Ilankai Tamil Sangam

28th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Three Things to Discuss with Minister Peiris

by Tamils for Obama, PRWeb, May 25, 2010

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Tamils for Obama suggested three matters they believe she should bring up when she meets with Sri Lanka's Minister of External Affairs Peiris. These included Sri Lanka's use of sexual violence as a tool of government; Colombo's apparent policy of obliterating landmarks of Tamil culture; and the danger of allowing the Colombo government's "scorched earth" method of putting down an insurrection to be seen as a success.

New York, NY (PRWEB) May 25, 2010 -- When Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris visits Washington DC this week and meets with Secretary of State Clinton, Tamils for Obama has a few suggestions of things they should discuss.

"We know they have lots to talk about," said a spokesman for the Tamil American group. "So we only named three subjects we thought they should not overlook. We mentioned them in the letter we sent her.

"The first item was sexual violence as a tool of government. This is a subject on which Mrs. Clinton has taken a forceful position in the past, so we expect she will want to address it when she meets with Mr. Peiris."

In their letter, Tamils for Obama told of reports they have received of Tamil women being kidnapped and kept as sexual slaves by Sri Lankan soldiers. "We can't say for sure whether these are soldiers acting on their own--the Sri Lankan army is not well disciplined--or if it is a government policy, like when the Japanese army conscripted Korean women into military brothels during World War II. Either way, it bothers us and we hope Secretary Clinton will bring it up when she talks to Minister Peiris."

The second topic that Tamils for Obama urged Mrs. Clinton to bring up was the Colombo government's apparent policy of destroying landmarks of Tamil culture. "The Sri Lankan government calls it "redevelopment" of Tamil areas," the spokesman said. "But the Colombo government is finding one pretext after another for obliterating Tamil cultural and historical landmarks. As the government builds roads they destroy historic buildings, including temples, schools, and presses. They want to make it look like Tamils have no history here.

"We gave one particular example," the spokesman mentioned. "It is the site of the palace and administrative buildings of King Sangilian II. He was the last Tamil ruler before the arrival of European colonial powers in the early 1600s. The government is about to wipe it away to make room for a tourist complex. It is a part of world history that is about to be destroyed, and we hope we can make Mrs. Clinton aware of the danger.

"And then there is the matter of Colombo's 'scorched earth' warfare," the Tamils for Obama spokesman continued. "Every bloodthirsty dictator in the world will see the success they had and will be ready to use the Sri Lankan method of unlimited killing to put down a popular uprising. If it is allowed to stand as an example of how to manage a civil conflict, the world will see endless bloodshed as a result.

"We quoted the Financial Times, which wrote 'It may often be possible for governments to defeat insurgencies if they do not care how many civilians they kill.'

"We wrote to Mrs. Clinton 'It is every diplomat's duty and your duty particularly to make some kind of effort to keep this scorched earth policy from gaining popularity.' We told her that the Sri Lankan government's own investigation of its own actions can only result in a whitewash.

"The Boston Globe said of Colombo's plan 'This is a formula for scorched-earth repression, banning the international press, denying all charges of misconduct, and pretending the killers can conduct a disinterested investigation of their killings." We told Mrs. Clinton that we agree with The Boston Globe, and hope she does too.

To read the entire letter, go to:

To read the letter in Tamil, go to:

Tamils are an ethnic group living mainly in the northeast of Sri Lanka and southern India. During the final weeks of the recent civil war, the Sri Lankan government killed about 1,000 Tamil civilians per day, according to the United Nations, and about 40,000 in 2009. The Tamil are a population in Sri Lanka has borne the brunt of a civil war they regard as genocide. One-third of the Tamil population has fled the island and formed a substantial diaspora overseas. Tamils for Obama is comprised of Tamils who have settled in the U.S. or who were born in the U.S.

To contact the group, call at (617) 765-4394 and speak to, or leave a message for, the Communication Director, Tamils for Obama.


Printer-friendly version