Tuesday, Nov 04, 2003
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By V.S. Sambandan
While they welcomed the proposals for "meeting the aspirations of the Tamils," the leaders expressed dismay that there is "no provision for pluralistic democracy''.
The Tamil United Liberation Front, the LTTE and four other militant groups the Peoples' Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam, the Eelam Peoples' Revolutionary Liberation Front, the Eelam Revolutionary Students' Organisation and the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation attended the India-mediated talks and came out with the Thimpu Principles on July 13, 1985.
"Though the counter-proposals do not provide for democracy and pluralism, we welcome them, as they meet the aspirations of the Tamil people," D. Sithadthan, president, PLOTE, who represented his party in Thimpu, said. The PLOTE, now a Parliamentary party, is not a part of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance and backs the President, Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Since 1985 the LTTE and other Tamil parties demanded a solution consistent with three Thimpu principles recognition of Tamils as a nationality, the right to a traditional homeland and the right to self-determination. The counter-proposals "encompass a major portion of the Thimpu principles. They are still relevant and any final settlement must reflect them," Mr. Sithadthan said.
On the possible southern response to the counter-proposals, he expects the same degree of opposition as in 1985.
Another former militant leader, Shankar Raje, the EROS delegate at Thimpu, however, sees a political change from the 1980s with a transformation from "war for peace'' to "negotiations for peace."
The counter-proposals address "most of the aspirations of the Tamil people'' and "if we can achieve even 75 or 80 per cent, it will be a great step forward'' he said, adding "though there is no mention of any pluralistic approach, I welcome the counter-proposals." The Thimpu Principles "are being given flesh and substance to a large extent."
Mr. Raje, who wants inclusiveness in the negotiations, would have been "much happier had it also entailed space for differing political opinion and an inclusive pan-Tamil approach. We hope there is still time for such a process."
On the opposition by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna that the proposals were a stepping-stone to a separate Eelam Mr. Raje said that they should consider "what would be the possibilities if this is not granted'' and "see which path would pave the shorter route to Eelam."
The general secretary of the TULF, R. Sampanthan, the only other Thimpu delegate still in active politics, is the Parliamentary head of the TNA, which endorses the LTTE's stand.
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