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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Subversive war continues to rage in S.Lanka - envoy

ReliefWeb - Document Preview: Source: Reuters Foundation
Date: 15 Oct 2005

By Simon Gardner

COLOMBO, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's military and Tamil Tiger rebels are locked in a subversive war despite a 2002 truce, a top Norwegian envoy has warned, calling on both sides to resume stalled talks to forge a lasting end to 20 years of civil strife.

Major Gen. Trond Furuhovde, the former head of the team of Nordic monitors who oversee the island's shaky truce, appealed to the state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to exercise self-discipline to ensure the ceasefire does not disintegrate.

"This is subversive war," Furuhovde, visiting Sri Lanka as a special representative of Norway's government, told Sri Lanka's Foreign Correspondents' Association late on Friday.

"Both parties are involved in this," he added. "It is alarming. All war is alarming. This is dangerous for the ceasefire and for the country."

Dozens of police, soldiers and rebel cadres have been killed in a rash of attacks in recent months, culminating in the August assassination of the island's foreign minister, but monitors have been unable to pin down proof on who is responsible.

The Tigers and the military alike deny any involvement in the killings, which continued during Furuhovde's week-long visit, each blaming the violence on the other.

"The parties, as they are involved in a subversive warfare, have to show self-discipline. We believe that peace talks is an alternative which is very useful," Furuhovde said. "There is no military solution to this conflict, that's for sure."

"We have seen similar warfare going on Iraq, the transformation of war into something else," he added. "What we see now, it's not only criminal acts, it's also acts of war."

The Tigers have strongly denied assassinating Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, but analysts, observers and diplomats dismiss the denial as a stock disclaimer and the European Union last month slapped a travel ban on the rebels.

The ban is a major setback for the Tigers, who are listed as a terrorist group by several countries including the United States and Britain and are trying to muster international support for their demand for interim self-rule.

The government and the Tigers are deadlocked over where to hold crunch peace talks, but little progress is expected until after a Nov. 17 presidential election.

However, observers expect the ceasefire to hold, and say any return to a full-scale war that has killed more than 64,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more is unlikely.

Visiting international human rights advisor Ian Martin, who is tasked with drawing up a human rights roadmap for Sri Lanka, believes introducing an international body with powers to investigate the ongoing killings could be the answer.

"The political killings are one of the most serious human rights issues, but the key problem there is to identify properly where responsibility lies and that's why I think an impartial mechanism could be of assistance," Martin told reporters.

"I raised the question of whether some international investigative capacity, the neutrality of which might be accepted by both parties, might not be useful," he added, referring to talks he held separately with the Tigers and the government.

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