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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

EPDP hits out at the Co-chairs for the escalation of violence by the LTTE

Colombo, 02 June, (; In a statement issued by the EPDP it has denied the allegation made by the Co-chairs that they are responsible for the recent escalation of violence. Pointing a finger directly at the LTTE for the escalation of violence the EPDP has said that the International Community is following the disinformation campaign launched against it by the LTTE.

EPDP also points our that the International Community must accept its share of blame for the escalation of violence by LTTE, targeting the Tamil community and destabilizing the peace process.

The EPDP statement adds that the International Community pushed the Sri Lankan government and other parties to give in to the LTTE demands without receiving any substantial gains for either peace or the protection of human right.

Here is the full text of the EPDP statement:

While we appreciate the efforts of the Co-Chairs in reviving the peace talks in Sri Lanka to find a permanent solution to the ethnic conflict, we are perturbed by the remarks made against our party in the Media release of 30 May 2006 of the Co -Chairs.

If EPDP was having violent elements within the party, we could have retaliated and defended our members who were killed by the LTTE during the period when the Ceasefire was supposed to be in force. Members of the EPDP including many democratically elected members of local bodies became victims of the Ceasefire which came with guarantees of security for all from the International Community.

As one of the common targets of the LTTE, I wish to state that with the free access granted to the LTTE cadres to roam unfettered in all parts of the island under provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement many attempts were made on my life during this time.

One woman suicide bomber failed in her attempt to kill me in my office last 07 July 2004, subsequently killing herself and four police officers at a police station next to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister's official residence.

The Tigers did not spare even our sympathizers who worked for us during elections. Many members of public were targeted for the simple reason that they contacted us to solve their day-to-day problems. In short, we bore the brunt of LTTE terrorism and made supreme sacrifices during this period.

When the serial killing of our members were going on without any protection from the International Community or any other force, we exercised maximum restraint and appealed again and again to the International Community to pressure the LTTE to stop the killings. We never indulged in revenge killings nor resorted to violent activities in retaliation. We expressed our protests democratically and non-violently objecting to the senseless killings of the LTTE. We maintained our calm and sense of balance on all occasions when we were under pressure from the provocative violence of the LTTE.

We were among the earliest Tamil groups to give up the armed struggle and join the democratic mainstream with the signing of the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement in 1987. Since then, we have been working hard to solve the ethnic problem through peaceful and democratic means. In the meantime, the Tigers unleashed terror on Tamil political leaders, party members and supporters. It was during this time that members of Tamil parties were given arms for their protection.

With the signing of Memorandum of Understanding in 2002, we readily agreed to hand over the weapons that were given by the successive Governments, to protect ourselves from the LTTE attacks, and cooperated with the Government and the International facilitators to find a solution to the ethnic problem.

After we joined the democratic mainstream, we have been striving to bring back normalcy in the war-torn areas by building grassroot organizations to improve the security and the human rights of the Tamil people. We were in the forefront to revive the independent judicial system despite threats to our lives from the Tigers. Tamil people appreciate the work we have done under difficult situations to improve the living conditions of the north and the east.

It is necessary to emphasize that in the year 2002, when the Ceasefire Agreement was signed, our offices and our members were attacked by the LTTE with the intention of chasing us away from the North and East regions. Their attacks against our members and offices increased and intensified over the years and we lost nearly 55 unarmed members who sacrificed their lives in order to safeguard the fundamental rights of the Tamil people and to promote pluralism in the war-torn area. In spite of the repeated attacks on our cadres our party members have maintained a commendable restraint and self-control, bearing in silence the suffering inflicted on the Tamil people by the Tigers. We regret to note that in a world overflowing with human rights activists hardly anyone came to our defense. We had to provide our own defense against a group of terrorists listed by the International Community.

Everybody tolerated the unfair powers given to the LTTE in the Ceasefire Agreement which gave them the license to trample on the human rights of the Tamil people purely for the sake of maintaining peace. Victims of LTTE atrocities suffered in silence believing that it is the inevitable price that has to be paid for keeping the LTTE in the peace process. But the sacrifices made by the people to keep the peace process going were not rewarded by the LTTE with commensurate respect for the human rights of the war-weary people.

