In Sri Lanka, Tamil Tiger cease-fire gets cool reception

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Feb 23 20:24:23 UTC 2009

In Sri Lanka, Tamil Tiger cease-fire gets cool reception
Just days after a defiant air attack, the LTTE has proposed a
cease-fire in the where its fighters are boxed in by a military

By Simon Montlake | Correspondent 02.23.09

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – Just days after a defiant air attack here, the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has proposed a cease-fire in
the north of the island where its fighters are boxed in by a military
advance. In a statement, the separatist group called on the US and
other international donors to press the Sri Lankan government to stop
fighting and seek a political solution to the 26-year-old conflict.

But the cease-fire offer fell well short of the unconditional
surrender sought by the government, which swiftly rejected the LTTE's
appeal. It also seems unlikely to sway the hardening stance among Sri
Lanka's allies that the war has reached a decisive point that requires
the losing party to lay down arms before any political deal emerges.

In recent weeks, international calls for a halt to hostilities in the
north, where at least 70,000 civilians are still trapped by fighting,
have given way to pressure on the LTTE to let non-combatants go. The
Red Cross has evacuated thousands of wounded civilians and has warned
of dire conditions for those trapped behind. The UN says the LTTE is
forcibly recruiting children into its ranks.

On Friday, two LTTE aircraft came down in Colombo in what the military
says was a thwarted suicide mission against two air force bases.
Monday's statement made no reference to the air strike but claimed
that the protection of Tamils is "dependent on the arms of the LTTE."
It condemned the international community for applauding "genocidal
attacks" on Tamils. Exiled Tamil groups in Europe have staged protest
rallies recently and voiced similar claims.

International relief agencies trying to help those fleeing from the
battlefield and into military-controlled refugee camps appear
reluctant to criticize Sri Lanka's all-out push for victory, despite
claims of rising casulties. Many in the government here are openly
dismissive of foreign NGOs working in war-torn areas and accuse some
of siding with the LTTE in the past, particularly in reconstruction
projects after the 2004 Asian tsunami that ravaged the eastern

"The government has said no cease-fire until the LTTE surrenders.
Humanitarian actors don't want to be accused of politically
interfering, lest it undermines the humanitarian work that they could
do," says Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center
for Policy Alternatives in Colombo.

Government officials say previous peace talks always collapsed because
the LTTE won't compromise its demand for an independent Tamil
mini-state. Since 2005, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has rallied the
Sinhalese majority behind a military offensive to crush the LTTE,
which draws support from minority Tamils.

The group began fighting for independence in 1983 and has defied
several past attempts to defeat its armed wing. But few expect a
turnaround in the current round of fighting which has already
drastically shrunk the territory controlled by the LTTE's remaining

>>From the Christian Science Monitor, 2/23/09

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list