by Sachi Sri Kantha, March 5, 2014
One of my regular correspondents sent me last month, a “Memo to the US Congress and Senate regarding the UNHRC Resolution-Re: The Geneva UNHRC Resolution in March 2014 against Sri Lanka ” and asked, ‘What do you think of this?’. It was posted in the Lanka Web Com on Feb.25, 2014.[ http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2014/02/25/memo-to-the-us-congress-and-senate]
The tag was . Before making my comments on this anonymous memorandum, I reproduce the complete text below, for its home-spun humor.
“Memo to the US Congress and Senate regarding the UNHRC Resolution-Re: The Geneva UNHRC Resolution in March 2014 against Sri Lanka
To: The Honorable Richard Burr, The Honorable Robert P. Casey, The Honorable Benjamin L. Cardin,
The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), The Honorable Robert Menendez, The Honorable Barbara Boxer
The Honorable Benjamin L. Cardin, The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen, The Honorable Christopher Coons, The Honorable Richard J. Durbin, The Honorable Tom Udall, The Honorable Christopher S. Murphy, The Honorable Tim Kaine,
The Honorable Edward J. Markey, The Honorable Bob Corker, The Honorable James E. Risch, The Honorable Marco Rubio, The Honorable Ron Johnson, The Honorable Jeff Flake, The Honorable John McCain,
The Honorable John A. Barrasso, The Honorable Rand Paul, The Honorable Edward R. Royce, The Honorable Christopher H. Smith, The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, The Honorable Dana Rohrabacher, The Honorable Steven Chabot, The Honorable Addison Graves Wilson, The Honorable Michael T. McCaul, The Honorable Ted Poe,
The Honorable Matt Salmon, The Honorable Thomas Marino, The Honorable Jeff Duncan, The Honorable Adam Kinzinger, The Honorable Mo Brooks, The Honorable Tom Cotton, The Honorable Paul Cook, The Honorable George Holding, The Honorable Randy Weber, The Honorable Scott Perry, The Honorable Steve Stockman, The Honorable Ron DeSantis, The Honorable Doug Collins, The Honorable Mark Meadows, The Honorable Ted Yoho, The Honorable Luke Messer, The Honorable Eliot L. Engel, The Honorable Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, The Honorable Brad Sherman,The Honorable Gregory W. Meeks, The Honorable Albio Sires, The Honorable Gerald E. Connolly, The Honorable Theodore Deutch, The Honorable Brian Higgins,The Honorable Karen Bass, The Honorable Bill Keating, Honorable David Cicilline, The Honorable Alan Grayson, The Honorable Juan Vargas, The Honorable Brad Schneider, The Honorable Joseph Kennedy, The Honorable Ami Bera, The Honorable Alan S. Lowenthal, The Honorable Grace Meng,
The Honorable Lois Frankel, The Honorable Tulsi Gabbard, The Honorable Joaquin Castro
From: A Sri Lankan American Voter remaining anonymous for security reasons
Re: The Geneva UNHRC Resolution in March 2014 against Sri Lanka
As a voting US Citizen of Sri Lankan origin, I wish to address all of you with concern and utter disappointment regarding the appalling rationale used in the upcoming resolution at the UNHRC in March 2014 proposed jointly against Sri Lanka. This is a witch hunt against my people who have suffered enough with terrorism for nearly 29 years that we who live in the US do not understand. The threat of a third resolution against Sri Lanka due to impatience, with unreal expectations of what you believe should have been accomplished in a short period of 5 years, fails to credit the work completed and currently in progress. Demanding more that is humanly impossible in 4 years following a 29 year war of destruction is counterproductive to moving forward with the momentum gained so far.
I apologize for the lengthy expression of facts below. It is because many legislators have reported that they rarely hear from those of us who speak for all citizens of Sri Lanka. Therefore I have stated most of what I have to say to you. Kindly read all of it as the voice of a US citizen is sounded here at great personal risk.
The threat of economic and political sanctions is viewed by individuals and other nations as a death sentence to deprive civilians as we have seen happen in other countries with US imposed sanctions. This is no way to protect human rights by taking away rights of other nations and its people. Not all Tamils were terrorists but all terrorists were Tamils. Pushing the agenda of a few will punish the very Tamil civilians among those who have chosen to make Sri Lanka their home. They are not going anywhere. The Sinhalese people who are a majority in the country viewed as the enemy of those pushing resolutions are in actuality a minority in the world. Sri Lanka is their homeland with no other country that speaks their language or embraces their culture. This effort of the UNHRC supported by the US under pressure from the pro LTTE Diaspora is an act of aggression against a world minority.
