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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka's Broken Pacts & Evasive Proposals > The Thimpu Talks - July/August 1985 > Introduction > Initial cease fire proposal by Eelam National Liberation Front in April/May 1985 > Terms of cease-fire proposed by Indian Government Agencies > Joint response by Eelam National Liberation Front to cease-fire proposals, 18 June 1985 > Tamil Liberation Organisations refuse to participate in talks with Sri Lanka, 29 June 1985 > Diary of Phase I of Thimpu Talks, 8 July 1985 to 13 July 1985 > Joint Statement by Tamil Liberation Organisations on cease-fire violations by Sri Lanka, 9 July 1985 > First Proposal by Sri Lanka Delegation, 10 July 1985 > Joint Statement by Tamil Liberation Organisations, 12 July 1985 > Response by Sri Lanka Delegation, 13 July 1985 > The Thimpu Declaration,13 July 1985 > Opening statement by Sri Lanka delegation - Phase II - 12 August 1985 > Joint Response of Tamil Delegation, 13 August 1985 > Statement by Nadesan Satyendra on behalf of Tamil Delegation,14 August 1985 > Joint Statement by Tamil delegation on recognition of representative character, 15 August 1985 > Response of Sri Lanka delegation on recognition, 15 August 1985 > New Proposals by Sri Lanka Delegation, 16 August 1985 > Joint Response by Tamil Delegation to new proposals, 17 August 1985 > Joint Statement by Tamil Delegation immediately prior to walk out, 17 August 1985 > A Brief Note on the Thimpu Talks - David Selbourne, Oxford, August 1985 > S.Sivanayagam on the Thimpu Talks - The Sinhala- Tamil Conflict & the India Factor > Thimpu Declaration: The Path of Reason - Nadesan Satyendra, 1987
Thimpu Talks - July/August 1985
Diary of Phase I of Talks - 8 to 13 July 1985
The Tamil Delegation consisted of representatives from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), Eelam Revolutionary Organisation (EROS), Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam PLOTE) and Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). The LTTE, EPRLF, TELO and EROS were also constituent members of the Eelam National Liberation Front.
Mr.Anton and Mr.Thilakar represented LTTE. Mr.A.Varadarajah Perumal and Mr.L.Ketheeswaran represented EPRLF. Mr.Charles represented TELO. Mr.Shankar and Mr.Ratnasabapathy represented EROS. PLOTE was represented by Mr.Vasudeva and Mr.Sitharthan. The TULF delegates were Mr.M.Sivasithamparam, Mr.A.Amirthalingam and Mr.R.Sampanthan.
Formal session. Talks are inaugurated by Bhutan's Minister for External Affairs. First indication that a virtually unanimous position is being taken on the Tamil side, when a representative of one of the militant liberation organisations speaks on behalf of all six Tamil organisations conveying thanks to the Bhutan Government for it's hospitality and arrangements.
Militant organisations bring up complaint of cease-fire violations and failure to fulfil promise by Colombo. Amirthalingam speaks on these and the substantive political issues. HW Jayewardene, responding to an observation on the level of the official delegation, declares that he has come with the full authority of the Sri Lankan President to conduct serious businesslike negotiations on a proposal to resolve the ethnic question once and for all. And that if the talks continue and progress is made, JR himself will come to Thimpu. Talks adjourn and reconvene in the afternoon, as HW Jayewardene communicates on the hotline with Colombo. He discloses in the afternoon session that Colombo will lift the Curfew in the Northern Province the next day and release 643 detainees within two days. HW Jayewardene outlines his 'new' proposal; it is immediately clear that it is the December 1984 offer. A Committee of eight (five from the official delegation, three from the Tamil side) is formed to prepare a report on the proceedings and submit it to the Bhutanese Government which will take the responsibility of releasing it in a suitable form.
HW Jayewardene elaborates on his proposal for "sharing power" with the Tamils: it is confirmed that it is a repetition, virtually in toto, of the draft legislation for the Tenth Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution and the Draft District and Provincial Council Bills presented to the All Party Conference on December 14, 1984. Namely, district and provincial councils with weak powers. Chief Minister and other Ministers will be nominated by the Sri Lankan President, with no executive powers on their own. Such "devolution" of power will be within the unitary constitutional and political framework. All Tamil representatives indicate it is way, way short of their expectations. TULF notes that it is the same old proposal, completely unacceptable. Tamil militants ask for a day's time to study the proposal as they did not participate in the All Party Conference. HW Jayewardene asks TULF to come up with an alternative if his proposal is so objectionable.
Talks in obvious trouble. Colombo alleges plot to assassinate the Sri Lankan President, which it foiled; links the plot to EROS, one of the military organisations participating in the talks; EROS and the others strongly deny and protest the charge. Exchange of information, complaints and explanations relating to the implementation of the cease-fire or four-phase peace plan. HW Jayewardene says his proposal can be taken as a "working basis" and the powers of the devolved units discussed across the table. The six Tamil organisations take the details of the powers, the questions of unit of devolution and structure of government should be straightened out. They indicate that the official proposal is far short of the expectations of the Tamil people. The Indian government dispatches Foreign Secretary Romesh Bhandari to Thimpu to prevent the talks from breaking off abrasively.
Joint statement by the six Tamil organisations rejecting the Sri Lankan Government's proposal for the "devolution of power". Militants ask for recognition of the right to self-determination and for a good enough offer if it is to be within the framework of a united Sri Lanka. Allege that the proposal brought by the leader of the Sri Lankan delegation is "like humiliating the Tamil people". Amirthalingam stresses the completely unacceptable nature of the offer and recalls the earlier experience of the Tamils in negotiating - district development councils. Annexure C, the All Party Conference and so on. EROS protests in writing the attempt to implicate it falsely in an alleged plot to kill JR Jayewardene. Bhandari hosts banquet and it is clear there will be a Phase II for the talks.
Phase I continues. The talks adjourn and will reconvene in Thimpu on August 12. More discussions and exchange of information and complaints on cease-fire violations by Colombo which, in turn has 73 complaints against the militants. The six Tamil organisations jointly present the basic principles for a political settlement:
(a) recognition of the separate national identity of the Tamils,
(b) respect for the integrity of the traditional Tamil homeland,
(c) recognition of the right to self-determination for the Tamils, and
(d) citizenship rights for all Tamils who have chosen to make Sri Lanka their home.
These demands are understood to be within the framework of a united Sri Lanka. Militants and TULF ask HW Jayewardene to come back with a fresh, big enough proposal in keeping with these basic principles. HW Jayewardene asks the Tamil organisations to study his proposal further, specifically the powers being offered. He promises to come back to Thimpu with a good outcome.