The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

LTTE confirms ceasefire offer

LTTETamil Tiger rebels told the U.N. and international community on Monday that they are willing to accept a ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government, as Asia’s longest-running civil war may be nearing an end.

But the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rejected calls to lay down arms and surrender, saying keeping their weapons is necessary to ensure survival for the ethnic minority Tamil people in the Indian Ocean island nation.

The rebels said in a letter to the United Nations and international community — including the United States, European Union, Japan and Norway –that Sri Lankan forces use heavy weapons like artillery and multi-barreled rocket launchers which the Tigers say are killing 50 to 100 Tamil civilians daily.

“Already more than 2,000 civilians have been killed and more than 5,000 have been injured. It is painful to see the world maintaining silence on this immense human suffering as if it is amused by what is going on,” said Balasingham Nadesan, the political head of the rebels.

“In this situation, the LTTE is ready to accept the calls for a ceasefire issued by the international community with the good intention of ending the human suffering. The LTTE desires that this effort for a ceasefire … grow further into peace talks to seek a political solution to the ethnic conflict.”

The United States, EU, Japan and Norway, which have been key players in the tattered peace process, urged the Tigers in early February to consider surrendering, renounce violence, accept a government offer of amnesty and participate “as a political party in a process to achieve a just and lasting political solution.”

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But the rebel statement said the international community should act to stop “the genocidal attacks on the Tamil people” rather than call for the laying down of the arms, and should also press the Sri Lankan Government to seek a political solution.

Sri Lanka denies rebel claims civilians are being targeted, and says it is the rebels themselves who are committing genocide by not allowing Tamil civilians to leave and depriving them of their rights.

“They are the people causing destruction to the entire Tamil community by killing thousands … including Tamil political opponents,” said defense spokesman and government minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

The Tiger statement, a copy of which was emailed to Reuters, came after the military shot down two Tiger airplanes on Friday as they raided the capital Colombo. Two people were killed and at least 53 wounded when one slammed into a government building.

The attack showed the Tigers still had the ability to strike far from the shrinking war zone, where troops have rapidly encircled them in just 73 sq km (28 sq miles) of jungle in the drive to end the separatist war that began in 1983.

But the military proved it could down planes from a ramshackle Tiger air squadron that had flown nine previous sorties since debuting in 2007.

More than 50,000 soldiers surround the Tigers in the northern war zone. Estimates of the rebel fighters still in action range from 500 to 2,000. The military says heavy fighting continues.

Tens of thousands of civilians are trapped in the zone, many forcibly kept there by the LTTE and others fearing heavy shelling, according to people who have escaped.

Source: Reuters

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