Senior lawyer H. L. de Silva who represented the government at last week`s talks with the LTTE in Geneva reiterated yesterday that the Ceasefire Agreement was amended.
Dismissing LTTE claims that his interpretation of the joint communiqué was bizarre and ridiculous, Mr. de Silva gave specific points to underline his argument that the ceasefire agreement was amended.
In his statement, Mr. de Silva said:
?I refer to the Daily Mirror front page report headlined `LTTE strongly objects to Government claims`. The story is apparently based on certain answers given by me, as a member of the Government delegation to the Geneva talks, in response to questions raised at the news conference on February 26.
?It refers to complaints made by Anton Balasingham and S.P. Thamilselvan that the Government`s claim that the Ceasefire Agreement of February 2002 was amended was a distortion of the facts and further characterizing my interpretation of the joint communique issued at the end of the talks as amounting to an amendment of the original Agreement as `a bizarre interpretation` and as being `ridiculous and preposterous and as totally unacceptable to the LTTE`.
The following facts contradict the LTTE`s denial that the undertakings given by the two parties and recorded in the statement of February 23 constitute an amendment of the earlier agreement and demonstrate that this interpretation is unimpeachable.
(1) The LTTE insisted that there should be specific mention (in the Joint Communiqué) to the Ceasefire Agreement (meaning the document) and that a reference to the ceasefire alone was insufficient. The facilitator too was insistent on this. So there can be no doubt that we were focusing on the earlier document in the joint statement.
(2) Both Parties confirmed in the Joint Statement that they
would ?fully co-operate and respect the rulings of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission?. The CFA did not contain such a specific undertaking and was a new demand and in our view considered necessary in the light of instances when the LTTE defied such rulings.
(3) The LTTE in the Joint Statement pledged its ?commitment to take all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no intimidation, acts of violence, abductions or killings?. The express mention of killings and acts of violence in a broader and wider context in the Joint Statement than in the context of ?military operations? (as in Article 1.2 of the CFA) and the reference to ?all necessary measures? imposed a more onerous obligation.
(4) The right of the parties to take ?all necessary measures? was more comprehensive in that it extended beyond acts of direct infringement by either party and included even acts done at their instigation or with their acquiescence by others.
(5) The rights of the Government to take all necessary measures to ensure that no armed group or person, other than the Government security forces, will carry arms or conduct armed operations in accordance with the CFA, included the LTTE and civilians as well, which was not in the original CFA. An additional provision which is supplemental in character is an amendment, though the original text is not specifically altered.
(6) The SLMM was by the agreed statement empowered to report on the implementation of the agreements which is also an additional provision not contained in the earlier CFA.
From the foregoing it will be obvious that they are changes concerning the respective rights and duties of parties which are not specifically mentioned in the earlier CFA and gives that document greater clarity. The concept of an amendment is not confined to changes made to the original text in express terms but embraces implied changes as well.
The LTTE in advance of the Geneva talks stressed the need for the CFA to be strengthened. How can anything be strengthened unless the perceived infirmities and weaknesses be remedied?
Your readers will now appreciate that there was no warrant for the frenzied outburst from the two LTTE delegates, which were apparently intended to allay the fears and anxieties of those in seclusion and were without foundation.?