Sri Lanka: Escalating acts of war must be stopped

National Peace Council of Sri Lanka
The suicide bomb attack at the army headquarters in Colombo is the latest in a series of major blows to the peace process.
This attack seriously injured the army commander, General Sarath Fonseka, killed 10 and injured 28 others. It has also expanded the theatre of hostilities to Colombo.
The National Peace Council condemns this suspected LTTE attack. It is especially deplorable as it comes at a time when the Norwegian facilitators were making a special effort to bring the government and LTTE back to the negotiating table.

The ceasefire still holds in a technical sense. But escalating acts of war make it akin to a dead letter. It is reported that Sri Lankan airforce and naval craft have been bombarding LTTE-held areas in the east in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on the army commander.

Many civilians have been killed and thousands are fleeing those areas as a result and are becoming refugees. There will be powerful forces that urge retaliation without regard to the vicious cycle that turns more vicious and causes the greatest havoc to civilian life. But we do not agree with this and also condemn such activities. We need to remember that peace did not come through war for more than 20 years. It only brought suffering to the people. It was this reality that gave birth to the Ceasefire Agreement of 2002.

We welcome President Mahinda Rajapakse's promise of patience in his speech to the nation where he also urged the people to hold to the same position. We also urge the people to remain calm in this tense and fearful time. We call on the LTTE to heed the sentiments of the people who want peace, and not a slide back to war. We demand that the government and LTTE should de-escalate the violence as the first step to an eventual return to the negotiating table.

What is important is not the short term military or psychological gains or losses of these attacks. When the government and LTTE signed the Ceasefire Agreement in February 2002 they made a commitment to fulfil certain obligations. If these obligations are fulfilled in letter and spirit, and with due deference to the rulings of the international monitors of the SLMM, we feel confident that peace talks aimed at a just resolution of the ethnic conflict can commence sooner rather than later.

Executive Director
On behalf of the Governing Council