No equal status for Tigers says expats

Apr 25 (InfoLanka) In a joint statement issued yesterday, eight organizations of Sri Lankan expatriates domiciled in Australia and New Zealand have stated that Sri Lanka's territorial sea cannot be handed over to a terrorist organisation to subvert democracy and create a separate state in Sri Lanka.

"According to informed sources, Sri Lanka government officials led by Austin Fernando, Secretary - Defence plan to meet the LTTE to decide whether to create 'specific areas' in the Northern and the Eastern territorial waters of Sri Lanka to be used exclusively by the Tamil Tigers. Discussions are to be based on recommendations made by Maj Gen. (retd) Tellefsen of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) to offer 'equal status' to Tamil Tigers with the Government of Sri Lanka.

"The Sri Lankan government does not have the right to negotiate away facets of good governance that are central to the country's sovereignty. The Prime Minister, without any reference to the Executive President and the Parliament, signed the MOU with the LTTE terrorists resulting in terrorist domination in the North and the East of Sri Lanka. The effort by the SLMM to hand over sea-lanes or specific areas of the sea to the Tamil Tigers will severely undermine the defence capability of the armed forces and possibly threaten the security of India and will also destabilize commercial shipping in the Indian ocean. The proposals of the SLMM Chief, if accepted by the Government, will legitimize the LTTE sea wing set-up to fight sovereign Sri Lanka's armed forces and carriage of illegal arms to the terrorists. If the Sri Lanka government succumbs again to appease the terrorists and the SLMM under the pretext of 'confidence building,' Sri Lanka will reach the 'point of no return.'

"As in Island nation, it is unacceptable to receive recommendations from a foreign party to hand parts of its sovereignty in the surrounding seas to an armed fascist outfit. Such an act contravenes national and international maritime law. We request the Government of Sri Lanka to refuse handing over one iota of jurisdiction over the seas surrounding Sri Lanka to the LTTE.

"The government should take this opportunity to examine the deleterious effects of the MOU and how a parallel administration is being gradually built up and run by the LTTE in the North and East of Sri Lanka. Numerous violations of the provisions in the MOU ranging from the harassment of civilians, attacks on political opponents, assassination of intelligence officers of Sri Lanka's army, to the continued subjugation of Sinhala and Muslim people in the North East are being ignored at the expense of governing a nation. This paralysis suffered by the UNF government is symptomatic of its impotency as 'rights' are conferred on the LTTE without any obligations or accountability.

"The role of the SLMM should be clarified immediately. The 'hands on' interference in Sri Lanka's sovereignty by Maj Gen (retd) Tellefson who has a chequered career is condemned as the SLMM surreptitiously changes its role from a monitor to a deal maker. The bias of the SLMM is aptly demonstrated by SLMM's recent incredulous conclusions about a 'third force' after the attack on the Chinese trawler in the Eastern waters. The SLMM and its head should not be permitted to prepare papers and recommend actions which are detrimental to the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Their task should be limited to monitoring compliance with the MOU. Substantial issues pertaining to the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka do not and should not come within their purview. They have shown a propensity to be intentionally blind to the transgressions of the LTTE of conditions in the MOU, whilst providing escape routes, spreading innuendo as a smoke screen and planning 'policy' papers to achieve the separatist agenda.

"We appeal to the President, the Prime Minister, key cabinet ministers, all parliamentarians, political leaders, heads of the defence services and members of the defence forces and patriotic leaders of civic organizations in Sri Lanka to 'Refuse handing over any part of the sea in the North and East of Sri Lanka to Tamil Tiger terrorists'

"We request all patriotic forces to register their protest using every means at their disposal, including 'peoples' power' similar to that used in the Philippines and Indonesia if the Government of Sri Lanka was to acquiesce to this dangerous proposal of the Tamil Tigers presented by the SLMM.

"Under no circumstance should the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka be a part of the political gamble of the GOSL."