The UN gave its biased opinion that Sri Lanka’s LLRC internal investigation was flawed in March 2011 long before the report was published in November 2011 in a premeditated plan to discredit the capabilities of respected professionals chosen to carry out its function. It is not the role of the UN to hound a member country pushed by a group with pro terrorist leanings to drive a sovereign nation into disarray. Reports based on evidence given by “fictitious” witnesses whose identity is sealed for 20 or more years is a deliberate attempt to use false facts to destabilize a country, push an agenda that includes unrest, separation and a regime change.
The push to investigate war crimes in a small window of the end of the war dictated by the pro LTTE Tamil Diaspora who are guilty of atrocities committed by terrorists against all citizens of Sri Lanka is gross injustice and disrespect to the thousands of lives destroyed by suicide bombings and killings for over two decades before the war ended. It is like forgetting the 3,400 plus victims of 9/11 in determining the consequences of terrorism against the US in present times.
During the war, Sri Lanka sought the help of Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) who fought the LTTE with disastrous consequences to Tamil civilians. Later President Premadasa of Sri Lanka and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India were assassinated by the LTTE. Sri Lanka’s most admired Tamil national Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who could have been the Barak Obama of Sri Lanka was also killed by an LTTE sniper. It should also be remembered that the LTTE was encouraged and provided training facilities on Indian soil prior to the escalation of the war that started in 1983. They had the blessings of Indira Gandhi who was uneasy about the rapid development in neighboring Sri Lanka. As gratitude, her son Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE. However, the US is seeking the support of India (the source of terrorist training camps) against Sri Lanka its neighbor in bringing charges against Sri Lanka in an irrational choice of a window of time that exonerates the LTTE from all their brutality. The informants are not revealed and the information that is unreliable and unverifiable is sealed for 20 years. This is not about Tamil grievances. This was a terrorist war and the rules of engagement applied only to the Security forces as a terror group is not held accountable to international conventions. Unlike the struggles of the US against Al-Qaida terrorism where the perpetrators were on foreign soil, in this case with Sri Lanka you are led by the push from a pro terror group resident on US soil. As a citizen of this country knowing what I know, it makes me uneasy about your alliance with such a group.
I would like to remind you that Britain took 10 years to resettle people displaced in WWII. Sri Lanka resettled 300,000 its war displaced people within 3-4 years after a 29 year conflict having removed an inordinate amount of land mines from civilian areas forcibly taken by the terrorists. How can the security forces be accused of targeting civilians when such large numbers were saved and resettled? Collateral damage in a war is nothing new to the US and is inevitable in any war. People in the war torn areas are now FREE!!! They have PEACE!!! Roads, hospitals, homes schools have been built and businesses have opened and the people received assistance to rebuild their lives after LTTE repression. The former war torn areas are buzzing with activity and it is not yet five years since the war ended. The process of reconciliation and rebuilding must be given a fair chance because contrary to beliefs implanted by a few, all ethnic groups living in Sri Lanka do so amicably and are not agitating for the return to chaos sponsored internally or externally. No government is perfect. There are things remaining to be addressed. I am not placing these facts before you as a vote bearing supporter of the current Sri Lankan government. I am a vote bearing citizen of the United States of America that stood for justice in my eyes until it turned its back on my homeland when it needed the support of a fellow democracy most. I am deeply saddened by the relentless pursuit by the US with half-truths and inaccurate facts. The Sri Lankan people want to enjoy their peace and your push is getting in the way.
