LTTE, main violator of CFA - SCOPP
Interview with Kethesh Loganathan, Deputy Secretary General, SCOPP,
on the CFA, Geneva 2, Karuna factor, etc.
Q: In the wake of increasing ceasefire violations by the LTTE, and
armed forces retaliation, is the Peace Secretariat becoming irrelevant?
A: The functions of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace
Process (SCOPP) or commonly known as the Peace Secretariat is not
restricted to providing infrastructural and knowledge support to peace
talks or what is known as 'Track One Negotiations', although that is one
of its key functions.
However, Peace Talks is only one element of the peace process, the
other elements being the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) and initiatives at
reconciliation. In this sense, the Peace Secretariat is the principal
state agency that liaises with both Norway as the facilitator and the
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in monitoring the CFA. The Peace
Secretariat also strives to engage civil society in the collective
efforts at bringing about reconciliation between communities.
Further, since the peace-making process is internationalised, the
Peace Secretariat is also involved in engaging the international
community and keeping it informed of the Government's approach to the
peace process as well as the challenges it faces. SCOPP is also often
approached by researchers and students, local as well as foreign,
involved in conflict and peace studies.
In short, the Peace Secretariat's relevance or irrelevance is not
determined solely by the vagaries of Track One Negotiations or the
fragility of the ceasefire itself. Peace-making and peace-building is a
long-drawn and a hazardous process that goes beyond events.
Q: Isn't the Tamil minority in the North-East, in particular, and all
communities in the rest of the county in general, in some danger now of
enduring another round of bloodletting as a result of hostilities
resumed by the LTTE?
A: Certainly. The 'no war, no peace' situation that is characteristic
of our peace process has now escalated into high-intensity hostilities.
If not checked, it could easily spiral out of control and lead to an
If that were to happen it will affect all communities in a manner
that would be unprecedented. We are presently at the edge of a precipice
and it is imperative that the parties should step back and take a deep
breath before deciding on the next course of action. In this the LTTE,
which precipitated the present highly explosive and volatile military
situation, has the primary responsibility in stepping back from its
Q: In your opinion, how much of control does the Government maintain
over the 'Karuna' group? How tangible a factor is this group in the
A: The Karuna factor is largely the creation of the LTTE. It is the
result of the failure of the LTTE leadership to resolve their internal
differences democratically and non-violently. I do not believe that the
Government has any control over the Karuna forces, although it is
obvious that under the prevailing high-intensity military conflict there
could be a coincidence of interest.
However, that does not make the Karuna forces a "paramilitary" as
claimed by the LTTE. But, one cannot rule out the possibilities for the
Government to prevail on Karuna to transform from a military mode to a
It is generally assumed that the spoilers to a peace process has
necessarily got to be a 'third force'. What is not recognised is that
the parties to negotiations could themselves be spoilers, as is evident
in the case of the LTTE. However, there is no doubt that if the Karuna
factor is not handled correctly and factored into the peace process, it
could emerge as a spoiler.
Q: Isn't it part of the function of the Peace Secretariat to induce
the international community to rein in the LTTE in its perilous path
towards endangering the longstanding ceasefire? What has been done
toward that end?
A: As I had indicated earlier, the Peace Secretariat does engage the
international community on the Government's approach to the peace
process and the possibilities, challenges and problems that it entails.
However, it is the Foreign Ministry and our Missions abroad which have a
primary responsibility in this regard.
Q: As a minority Tamil working for the Peace Secretariat - what would
you say? Have you given up hopes for peace?
A: Anyone engaged in peace-making, irrespective of whether that
person belongs to the majority or minority community, cannot allow
themselves to be overwhelmed by a seemingly hopeless situation. I also
wish to stress that the Peace Secretariat represents the aspirations of
all nationalities and communities for a just and a durable peace.
Q: What caused the breakdown of Geneva 2? In hindsight, is there
anything the Peace Secretariat could have done better to ensure that
Geneva 2 (the negotiations) got off the ground?
A: The Peace Secretariat has done its utmost in not only facilitating
the preparatory meetings for the Government delegation in the run-up to
Geneva 2, but in also working out different options relating to the
conditionality of the LTTE that transportation be provided to its
Eastern leaders to move to the North so as to enable the LTTE leadership
to have its own internal consultations and preparatory meetings for
Geneva 2. It is indeed ironic that the LTTE should seek to attack
unarmed troops sea carrier at precisely the time when all efforts are
being taken to ensure the safe passage of LTTE leaders.
The obstacles in the way of Geneva 2 comes largely from the LTTE,
although it would be absurd to claim that the Government or its Peace
Secretariat are infallible. It is important that we look at a range of
The emerging policy is that one should go beyond mere ceasefire talks
to peace talks and broaden the agenda so that the parties begin to
engage each other not only on matters relating to de-escalation and
normalisation, but also on matters pertaining to the humanitarian and
human rights issues, as well as democratisation and devolution of power.
Q: Some retaliatory strikes are now being made by the forces against
LTTE strikes. These are sometimes characterised in the media as
ceasefire violations. How do you see this phenomenon?
A: It is obvious that while the parties have not unilaterally or by
mutual consent withdrawn from the ceasefire agreement, there is a
war-like situation on the ground precipitated largely by the LTTE. The
retaliatory strikes by the forces which technically may constitute a
violation of the CFA, are seen by the Government as a response to a
virtual undeclared war being waged by the LTTE and as a possible
Q: It is the LTTE that is violating the ceasefire. Would you agree
with that or not? If so, do you think the weight of the world opinion
should turn sufficiently against the organisation to make a new "Eelam
war'' utterly untenable?'
A: The LTTE even before Geneva 1 and from the inception of the CFA
has been the main violator of the CFA. That is also accepted not only by
the SLMM, but by the international community as well.
The issue is whether the LTTE cares for world opinion, leave alone
caring for the opinion of the people that it claims to solely represent.
The Government is already on record of calling for sanctions against
the LTTE, including an international ban. While world opinion
understands the challenges facing the Government, it seems to be caught
up in a dilemma as to whether they would lose their leverage, namely the
threat of a ban, if that ban is actually imposed. The question then
being asked is what next? Perhaps it is a false question.
Q: What would you do in the Peace Secretariat, if 'war' (hostilities)
A: Prosecuting war, if it is thrust on them, is the primary
responsibility of the security forces and the defence establishment. The
primary responsibility of the Peace Secretariat is to keep the options
of peace open all the time. But by peace we do not mean only the absence
of war, but peace with dignity, democracy and devolution of power for
all peoples of Sri Lanka.