Home>News Center>World

Tamil Tigers have not given up right to secede: negotiator
Updated: 2004-10-27 20:37

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers have not abandoned their right to secede despite agreeing to explore a federal solution, the rebels said amid fresh diplomatic moves to salvage a faltering peace bid.

Tamil Tiger chief negotiator Anton Balasingham said a joint statement after a round of talks with the Colombo government in December 2002 had been misunderstood and misinterpreted as the Tigers abandoning the right to break away.

"The Liberation Tigers' decision to explore federalism ... does not entail an unconditional abandonment of the Tamils' right to external self-determination and secession," he said on Wednesday.

Balasingham's remarks, taken from his yet unpublished new book "War and Peace" and reproduced on the pro-rebel website Tamilnet, came as Sri Lanka's peace broker Norway and main financial backer Japan moved to save the troubled peace process.

Japan's special peace envoy Yasushi Akashi was due here later Wednesday for talks with both sides while Norway was expected to send envoys early next month.

The Tigers suspended their participation in direct negotiations in April last year after six rounds of talks with the government. The rebels have described the talks so far as a "waste of time".

However, the international community had projected the third round of talks in Oslo in December 2002 as a breakthrough, with the Tigers' agreeing to a federal solution in a country where 60,000 people had been killed in ethnic bloodshed.

In a statement after those talks, the Norwegian foreign ministry said "the parties agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka".

The statement, which came to be known as the "Oslo Declaration", was interpreted by diplomats as a sign that the Tigers were firmly committed to working towards a federal state and there would be no return to war.

"I feel it necessary to clarify our position on this controversial issue," Balasingham said. "It must be stated that there was not any specific proclamation titled the 'Oslo Declaration'.

"The decision to explore federalism was included in the record of decisions at the Oslo talks and signed by the chief negotiators of both delegations and the head of the Norwegian facilitating team."

Balasingham said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) still operated within the "overall framework of the right to self-determination, with its internal and external aspects".

If their demand for regional self-rule was rejected, he added, they would have no alternative but to secede and form an independent state.

Western diplomats here see the LTTE's latest interpretation of the "Oslo Declaration" as a new challenge for those directly involved in the peace process.

Norway warned in July that the truce they brokered and put in place in February 2002 had only "frozen" the war, but that this had begun to melt at the edges.

The LTTE insists that peace talks can resume based only on their proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority giving them regional autonomy.

The peace process is officially held up due to differences over an agenda for re-starting talks, but diplomats involved in the initiative say the unprecedented split among the rebels could be the real reason.

Norway has described the escalation of violence following a split in the Tamil Tiger movement as the most dangerous since the ceasefire.

Regional Tiger commander V. Muralitharan, better known as Karuna, led a split in March. Five weeks later, he escaped an onslaught and went underground after disbanding up to 6,000 fighters under him in the island's troubled east.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

6,953 officials probed for power flop



FM: talks with Japan on sea border advance



Two Chinese citizens killed in Senegal



Statistics show rise in industrial profits



Dissecting China's 'middle class'



China issues SARS warning as winter nears


  Bush, Kerry take campaigns to key states
  British military begins deployment in Iraq
  Iran to respond to EU nuclear offer, diplomats pessimistic
  Three Japan quake victims found after four days
  New quake rattles northern Japan, felt in Tokyo
  Japanese hostage in Iraq believed to be civilian traveler
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Tigers warning over autonomy fight
Sri Lankans rally against government peace plan
Sri Lanka sees peace talks resuming in early 2004
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels set to respond on talks
Two gunmen kill Sri Lankan politician
Tamil rebels attack Sri Lanka army camps, 13 dead
Sri Lankan suicide bomber explodes by mistake
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?