Colombo, Sri Lanka — President Junius Jayewardene declared Saturday that his government would not give in to terrorism by Tamil separatists, and that “Gift’s war, it must be war.”
Tamil rebels, meanwhile, claimed Sri Lankan soldiers had unleashed a wave of violence in Trincomalee district in the past two days, burning at least 100 shops and forcing members of the Tamil minority to flee their homes.
In India, the Press Trust of India news agency said Tamil rebels based in the southern city of Madras claimed soldiers killed 24 civilians. The charge could not be independently verified.
India on Saturday deported two top Tamil rebel leaders who opposed Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s initiative to revive stalled peace talks between the militants and Jayewardene’s government. Tamil militants denounced the expulsion of Anton S. Balasingham and S. C. Chandrahasan.
India had also ordered deported a third rebel leader, N. Sathyendra, but immigration authorities failed to find him in Madras. Rebel source said Sathyendra left for Bombay on Thursday saying he was going to Britain.
India took the action after Madras based Tamil leaders ignored Gandhi’s invitation to discuss ways to revive peace talks with their government.
Rebel delegates, charging soldiers killed hundreds of civilians in Sri Lanka, walked out of the peace talks in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Tamil militant groups moved their headquarters to. Madras after a 1983 military crackdown in Sri Lanka. The island nation lies only 18 miles off the coast of India, and Tamils have close ethnic and cultural ties to India’s Tamil Nadu state, of which Madras is the capital.
Gandhi reportedly was preparing to meet with other rebel representatives to ask them to resume negotiations. Rebel sources said the meeting would likely be before Monday. Indian government officials could not be reached to confirm the meeting.
Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict has claimed at least 1,000 lives in two years. The predominantly Hindu Tamils make up about 18 percent of Sri Lanka’s 15 million people, and the predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese, about 74 percent.
The rebels seek greater autonomy in the northern and eastern provinces, where most Tamils live.
An AirIndia spokesman said Balasingham, one of the three rebel leaders ordered deported from India, was bound for London. Balasingham, who holds a British passport, is spokesman for a coalition of four guerrilla groups.
Chandrahasan, a prominent Sri Lankan attorney and leader of the “Proteg” human rights group, was given a ticket for New York where he has relative, the official said. It was not known if the United States would accept the Sri Lankan national.
At a speech in central Kotmale province, Jayewardene said the government was ready to meet the Tamil’s legitimate grievances, but added: “We cannot and will not compromise with violence.”
The government has already recognized Tamil as a national language, eased the entry of Tamils into universities, begun recruiting Tamils into public service in proportion to their numbers, and formed district councils giving the Tamils greater say in their own affairs, Jayewardene said.
Article extracted from this publication >> August 30, 1985