Is it true that Tamils are dividing?
"EU classification of the Liberation Tigers as terrorists is one-sided"
derStandard.at: Officially, there is a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, but another high-ranking military man was killed in an attack a few days ago. Why are the Liberation Tigers breaking the truce?
Suthagar Sivaganam: So far, the government has not been able to clearly prove that the LTTE is involved in this matter. Again and again she tries to put the blame on the LTTE in order to discredit them. The latest attack is a good example of the government's no hesitation in blaming the LTTE.
There is ample evidence that Sri Lankan troops broke the ceasefire, just a few weeks ago soldiers murdered two children and their parents in cold blood.
derStandard.at: Kofi Annan recently warned that a new civil war could be imminent. Is history repeating itself?
Sivaganam: It is very unfortunate to hear that a new civil war is inevitable. We Tamils don't want history to repeat itself. The Sinhalese government should give up its double standards and show us that they really want peace.
derStandard.at: What are the Tamils' concerns?
Sivaganam: The Tamils want to have an independent country and want to determine their own future. We have learned from the past that the Sinhalese government can never guarantee our rights.
derStandard.at: What is the opinion of the Tamil population? Does the LTTE still have support here?
Sivaganam: The majority of Tamils abroad see the LTTE as their political representative.
More than 70,000 people died during the 20-year civil war, over 90 percent of whom were Tamils. Sri Lanka is still portrayed as a vacation paradise. But anyone who has been to the northeast of the country knows very well that the native Tamils live in fear every day. Many have lost their homes and are living in refugee camps.
In addition, the Tamil people live scattered all over the world: in Canada there are over 250,000 Tamils, in England almost 200,000, in India over 150,000 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, and in Germany there are also around 65,000 Tamils. Whether or not they support the LTTE is another question. But we can never trust the Sri Lankan government.
derStandard.at: Do you think the LTTE attacks are justified?
Sivaganam: The LTTE has always condemned attacks on civilians. I will not support or justify such attacks.
derStandard.at: In the attack in April, a group other than the LTTE called the High Security Zone Residents' Liberation Force (HSZRLF) took responsibility. Was there really a different group at work or is the LTTE just trying to distract?
Sivaganam: Unfortunately, there is not much that can be said about this group because it has not been precisely identified. But it is clear to us that this group is fighting the repression of Sri Lankan soldiers, so it can be called an anti-government group.
The soldiers humiliate the Tamil youth or men, and Tamil women are regularly sexually harassed in the soldiers-controlled areas. Many are suspected and shot for no reason. In the past few months, a large number of Tamils in and outside of Jaffna have been shot and afterwards the government says "they were LTTE members". This is how the government has always justified its actions in the past. This creates the breeding ground for the formation of a group.
derStandard.at: The LTTE recently turned down an offer from the government to talk, don't they want peace?
Sivaganam: The government and much of the Western media have misinterpreted the whole thing: in reality, the LTTE was and is always ready to negotiate. During the last negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland, a number of demands were made on the government, including disarming the paramilitaries.
Instead, the government continues to support paramilitary. In my opinion, the paramilitary has made the situation more complex and killed our hope.
derStandard.at: The EU classifies the "Tamil Tigers" as a terrorist organization, the LTTE threatened with an "open war" after the classification. Isn't that a debunking response to such a classification?
Sivaganam: This decision is one-sided and we Tamils cannot understand it. If we carefully analyze the background and the past, it will become clear to everyone who deserves this title. It is a shame that the EU has not retained its neutrality.
The LTTE has always said that the classification will make the peace process and the situation worse.
derStandard.at: What would be the prerequisites for an end to violence? How do you rate the chances that the situation will calm down again?
Sivaganam: The government should disarm or abolish paramilitary. They should accept the LTTE as Tamil representation and negotiate honestly with the LTTE. In addition, the SL soldiers are said to give up the occupied residential areas of the Tamils in Jaffna, where they have set up their military base.It is not easy to say whether the situation will calm down. At the moment everything looks bleak.
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