Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Talks At Thimpu

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi collected a coterie of ‘special advisors’ around him by-passing officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in dealing with the island’s ethnic problem. Especially, he ignored A,P. Venkadeswaran, foreign secretary of India who was then forced to resign his office. Rajiv Gandhi’s antagonism towards Venkadeswaran might be due to the fact he was a Tamil. This led to a situation where Rajiv Gandhi’s own whims and fancies became India’s official foreign policy.

Right from the beginning of 1985, the Indian government started applying undue pressure on the LTTE and Pirabaharan to stop guerilla attacks against the army. It arranged a cease- fire between the Tigers and the Sinhala armed forces beginning 18th June 1985. Under Indian government mediation, negotiations began at Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. All the Tamil liberation groups-ranging from the moderate TULF to the LTTE - jointly enunciated “four cardinal principles” that should form the basis on which a solution to the Tamil national problem should be found. The "four cardinal principles" better known as Thimpu principles in Tamil political discourse are:

It is our considered view that any meaningful solution to the Tamil national question must be based on the following four cardinal principles:

1.recognition of the Tamils of Ceylon as a nation;
2.recognition of the existence of an identified homeland for the Tamils in Ceylon;
3.recognition of the right of self determination of the Tamil nation; and
4.recognition of the right to citizenship and the fundamental rights of all Tamils in Ceylon.
The Sri Lankan Government headed by J. R. Jayawardene rejected these proposals in toto resulting in a stalemate in talks. In the meantime, the Sinhalese army breached the cease-fire by killing more than 200 Tamil civilians in Trincomalee and Vavuniya. The talks then collapsed for good when Tamil representatives withdrew. During this time Pirabaharan was having consultation with his area commanders about the cease-fire, the talks taking place at Thimpu and future plan of action.

Following the failure of the talks at Thimpu, Anton Balasingham, political advisor to LTTE, was forcibly expelled from India by the Indian authorities. This action brought about deep cleavage and sharp conflict between Pirabaharan and the Indian government. Yet Pirabaharan made clear the LTTE's stand towards India. He declared "We need India's goodwill and assistance. At the same we do not like India imposing its decisions on the people of Tamil Eelam, against their wishes. Our people have the inalienable right to decide about their own future."

But the Indian Prime Minister and the Indian government failed to comprehend Pirabaharan’s commitment and his determination to liberate the people of Tamil Eelam. In October, 1986 the Indian government pressured the Tamil Nadu Chief minister to confiscate LTTE’s communication equipment. The Tamil Nadu police arrested Pirabaharan and other LTTE cadres, took them to the police station and locked them up. They were treated like ordinary criminals by the police.

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