Also remember the pro LTTE Tamil Diaspora have discarded Sri Lanka and taken US, Canadian, and other citizenships. They are foreign nationals dictating to foreign governments using the US legislature to take action against Sri Lanka. Among them are individuals that had involvement in a terrorist movement proscribed in the USA and 31 other countries. If you examine the situation closely, some of them retain dual citizenship with Sri Lanka after gaining US and other citizenships claiming genocide. They return to Sri Lanka with no compunction and enjoy the development and even own property without discrimination while supporting anti Sri Lanka sentiments directly or indirectly. This is disregarded by the USA while it is my understanding that support for pro terror forces in any form on US soil is a violation of the Homeland Security Act. It is time that prior to releasing unfair vengeance through resolutions against a member country of the UN, all of you take time to learn more about the people of Sri Lanka. They do not hunt each other down based on ethnicity like barbarians. Sri Lanka is a population with literacy rate of over 90% and receive free college education and healthcare open to all ethnic groups with no preferences or restrictions. When one visits the country and observes the racial and religious freedom and harmony enjoyed by the people it will be a far cry from the picture painted by the pro LTTE diaspora. All religions enjoy public holidays and every religion has access to places of worship mandated by the government and its constitution. Wrong impressions are promoted with misinformation and political contributions from questionable sources to buy support against a country they abandoned. The pro LTTE Diaspora have no loyalty to Sri Lanka or the USA due to their own agenda that comes first using anyone they can. This is an agenda that some moderate Tamil people do not understand as they enjoy above average privileges disproportionate with ethnic ratios.
Sri Lanka has a population of approximately 20 million people in a land space of 25,332 square miles the size of West Virginia. In published data from the Department of Census & Statistics in 2012, over 74% are Sinhalese, about 11% people are Tamil excluding plantation workers making up 4% and about 7% are Muslim and the rest account for small groups of other minorities. Although there is a push for separation for Tamils, about 40% of Tamils live outside the North with 49% of the capital Colombo occupied by land owning Tamils who live harmoniously among other ethnic groups enjoying the southern prosperity. In terms of wealth 30% of Sri Lanka’s millionaires are from the minorities. Minorities are represented in positions in the cabinet, the government, corporate sector, all professions, the legal system and more with no ethnic restrictions. In the free education system, Engineering schools have been known to admit 24% of its places from the Tamil community. Medical schools with free tuition admit over 22% of Tamil students. In the Liberal Arts areas, about 17% admissions are from the minority ethnic group that is claiming discrimination. All of the above being disproportionate with ethnic ratios while claims of discrimination are relayed to the world!
Impatience is not an excuse to drive a country to the brink through international pressure when there are other issues that go unabated and fail to gain attention as we see what is happening in Syria. Syria’s death toll today is over 140,000 and there is no end in sight. Sri Lanka’s war was not a civil war. It was a terrorist struggle where suffering of the Tamil people was far greater as they lived under ruthless LTTE control. When Sri Lanka’s death toll rose on a daily basis through suicide bombings for 29 years, the US, UK with other allies and the UN made no attempt to save my people. Over 60,000 people of all ethnicities were killed by LTTE bombs and assassinations. Forced conscription of Tamil children as young as seven were turned into killers when they should have been in school. Forced Tamil women were trained and used as suicide bombers while the UN high commissioner turned the other way.
If the UNHRC’s attempts to destabilize the country, promote regime change and separation reversing the current path of reconciliation and rebuilding, the Sinhalese people who are a minority in the world will, with time become the victims of genocide. The Tamil minority of 2 million in Sri Lanka share commonality with 70 million Tamil speakers in Tamil Nadu which is swimming distance from Sri Lanka. The northern and eastern region of Sri Lanka were ethnically cleansed by the Tamil Tigers during decades of war. Their own people fled to the south or were sometimes gunned down or suicide bombed in places of worship, public buildings, and schools and in places that caused maximum loss of life. The terrorist leader was a great admirer of Adolf Hitler and enjoyed viewing movies of their killing expeditions. Need we say more? Where was the UNHRC then?
Pushing the security forces of Sri Lanka for war crimes punishment contradicts the struggle of the US and the role of its security forces who are greatly admired for fighting terrorism. The weaponry for all the violence against the people in my country was financed by those who enjoy citizenship in western nations including the US where they received fast track immigration, financial assistance and supported terrorism that violated laws of the countries that hosted them. Some found guilty are today in prison in the US. You may not be aware that the suicide bomb jacket used to kill US and NATO forces was the creation of Sri Lanka’s LTTE, the supporters of whom you have embraced at our doorstep on US soil risking the safety of the American people.
