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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 18:59 GMT
Excerpts from Tamil Tiger leader's address
Tamil Tiger soldiers with child in Omanthai
Hopes for peace in Sri Lanka are growing
Excerpts from a speech by Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran to mark "Martyr's Day", in which he signalled for the first time that the rebels could give up their long-standing demand for independence.

Our liberation struggle has reached a new historical turning point and entered into a new developmental stage. We are facing a new challenge.


But if our people's right to self-determination is denied... we have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent state

We have ceased armed hostilities and are now engaged in a peaceful negotiating process to resolve the ethnic conflict.

If a reasonable settlement to the Tamil national question could be realised by peaceful means we will make every endeavour, with honesty and sincerity to pursue that path.

Our political objective is to ensure that our people should live in freedom and dignity in their homeland enjoying the right of self-rule.

On previous talks

We have participated in peace negotiations at different places, at different times in different historical circumstances

All previous attempts to a negotiated political settlement ended in fiasco.


There was a misconception on the part of the former regime that we were hesitant to take up the fundamental political issues

These failures could only be attributed to the hard-line attitude and deceitful political approaches of previous Sri Lanka governments.

Now, the government of Mr Ranil Wickramasinghe is attempting to resolve the problems of the Tamils with sincerity and courage.

On current peace process

Furthermore, the current cease-fire, built on a strong foundation and the sincere efforts of the international monitoring mission to further stabilise it, has helped to consolidate the peace process.

The capable and skilful facilitation by the Norwegians has also contributed to the steady progress of the current peace talks.


The ideal approach is to move the talks forward, systematically, step by step...

Above all, the concern, interests and enthusiasm shown by the international community has given hope and encouragement to both parties.

The ideal approach is to move the talks forward, systematically, step by step, standing on a strong foundation of peace and building mutual confidence.

As a consequence of the brutal war that continued incessantly for more than two decades, our people face enormous existential problems.

It is a monumental humanitarian problem.

It has always been our position that the urgent and immediate problems of our people should be resolved during the early stages of the peace talks.

The former government of Sri Lanka rejected our position. As a result the peace talks broke down.

There was a misconception on the part of the former regime that we were hesitant to take up the fundamental political issues and insisted on the resolution of the immediate problems.

But the present government has been taking concrete actions redressing the urgent and immediate problems of our people.

This is a positive development.

On autonomy

The objective of our struggle is based on the concept of self-determination as articulated in the UN Charter and other instruments.

We have always been consistent with our policy with regard to our struggle for self-determination.

Tamil homeland, Tamil nationality and Tamils' right to self-determination are the fundamentals underlying our political struggle.

Tamils constitute themselves as a people, or rather as a national formation since they possess a distinct language, culture and history with a clearly defined homeland and a consciousness of their ethnic identity.

As a distinct people they are entitled to the right to self-determination.

The Tamil people want to live in freedom and dignity in their own lands, in their historically constituted traditional lands without the domination of external forces.

We are prepared to consider favourably a political framework that offers substantial regional autonomy and self-government in our homeland on the basis of our right to internal self-determination.

But if our people's right to self-determination is denied and our demand for regional self-rule is rejected we have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent state.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Frances Harrison
"Mr Prabhakaran said it was his deepest desire that the current peace talks would succeed"

Peace efforts

Background

BBC SINHALA SERVICE

BBC TAMIL SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

27 Nov 02 | South Asia
26 Nov 02 | South Asia
03 Nov 02 | South Asia
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