A very sad day not just for all Tamils but for all Sri Lankans (SL)…the Sri Lankan government today officially pulled out of the ceasefire. Norway says Nordic ceasefire officials will likely leave SL…which means more ‘neutral unbiased’ people to witness the atrocity faced by Tamil people, and more chance for killing and abductions to take place against Tamils and be missed by the few eyes left watching…
Sri Lanka ends ceasefire with Tamil Tigers
02 Jan 2008 21:09:33 GMT
(Adds probable withdrawal of Nordic monitoring mission, paragraphs 6-9)
By Ranga Sirilal
COLOMBO, Jan 2 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s government decided on Wednesday to annul a six-year ceasefire agreement with the Tamil Tigers which would allow a full-scale military campaign to recapture the rebels’ de facto state in the north of the island.
The truce has been dead on the ground since a new phase of a two-decade civil war opened in early 2006 and the announcement came hours after suspected Tiger rebels bombed a military bus in downtown Colombo, killing four people and wounding 24.
“The government has decided to withdraw from the ceasefire,” Lakshman Hulugalle, director general of the Media Centre for National Security, told Reuters.
“Today, at a cabinet meeting, it was decided now the government will give notice to the other party, because there is a clause that says we have to give 14 days’ notice.”
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are fighting for an independent state in north and east Sri Lanka, were not immediately available for comment.
Norway, which brokered the 2002 truce, said a Nordic mission monitoring the ceasefire would now “most likely” be withdrawn.
Development Aid Minister Erik Solheim told Reuters that Norway was still willing to serve as facilitator of peace talks so long as it enjoyed the confidence of the two sides.
But Solheim said he feared the Sri Lankan government’s decision to end the ceasefire, which he called a “negative and sad development”, would lead to an escalation of violence.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said last month he might outlaw the rebels if they continued to mount large-scale attacks, because there was “a limit to our patience, our tolerance”.
CEASEFIRE “A SHAM”
Sri Lanka’s defence secretary, Rajapaksa’s brother Gotabaya, called on Saturday for an end to the ceasefire pact. He said it had been violated so many times it had become a sham.
Buoyed by battlefield successes in the east, the Rajapaksa brothers have vowed to defeat the rebels militarily.
Air force jets bombed a suspected rebel sea wing base and a logistics base in the island’s north on Wednesday, which the military said killed two senior insurgents.
Reclusive rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran said in November he had no hope of a political settlement with the government after the chief of his political wing was killed in an air force bombing raid.
“We already knew the ceasefire was over,” said Jennifer Harbison, Asia desk head for London-based consultancy Control Risks.
“As long as the war follows the pattern it did before 2002, the priority for foreign businesses is simply to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Analysts say there is no clear winner on the horizon and fear the war could grind on for years. More than 5,000 people have been killed since early 2006, taking the death toll since the war erupted in 1983 to around 70,000.
The Tigers have been outlawed as a terrorist group by a host of nations, including the United States, Britain and the European Union, after a series of attacks and assassinations.
A previous government lifted a ban on the Tigers in 2002, paving the way for direct peace talks. (Additional reporting by Peter Apps in London and John Acher in Oslo; writing by Simon Gardner; editing by Robert Woodward)
Norway says Sri Lanka monitors likely to leave
02 Jan 2008 21:03:10 GMT
OSLO, Jan 2 (Reuters) – Peace mediator Norway said on Wednesday that a Nordic ceasefire monitoring mission was likely to be withdrawn from Sri Lanka after Colombo said it would annul a 2002 truce with the rebel Tamil Tigers.
Norway’s Development Aid Minister Erik Solheim, who brokered the six-year-old ceasefire, said Norway was willing to continue to serve as facilitator of Sri Lankan peace talks as long as it enjoyed the confidence of the parties to the conflict.
“I think it is most likely that it will have to be withdrawn,” Solheim told Reuters, referring to the Nordic monitoring mission. “Its presence in Sri Lanka is based on the ceasefire agreement.”
Solheim said he feared the Sri Lankan government’s decision to end the ceasefire would lead to an escalation of violence in the Indian Ocean island. He called it a “negative and sad development.”
The truce has been dead on the ground since a new phase of the two-decade civil war began in early 2006. (Reporting by John Acher, Editing by Matthew Jones)