Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Closing the Barn Door After the Horses Have Bolted

US Assistant Secretary of State Boucher's Interview on Sri Lanka

by Prof. Aaron Rajah, San Diego, CA, USA

Indeed, Boucher's government has taken action against the first allegation that a “democratic government with democratic institutions is fighting against a terrorist group” by banning Liberation Tigers and providing military hardware to Sri Lanka; yet he was quite shy about doing the right thing concerning the second allegation about “abuses and killings in government controlled areas.” ...

It’s about time that Mr. Boucher say the following on behalf of the unbiased, moral and peace-loving American people: from the failure of the Sri Lankan government to stop these human rights abuses, and the opposition of the Sri Lankan government to letting an international team investigate, it can only be concluded that the violators are the same individuals who are opposing the investigations by a third party.

United States foreign policies in Sri Lanka have always been a revolving door, in which even the policymakers of the State Department lose sight of the obvious, forget their accountability, and deliver only pro forma excuses. Earlier today US Assistant Secretary of State Mr. Boucher once again came out of hibernation and made some much needed seasonal noise in an April 15, 2007 interview with Colombo's Sunday Leader --

 “I think we have two things. We have first the basic problem which is that a democratic government with democratic institutions is fighting against a terrorist group. We are very concerned about the continuing reports of what is going on in the Tamil Tiger areas about forced recruitment. Frankly the bus bombings, bombing buses full of innocent civilians, these things are all serious human rights problems. But we are also concerned about reports of abuses and killings in government controlled areas and we strongly encourage the government to take those seriously, to investigate seriously, to ensure that the law enforcement officials follow careful codes of conduct and act in a transparent manner..."

Indeed, Boucher's government has taken action against the first allegation that a “democratic government with democratic institutions is fighting against a terrorist group” by banning the Liberation Tigers and providing military hardware to Sri Lanka; yet he was quite shy about doing the right thing concerning the second allegation about “abuses and killings in government controlled areas.” While US taxpayers demand answers to this double standard, Mr. Boucher stated that the United States has "helped support the commission of inquiry and supported an international commission to help make sure those investigations do get carried out more thoroughly."

Mr. Boucher continued:

"I’d say we are very concerned about the whole human rights situation and put a lot of emphasis on it as we’ve seen often it is a difficult thing for other things to proceed if there are widespread concerns about the human rights situation..."

Mr. Boucher is no stranger to the current Sri Lankan ethnic cleansing of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Mr. Boucher, head of the US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, has been involved in Sri Lanka’s peace process and has participated in several discussions among the so-called Co-Chairs of the peace process.

It has been almost a year and a half since the government’s latest wave of  killing of innocent Tamils began. These crimes have been unopposed by the US and other foreign governments except for occasional verbal complaints by the US; as a result, the slaughter of more than 2000 innocent Tamil civilians was made possible. And the death tally keeps climbing as we write this article.

It was a slap in the face for the so-called international community when Sri Lanka opposed any international inquiries on the human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

So why does Mr. Boucher now come out of the woodwork and insist on an international team to investigate human rights abuse, after playing ball with Sri Lanka for almost a year?

Why try to close the barn door when the horses have already bolted so long ago?

In this case, the killing continued while US policymakers did nothing except reward the same governments who were involved in human rights violations.  It’s about time that Mr. Boucher say the following on behalf of the unbiased, moral and peace-loving American people: from the failure of the Sri Lankan government to stop these human rights abuses and the opposition of the Sri Lankan government to letting an international team investigate, it can only be concluded that the violators are the same individuals who are opposing the investigations by a third party.

So why does Mr. Boucher makethe same weak complaints over and over again without any binding to his words? Shouldn’t Mr. Boucher be held responsible by the American people for the claims that he makes?

In conclusion, Mr. Boucher and Ambassador Blake have no credibility with the international community or with the American people. They have failed to reveal the consequences of continuous silence by the Sri Lankan government on the issue of state human rights abuses. After all, how long can one make mere lip service up? Until the last Tamil civilian is killed in Sri Lanka?

We, the American people, demand answers.