The International Community pushed the Sri Lankan government and all other parties to give in to the LTTE in the hope of winning peace at the end of the day. The Co-chairs and other diplomats went in procession to persuade the Vanni leadership to renounce violence and enter the democratic stream. But they were snubbed by the Vanni leadership time and time again. The banning of the LTTE by the EU proves our point that the LTTE has not renounced violence and is not likely to renounce violence. Nor have they shown any inclination to enter the democratic stream. In the light of this the EPDP, which has renounced violence and entered the democratic stream, feels that they have been singled out unfairly on false allegations of resorting to violence by the Co-chairs.

We feel that it is the Co-chairs that must take the full responsibility for the escalation of violence by the LTTE because they have been pussy-footing around with the LTTE without putting the due pressure on them to give up their violence. In blaming the EPDP the Co-chairs have once again played the LTTE card to protect them as against those in democratic stream, having renounced violence. The EPDP denies categorically that they were involved in any violent activity after it joined the political mainstream. Nor have we encouraged terrorism of any sort. We strongly deny that we have violent elements in our party and are involved in violent activities in any part of Sri Lanka.

It is sad to note that the Co - Chairs has issued a statement making allegations against the EPDP based on the disinformation campaign of the LTTE and other interested parties. Nowadays, the media and even INGOs issue statements based on unreliable sources without verifying their facts from the scene of the incidents and without understanding the rapidly changing ground situation in Sri Lanka. It is amusing to note that various parties issue contradictory statements quoting competing sources.

Recently, a reputed organization like Amnesty International too believed these stories and rushed to issue a statement in three days time, incriminating our party for the killings in Kayts. We have requested the Amnesty International to investigate into these incidents impartially and come to a conclusion before they accuse anybody for any killings. This kind of baseless statements question the credibility, reputation and impartiality of these International Organizations. In addition, they commit the mistake of accusing the victims instead of targeting the victimizers.

We wish to appeal to all interested parties not to tarnish our party’s image by accusing our party for any of these killings without proper investigation into the incidents.

We have lost enough members and suffered enough for the sake of rescuing the Tamil Community from the clutches of the LTTE, and to achieve an honourable, just, and permanent peace with dignity for the Tamil Community. Even today, on the date of issuing this statement, two of our members were killed in Vavuniya and another member sustained series injuries in Batticalloa in an explosion – all of which were perpetrated by the LTTE.

We wish to state emphatically that we are not a paramilitary organization and never worked with the armed forces. We are engaged in political activities and have been representing the Tamil people in Parliament continuously from 1994 to date. Members of our party had been elected to many of the local bodies. Our offices are open to the general public who come in large numbers to our offices in the North and East for redresses. Our offices are provided with police protection and our movements are restricted after the ceasefire agreement. We cannot venture out of our offices without the police escort.

We strongly deny all the allegations leveled against us by all parties including the UN organs based on unreliable sources without going through the due process of investigating the reported incidents.

We wish to bring to the notice of the International Community and the Co-chairs that we are continually under threat by the LTTE who have never stopped targeting the dissident Tamil parties.. But despite this we wish to assure the Co-chairs that we will continue to support the efforts of the Co-Chairs in finding a permanent solution to the ethnic problem and to pave way for us to lead a peaceful life in Sri Lanka.

We also welcome the recent statement of the EU assuring their support for multi-party democracy in Tamil areas. We wish to urge the International community to strengthen the democratic forces within the Tamil community which are battling not only for peace but for their own security. We urge the International Community to take sterner action against the LTTE terror without diverting attention to the other Tamil parties who have been deliberately marginalized by the Co-chairs, thus giving an unfair advantage to the LTTE to suppress and attack Tamil parties who refuse to toe the politics of a one-man regime run from the Vanni. The International Community can do much more to restore peace and normalcy in Sri Lanka and the first step in this direction is to revise the provisions in the Ceasefire Agreement that gives the LTTE the leeway to run a war-mongering, fascist regime.

We believe that peace has a chance only if their political and military capabilities are reduced to the point where they will not be able to send suicide bombers, run a one-man regime, abuse Tamil children, and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in general. The future role of the International Community is in guiding the LTTE away from violence. Failure to achieve this goal will lead to the failure of the International Community’s efforts to restore peace and normalcy to war-weary people of Sri Lanka.

While thanking them profoundly for their tireless efforts in trying to solve our country’s burning problems we urge the Co-Chairs to take meaningful actions to end violence, to resolve the ethnic problems and to help the people of Sri Lanka live in peace

(Sgd.)K.N.Douglas Devananda MP
Secretary General, EPDP
01 June 2006

- Asian Tribune -

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