress and
hope to our people.
Let me take up one by one, the various
reasons which appear to have led your organisation to take what
you have termed as a “painful decision.”
1. Exclusion of the LTTE from the
Preparatory Seminar in Washington:
As you would know, the Japanese Government suggested preparatory
seminars in Washington, Brussels and Oslo prior to the Tokyo Conference.
The Government of Norway later felt that it would forego this
opportunity since the Oslo meeting last November had virtually
served this purpose. Subsequently for various logistical reasons
mainly connected with the Iraq crisis, the decision to hold a
meeting in Europe was changed and it was proposed to have a preparatory
meeting in Colombo in May. These arrangements were discussed at
the meeting at Hakone.
There were two other significant reasons for going ahead with
the Washington seminar in April. The first, was the fact that
such a seminar would enable the gathering of major Donors who
would be present in Washington as participants in the important
Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF. The other reason was
that it was important to obtain commitment of the Donors to this
process before their attention was absorbed by the needs of Iraq
as a consequence of the situation following that conflict.
The Washington preparatory seminar was not a pledging conference.
The multilateral organisations present at the seminar announced
their indicative figures under their Country programme at the
The LTTE’s inability to attend the seminar was due to the fact
that the organisation still remains a banned organisation under
United States Law. I regret the LTTE could not participate and
you will appreciate that the Government cannot be blamed for this
From the inception the Government was committed to working with
the LTTE in rebuilding the North-East. In fact the Tokyo Conference
offered by the Japanese Government as a pledging conference for
the Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka took this fact
into consideration. The Conference is to be opened by the Prime
Minister of Japan.
2. The non-implementation of the terms
and conditions enunciated in the truce document:
Both sides have obligations to fulfil the terms of the Ceasefire
Agreement. While there has been increasing compliance, I agree
with you that there is yet much to be done to implement fully,
the provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement. Our view is that both
parties should commit themselves to doing so. The presence of
the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission has undoubtedly helped in ensuring,
to the extent possible, the observance of the Ceasefire in all
its aspects. The final objective of course is normalisation of
the ground situation. However in view of the fact that the conflict
has been long drawn out, normalisation is bound to be a difficult
process. Both sides I know, have been impatient at the pace at
which normalisation has taken place and it would be necessary
to renew our joint commitment to make progress.
3. The suffering and hardship experienced
by hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Tamils:
The highest priority has been given by the Government, your organisation
and the international community to alleviate the conditions of
the internally displaced, as quickly as possible. We ourselves
have pledged at the last election to (a) take steps to make life
easier for the people of the North and East, and (b) solve the
problems of people who have been displaced and rendered helpless
by war. In fact there has been progress. The Government has taken
substantial loans from the World Bank and ADB for re-settlement
of internally displaced persons and the numbers have been reduced
There is also the further question of de-mining of the lands
in which internally displaced persons would be settling and an
effective programme is underway with several international Donors
committed to humanitarian mine action. Indeed the work of your
own TRO and its humanitarian de-mining unit working in the Vanni
in this endeavour, is highly appreciated.
Of course there is much more to be done to make life better for
the people. There have been delays in implementation due to the
breakdown in Government administration as a result of the twenty
year conflict. In the last few weeks we have been discussing the
measures to strengthen the effectiveness of implementation and
to establish an effective coordination mechanism for administration
in the Northern districts – the districts worst affected by the
war. The Government will keep the LTTE briefed on these proposals
prior to implementation.
We will also convey to you our views on making SIRHN more effective
and look forward to reaching agreement on the modifications that
are needed. As Mr Bernard Goonetilleke’s letter of 28th April
2003 would have informed Mr Tamilchelvan, we have formulated procedures
to commence the 15 approved projects while the formal arrangements
for NERF are being finalised. The Norwegian Facilitator will be
apprising you of the manner in which we are overcoming this problem.
4. The aggressive Military occupation
of Northern cities and civilian settlement:
Ever since the Ceasefire, the policy of the Government has been
to restore normalcy in order that the civilian population would
be enable to carry on their customary livelihood. The visible
signs of this are, the increased production in fisheries and the
bumper paddy harvest that has been experienced in the recent Maha
season in the Vanni.
Though there are yet steps to be taken to reduce the constraints
now necessitated by security considerations, the difference in
people’s lives over the past year is I believe quite evident.
The Government is committed, as I mentioned earlier, to resolve
the issues of the persons displaced by war. Mr Austin Fernando,
Secretary Defence by his letter dated 27th April 2003 informed
Mr Tamilchelvan of the intention of the Army to release the two
hotels in Jaffna town and the surrounding houses. Pre-fabricated
buildings to house the troops have already been ordered. The Report
prepared by General Nambiar on the Review of the High Security
Zones, as mentioned in the Talks of 6th – 9th January will also
be available when the Talks resume.
5. The marginalisation of the people
of North-East in the macro economic policies and strategies of
A careful reading of the “Regaining
Sri Lanka” document which contains the vision and strategy for
acceleration of development will indicate the degree to which
conflict related development has been emphasised.
Regaining Sri Lanka is the National
Economic Policy Framework of the Government. Its objective is
to achieve and sustain a high rate of growth for a decade or so
which will enable
(a) the creation of employment opportunities
(b) generation of sufficient economic resources for long term
development of the North-East.
The specific strategies and plans
for promoting economic development in the North East will be worked
out in consultation with the LTTE. There is no intention to exclude
the LTTE from the process.
One of the achievements for the Government
and the LTTE was the ability to cooperate in commissioning the
Multi Agency Needs Assessment to identify the reconstruction and
rehabilitation requirements of the North-East. Once the two parties
agree on this Report, it will become the official planning framework
for the rebuilding of the North-East. Reference to the planning
framework will be included in the Regaining Sri Lanka document.
This planning framework will also be submitted to the Tokyo Donor
Meeting in addition to the Regaining Sri Lanka document.
In the face of these very positive
developments, albeit not at the pace which we might have desired,
it is extremely unfortunate that the LTTE leadership has decided
to suspend its participation in the negotiations for the time
I am however, encouraged by the reiteration
of your commitment to seek a negotiated political solution to
the question, and in furtherance of this, hope that you would,
at this decisive time, review your present stance, and continue
a partnership which has as you have conceded, already achieved
I believe finally this would be in
complete accord with the firm desire of all our people that the
peace process continues without interruption.
Prime Minister of Sri Lanka