Sri Lanka rejects 'no-fire' period proposed by donor countries
The Sri Lankan government has rejected a call by international donors for it to begin negotiating with the Tamil Tiger rebels. Sri Lanka, which is poised to capture the remaining strongholds of LTTE, has rejected the plea of US-led donor countries for a temporary 'no-fire period' in the island's north, saying this would be "detrimental in efforts to wipe out terrorism" from its soil.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday rejected the Tokyo Co-Chairs’ (Norway, Japan, US and EU) call for immediate negotiations with the LTTE to facilitate surrender of LTTE arms with a view to working out a political solution.
Nothing could be as ridiculous as this, an angry Rajapaksa told The Island, emphasising that nothing short of unconditional surrender of arms and cadres could bring an end to the offensive on the Vanni front.
The so-called ‘no-fire’ period proposed by Co-Chairs to evacuate sick and wounded now trapped in the LTTE-held area would be detrimental to Sri Lanka’s efforts to wipe out terrorism, he said.
The Co-Chairs seem to have conveniently forgotten that a group of local UN employees and their dependents, too, had been held by the LTTE, he said. The LTTE had thwarted several attempts to evacuate them, he said. For the LTTE, now holed up in approximately 200 square kilometre area, the civilian human shield seemed to be its last defence, he said.
He was speaking after the armed forces concluded an impressive display of their might at Galle Face to mark the 61st anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence.
Sri Lanka displayed her Russian, Chinese and Israeli jets, Chinese artillery, Czechoslovakian multi-barrel rocket launchers and most importantly two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) acquired from India. SLNS Sayura and SLNS Sagara played a critical role in the operations against the LTTE’s shipping fleet thereby delivering a heavy blow to the organisation.
For almost two and half years, the armed forces had been fighting a difficult war against an enemy bent on dividing the country on ethnic lines, he said.
The Co-Chairs’ move, he asserted was nothing but a transparent attempt to save the Vanni Tigers. The international community shouldn’t hold Sri Lanka responsible for their failure to force the LTTE to allow civilians freedom of movement, the outspoken official said.