It is far more advantageous for the US to support Sri Lanka to move forward with the rebuilding and reconciliation process that has already achieved a great deal in a small expanse of time. The US can gain their strategic strength in the region with a legitimate government by the people, for the people as believed by us in the US rather than be aligned to pro terror groups. We know only too well how Saddham Hussein befriended to fight Iran, Bin Laden of the Mujahidin supported to fight the Soviets ended up on a fast track to terrorism against the US. Quoting the former Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton, she admits to the creation of Al Qaida through misguided alliances. Why is the US repeating mistakes by their relentless push against Sri Lanka, one of the oldest democracies in the world using another misguided alliance?
As a US citizen I believe President Obama is committed to protecting all citizens within the boundaries of the United States from terrorism. Sri Lanka’s President exercised the same commitment to protect his people from terrorists. At the time 9/11 attacks took place, Sri Lanka had experienced terrorism for 18 years. It is hypocritical because Tamil civilians died in the hands of the LTTE which is the reason for the focus on a pinhole like view taken into consideration to exonerate them from their inhuman atrocities. After the war ended the poor, weak and low caste northerners no longer suffer due to threats from their own who turned into terrorists. The Government has assisted them to regain their lives. In contrast, the pro LTTE Diaspora financed killing of their own people and no contribution was made to infrastructure development while claiming lack of opportunities. Contributions for weapons could have been spent on development to create opportunities not fear and death.
The LTTE turned Tamil civilians into terrorists and the government reversed that situation by rehabilitating those that surrendered and today, they are in mainstream life. They were not executed by firing squads. At the end of the war, the human shield civilians used by the LTTE were Tamils of my country. They too lived to tell the tale and the numbers quoted as disappearances do not add up considering the 300,000 civilians who as surviving IDPs were resettled by the government. Why have such contradictory facts been used to discredit Sri Lanka? The figures bandied around as “disappearances” are exaggerated because they include over 4,000 members of the security forces and those who left Sri Lanka claiming they were refugees and asylum seekers in danger because the LTTE drove them to leave either to the south or overseas. It is not possible to verify those that have not disappeared but are very much alive in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia where social programs supported them.
To add insult to injury at the upcoming UNHRC, human rights are being discussed with the harshest criticism against Sri Lanka and North Korea. Do you really believe that Sri Lanka can be placed on level with North Korea? Sri Lanka eliminated the terror group declared by the FBI as the most brutal among the top three in the world. A study by Canada’s Mackenzie Institute on terrorism, speaks volumes about the LTTE brand of terrorism.
I wish to respectfully remind the Senators and everyone in the Obama administration that the suicide bombs that killed thousands of US and NATO security forces were the invention of the Sri Lanka LTTE. They continue to be used against US Security forces. The FBI has credited the LTTE with more than that if directly quoted from the FBI website.
Sri Lanka rehabilitated over 12,000 combatants. They did not face a firing squad on surrender. Isn’t that humanitarian consideration shown by the Sri Lanka authorities? The LTTE strangely have no war disabled. They were blown up because they were a liability to the leader of the LTTE and reports from relatives remain as clear evidence with eyewitness accounts. Before they were misguided and conscripted, they were Sri Lankan civilians among our people. Blowing them up is an act of Human Rights Violation your resolutions and arguments have excluded and not questioned.
We are immigrants who respect the sovereignty of not only the USA but our home land Sri Lanka too. We do not appreciate interference when it comes from the wrong quarter. Your friends today do not respect the sovereignty of their land of birth. Will they respect their adopted land? Unlike others who turned against the US, many of these opportunists are on your soil. Please remember, support to anyone that speaks for terror groups endangers the “American People” that includes me. Their financial contributions as political donations should not be the criteria to speak for them. A fair and equitable US foreign policy matters more to a US citizen like me.
Give Sri Lanka the time, space and support to move forward. The US will not have to regret being a supporter of the right side of Sri Lanka.”
Sri Kantha’s Comments on this Memo
What a laborious exercise in 3,232 words by this ‘Patriot for United Sri Lanka’?. In Tamil, there is an idiom, ‘Malayai kelli Eliyai Pidippathu pola’ [i.e, As if to dig a mountain to grasp a rat]. What a ratty exercise! I have a vague suspicion that this sophomoric attempt to condemn the LTTE for all the troubles faced by the Sri Lankan nation since 1983 was drafted by media minions of the Sri Lankan government. The memorandum was addressed to numerous American legislators by “A Sri Lankan American Voter remaining anonymous for security reasons”. Ain’t this funny? This itself indicates that this attempt was largely meant for domestic consumption.
