|Cease-fire will only give Sri Lanka rebels 'lifeline': Government|
|Monday, 23 February 2009|
COLOMBO-- The Sri Lankan government on Monday rejected an urgent plea by the Tamil Tiger rebels for a cease-fire without disarming, saying it would only result in giving them a ''lifeline.''
''Our position is that they must lay down their arms and surrender and there is no change in that,'' military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.
''If there is an unconditional surrender, then we can talk about a cease-fire,'' he said.
In Brussels, Sri Lanka's ambassador to the European Union, Ravinatha Ariyasinha, anticipating an EU call for a cease-fire, has written to Britain's EU ambassador, saying ''calling for a 'cease-fire' will only have the effect of providing a lifeline'' to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
He noted in his letter that the LTTE is a proscribed organization in Britain as well as in the EU.
Earlier Monday, the LTTE, cornered in about 70 square kilometers of territory in the island's north, appealed to the international community to assist the imposition of an immediate cease-fire but said they are unwilling to lay down their arms or surrender.
''The world should take note that calls for the LTTE to lay down its arms and surrender is not helpful for resolving the conflict,'' said a letter signed by B. Nadesan, head of the LTTE's political wing, to several global leaders, including the prime minister of Japan.
''It is the political reality that the arms of the LTTE are the protective shield of the Tamil people and their tool for political liberation,'' it said.
Those addressed by the LTTE include U.S. President Barack Obama, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the U.N. Security Council, the Commissioner of the European Union and the prime ministers of Britain, Japan and Norway.
The letter also said the LTTE had taken part in numerous peace efforts, but ''no one insisted then that the LTTE should lay down its arms.''
But analysts noted this was incorrect, saying that when India intervened in Sri Lanka in 1987 as the LTTE was on the verge of defeat and later sent a peacekeeping force to the northern and eastern areas of the island, the LTTE made a token surrender of arms.
''The issue now is the human shield of civilians the LTTE is surrounding itself with in the last bit of territory it holds,'' an Asian diplomat said on condition of anonymity. ''But for the civilians, the LTTE will be done for in days.''
The international community has expressed ''grave concern'' about the plight of the civilians trapped in the war zone and the Sri Lanka government has offered safe areas for civilians, but the LTTE has not cooperated.
The LTTE, which last week attempted an air attack on the capital Colombo, lost the last of its aircraft in the city and near the country's international airport.
But it reportedly killed 21 farmers in a remote village in the east last weekend.
Diplomats said the letter published Monday on the LTTE peace secretariat website was a clear attempt to get international assistance to persuade the Sri Lanka government to halt the military offensive in the interest of the endangered civilians.
The letter called on the global community ''to take action to stop the genocidal attacks on the Tamil people rather than calling for the laying down of arms of the LTTE.''
''We also wish to inform the international community that we are ready to discuss, cooperate and work together in all their efforts to bring about an immediate cease-fire and work towards a political settlement,'' it said.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 )|
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