Centre for Policy Alternatives on 24 August, 2007

CPA condemns killing of Lakshman Kadirgamar and calls for a principled peace process

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CPA CONDEMNS KILLING OF LAKSHMAN KADIRGAMAR
AND CALLS FOR A PRINCIPLED PEACE PROCESS

The brutal and cowardly assassination of Sri Lanka?s Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar is a grim reminder to all that the three years following the ceasefire agreement has not gone beyond the state of a `negative peace? or what is called a `No War No Peace? syndrome. CPA unequivocally condemns the assassination and extends our condolences to Mr Kadirgamar?s family. Mr Kadirgamar was a champion of the unity of Sri Lanka, a just, democratic and durable peace, and universally recognized as the best Foreign Minister this country has had. His brutal assassination tragically underscores the obstacles to making peace in Sri Lanka and the imperative of addressing them as a matter of the utmost priority.

While an all-out war was brought to a halt by the ceasefire agreement more than three years ago and six sessions of negotiations took place between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) before they were suspended over two years ago, violations of the ceasefire agreement with a direct and adverse impact on the state of human rights and human security, continue unabated. Political killings and child conscription with impunity, in particular, despite condemnations from civil society and the international community, have weighed heavily on the peace process and eroded broad support for even ?negative? peace.

In this, the LTTE has to shoulder the primary responsibility just as much as the assassination of Lakshman Kadirgamar has all the hallmarks of an LTTE act of terrorism, despite its arrogant denials. The burden now lies with the GoSL and the investigating authorities to come out with conclusive evidence that can stand the test of judicial proceedings and the due process of law. Furthermore, they must take all measures to apprehend, convict and punish the perpetrators of this dastardly crime, including the conspirators and, in particular, those who masterminded it. The fact that the LTTE is a party to the peace process should not in any way prevent or impede the investigative and judicial process. And, the LTTE, if as it claims was not responsible, must surely cooperate with the investigations rather than ?challenge? the authorities to find the culprits.

In addition to the above, a primary responsibility lies with the GoSL and the LTTE to engage in principled negotiations and to conduct the peace process in a manner that is sustainable and open to scrutiny. The battle between State sovereignty and LTTE?s pursuit of legitimacy and a Tamil Statehood, has relegated to the background the critical task of finding a just and durable solution to the Ethnic Question that involves all legitimate stakeholders in the country and which is based on power-sharing, autonomy, democracy and human rights.

Unfortunately, the peace process has hardly moved beyond the stage of the big guns falling silent, while attacks on human rights and human security continue unabated and with impunity. The peace process has also not moved beyond the exploration of interim structures to deal with immediate humanitarian needs to addressing the root causes of the conflict and to redressing them. We consider the peace process to be flawed and call on Norway to consider redesigning it in consultation with the GoSL, LTTE and all legitimate stakeholders in this country. In this

context we welcome the possibility of the signatories of the Cease fire Agreement meeting to review it. However, we note that a fundamental review and redesign of the peace process is crucially necessary.

This should take into account the need for principled negotiations to advance the process to a conclusion, rather than rely on a series of interim and ad hoc measures. The ultimate responsibility lies not only with the parties to the conflict and negotiations (i.e. GoSL, LTTE and Norway) but with all sections of the Sri Lankan polity and civil society to en
CPA condemns killing of Lakshman Kadirgamar and calls for a principled peace process
CPA condemns killing of Lakshman Kadirgamar and calls for a principled peace process