To my correspondent, I sent the following response: “It is just junk, to satisfy the ego of Gotabhaya R. and his ilk in Sri Lanka. First and foremost, it will not receive any attention from US legislators, because the author has not come forward to identify himself or herself. Secondly, this sort of appeal should be addressed individually to the legislator, and not like a chain letter format. He (she) says that because of ‘security threat’ he (she) couldn’t divulge his (her) name. From whom, he (she) has to be scared now?” Though I didn’t want to waste too much time on this anonymous memorandum, I felt that it deserves an open rebuttal.
What was interesting to me, in this anonymous memorandum, was the reference to Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar (who became known to Sri Lankans publicly only in 1994) as “Sri Lanka’s most admired Tamil national Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who could have been the Barack Obama of Sri Lanka was also killed by an LTTE sniper.” What a false, inappropriate comparison? President Obama faced the Presidential elections twice and was elected on popular vote. Mr. Kadirgamar, in his political life, never faced neither the general elections (2000, 2001, 2004) nor the Presidential election (1999). Kadirgamar was merely a political puppet, who parrot-mouthed what was fed to him by his Sinhalese masters. As of now, no proper judicial inquiry had been held in Sri Lanka about his 2005 assassination. The same was true for the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa, despite the pleas of his children. It had been suggested that Mr. Kadirgamar’s ambition to become the prime minister under the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga was nipped in the bud by his prominent Sinhalese rivals aiming for the same spot. These rivals included the current President Mahinda Rajapaksa as well. The circumstantial evidence of Kadirgamar’s assassination at a high security area, near his own swimming pool, as well as the dubious behavior of Kadirgamar’s security guards, betrays the ‘official’ police version that LTTE did play a role in his death. Blaming LTTE for all assassinations had become an easy escape route for the racist politicians, press and the police.
Here is a paragraph from the 2001 book of a prominent anti-LTTE scribe, Rajan Hoole, relating to Mr. Kadirgamar, the official Sinhalese puppet.
“The Press on 29th October 1999 carried an official announcement on Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar’s meeting with the UN Working Group on Disappearances. He contended that the forensic excavations in Chemmani, Jaffna, with international observers in attendance, had exonerated the Government of the mass disappearances in 1996. These, he said, “made clear that there was no ‘mass grave’ as suggested by parties that have a vested interest in tarnishing the good name earned by Sri Lanka on human rights issues in recent times.” The issue was clearly not one mass grave, but hundreds of witnessed and recorded disappearances. Furthermore, no prosecutions have resulted from the skeletons recovered and identified.” [The words in italics, are as in the original. ‘Sri Lanka – The Arrogance of Power – Myths, Decadence and Murder’, University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Colombo’, 2001, pp. 436-437.]
One thing which amused me about Kadirgamar’s political career, was his superlative effort as a ‘snake oil salesman’ for Sinhalese in international podia. I wrote an opinion piece, ‘Kadirgamar’s Snake Oil’ on November 15, 2000. Here is an excerpt: In one of his lectures at the UN Assembly, delivered in 1997, Kadirgamar had bragged, “ ‘the LTTE has conscripted thousands of teenage children to fight its war…’ [At that time], neutral observers had recorded that the fighting force of LTTE stands between 7,000 and 10,000. If ‘thousands’ are conscripted teenage children, one wonders how weak and inept is the Sri Lankan army to be continually at the receiving end of such ‘conscripted teenage children’?”
Apart from Kadirgamar, what was omitted in this anonymous memorandum also deserve attention. As is regurgitated in the kept press of Sri Lankan government, there are dubious statistics like,
(1) “In terms of wealth 30% of Sri Lanka’s millionaires are from the minorities.”
(2) “Over 60,000 people of all ethnicities were killed by LTTE bombs and assassinations.”
(3) “Sri Lanka rehabilitated over 12,000 combatants.”
How about the statistics of Tamils (indigenous and Indian-origin) in the Sri Lankan armed forces? Since 1962, equal opportunity employment for Tamils in Sri Lankan armed forces had been denied. Almost 99% of the Sri Lankan armed forces are recruited from 74% Sinhalese population.