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LTTE asks Govt to disarm Karuna

LTTE negotiator Balasingham has asked Govt to disarm Tamil paramilitaries, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 21:20 IST

At the opening of the Geneva conference on the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) on Wednesday, the LTTE asked the Sri Lankan Government to disarm its Tamil paramilitaries, chiefly the Karuna group.

From the statement of the LTTE's chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, it is clear that this is the main issue for the organisation.

If Balasingham "called upon" the Sri Lankan government to do anything in regard to the CFA, it was to disarm the Tamil paramilitaries.

And significantly, in the LTTE's list of these groups, the Karuna group is number one.

"It is the considered view of our liberation organisation, as well as the general public opinion of the Tamil people, that the armed violence of the Tamil paramilitaries is posing a grave threat to peace and stability in Tamil areas and endangering the Ceasefire Agreement."

"Therefore, we call upon the Government of Sri Lanka disarm these Tamil paramilitary organisations, fulfilling a crucial obligation of the truce agreement," Balasingham said.

He pointed out that as per Art 1.8 of the CFA, the Government of Sri Lanka had an obligation to disarm these paramilitary groups.

Identifying the Tamil paramilitaries, Balasingham said: "There are five major paramilitary groups operating in the northeast and Colombo. They are known as Karuna group, EPDP group, PLOTE group, EPRLF (Varathar) group and a Muslim paramilitary group called Jehad group."

"Since these Tamil armed organisations are sustained, supported and controlled by the Sri Lankan military, we categorise them as paramilitaries," Balasingham explained.

"They are well organised militant forces, properly trained and armed in subversive warfare, and function covertly in connivance with the Sri Lankan armed forces," he charged.

The LTTE would give a detailed report to the conference on each of these groups, both in terms of personnel and leadership, Balasingham said.

He alleged that 109 Tamils were killed by the Sri Lankan armed forces with the active involvement of the Tamil paramilitary groups and 48 civilians had disappeared after detention by the Sri Lankan military.

The government as well as the SLMM had not taken cognisance of the violations including abductions, killings and extortion, committed by the Tamil paramilitaries, Balasingham complained.

"It is only recently that the SLMM has realized the negative consequences of the violence of the Tamil paramilitaries," he noted.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), a Scandinavian body, monitors the CFA.

Balasingham pointed out that the international community had consistently called for the disarming of these paramilitaries.

The LTTE's negotiator did mention other issues involving the Ceasefire Agreement, but did not make any demands as he did in the case of the paramilitaries.

Disputes statistics on violations

Balasingham disputed the statistics on CFA violations trotted out by the government and the SLMM.

He said that the government's accusation that the LTTE had committed 5464 violations was an exaggeration.

"We cannot accept such exaggerated figures," he said.

Disputing the accusation on child recruitment, Balasingham said that the government had "not taken into account the complex child right issues in the north east and the number of children released by the LTTE under the Action Plan for the War Affected Children in association with UNICEF."

Key clauses not implemented

The LTTE's negotiator said that the government had failed to implement key clauses of the CFA and said that this had prevented return to normalcy in the Tamil-speaking North East.

Troops still occupied schools, public buildings and farms and houses of civilians he pointed out.

The High Security Zones in Jaffna still occupied 13,000 acres fertile lands and 28,830 houses and 20,000 families had been reduced to destitution, he alleged.

Call to maintain CFA

Balasingham, however, maintained that the two parties should maintain the CFA, as it was a document carefully crafted with the full approval of both the parties.

He did not say that the LTTE had not violated the CFA, but blamed all parties including the paramilitaries for the "serious violations". But the way out was not to make accusations and counter accusations against each other, he pleaded.

"It would be prudent to engage in a constructive discussion, exploring ways ways and means to stabilise and strengthen the Ceasefire Agreement.

You will agree that consolidating the Ceasefire Agreement is the only practical way open to the parties in conflict to stabilise the conditions of peace and normalcy, which are essential and crucial to take the peace process forward," Balasingham concluded.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 21:20 IST