Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Printer-Friendly Version

Get With It, Mr. Ambassador

by Wakeley Paul, Esq.*

It is time the U.S. government realized the history of discrimination by Sinhalese governments that  has stimulated the Tamil demand for Independence. We have, for over two generations, been holding ourselves back from a long fall into nothing.


The American Ambassador in Colombo, instead of being a mere mouthpiece of existing American foreign policy towards the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government, should be advising the distinguished Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as to the actual conditions existing on the ground in the island called Sri Lanka. This would prevent him from taking inexplicable positions, urging the implementation of the CFA by the LTTE  and threatening the LTTE with war by a Sri Lankan army bolstered with American aid, if they do not.

The following oddities in the Ambassador’s threats against the LTTE, while blindly supporting the existing anti-American, leftist SL government, should be highlighted:

[1] The Ambassador threatens the LTTE with war by American fueled S.L armed forces if the LTTE does not implement the CFA. Who, in fact, has refused to implement the existing CFA and demanded that its terms be changed before any CFA could be honored?  Is it the LTTE or the present Sinhalese President?

[2]  Where, oh where, are the present violations of the CFA? Are they a result of attacks on civilians or government forces in the south by the LTTE?  No, they are in the North and in areas of the East, where the SL armed forces are in control. There have been attacks by the LTTE against the SL armed forces which have been publicized to suggest that the LTTE is violating the CFA without reason or provocation. Have they looked at or publicized one word about the unceasing attacks against Tamil civilians engaged in regular, daily civilian tasks in the NorthEast, by the  SL armed forces or their agents, the Karuna faction? 

Have they bothered to document any of these violations to see why the LTTE retaliated against, not Sinhalese civilians, but the SL armed forces? Does the American government realize, first, that no one, but none, acts without cause? Do they further realize what it is to have your enemies' armed forces forced upon your people, to attack, frustrate and humiliate them constantly? Would they tolerate such  a forced presence of Arab armed forces on Israeli territory?  Does this bulwark of Democracy, the United States, support such a blatant violation of the democratic sensitivities of a people? Or are the Tamil people to be regarded as nothing more that disposable fetuses, like the Sinhalese governments regard them?

[3] The present Ambassador and the American government fail to realize how Lakshman Kadirgamar took advantage of the fear of terrorism to con the U.S. government  into banning the LTTE as a terrorist organization? Has the LTTE attacked anyone but the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka?

Have they touched a single foreigner, other than Rajiv Gandhi, whose assassination they  were accused of? Rajiv Gandhi was not just some foreigner. He aided and abetted the most ruthless and violent anti-Tamil Sinhalese leader, President Jayawardena, in his futile attempts to wipe out the struggle for Tamil rights and the Tamil community as a proud and independent entity? Rajiv sent his troops to help crush the LTTE, only to have his troops crushed and humiliated by the LTTE, while these same troops brutalized the Tamil civilian population. The Indian troops finally had to withdraw in  disgrace and they have never forgiven the LTTE for humiliating the world's fourth largest army. Regardless of whether you believe the LTTE were framed by the Indian  government or there was proof that the LTTE were involved, the fact is that Rajiv Gandhi was deeply involved in helping the Sinhalese to suppress the Tamils.

By contrast, have the LTTE posed even a whisker of a threat to the United States or to International security? Isn’t that the terrorism that the U.S and the rest of the world is concerned with?

[4]] Has the American Ambassador asked himself the simple question as to how the LTTE emerged as a force to be reckoned with in Sri Lanka? After years of discrimination in employment, education, land ownership and the right to have their aspirations implemented in a Parliament dominated by the Sinhalese, the then non violent Tamil leader, Mr Chelvanayagam, sought a Federal alternative to the Unitary Constitution, the constitution that permitted the Sinhalese to ride roughshod over the other ethnic and religious groups. Every promise, every effort by any Sinhalese leader to fulfill this request for a Federal State was frustrated by the Sinhalese Buddhist determination to maintain  Sinhalese Buddhist supremacy on the island, at the expense of every other ethnic and religious group.

Mr Chelvanayagam engaged in non violent protest against unceasing Sinhalese violent discrimination against Tamils, only to be met with virulently violent government responses, either directly by use of their armed forces or by fanning race riots. Finally even the non violent Mr Chelvanayagam demanded separation in 1977.

[5] It was when the Tamil youth realized that they could not have their hopes and aspirations fulfilled through a Sinhalese-dominated Parliament, that they resorted to war as the only way to attain independence. This was after all prospects for a Federal State were stymied by successive Sinhalese governments.

If an American Ambassador is not aware of this background before branding the LTTE as a terrorist organization, he should resign and return to the U.S. If the U.S. government cannot bring themselves to recognizing that Lakshman Kadirgamar successfully duped them into classifying the LTTE as an international terrorist organization, so be it.  It is time, however, they flapped their wings and realized that they were effectively fooled by a former Foreign Minister of a Sinhalese government. It may be a hard and difficult admission to make, but it has got to be made sometime soon.

Sinhalese governments have engaged in every possible effort to brand the LTTE as a terrorist organization based on their having engaged in suicide bombings. The vast majority of such bombings were  against the regular armed forces of the superior SL armed forces.  Does fighting armed forces by use of this technique by a smaller smaller army make them terrorists? It may make them hard to deal with, but that does not by any stretch of the imagination make them terrorist.

Terrorists are those who cause international upheaval by engaging in such attacks primarily against unarmed civilians, anywhere and everywhere, posing a threat to every nation anywhere and everywhere. The LTTE has never been guilty of such activity. Their main targets are the Sri Lankan armed forces. and Sinhalese leaders at the head of those armed forces .

It is time the U.S. government realized the history of discrimination by Sinhalese governments that  has stimulated the Tamil demand for Independence. We have, for over two generations, been holding ourselves back from a long fall into nothing. Should not that be pretty obvious to even the simplest of minds? We can only gasp with disbelief that this is not obvious to representatives of the U.S. government in Sri Lanka. It would appear that the Sinhalese anti Tamil disease has now infected the American government as well.

What do they want us to do? Live passively under the ever exploding star of a violent  Sinhalese disregard of Tamil well being?

All we can say is, "Mr. Ambassador, get with it. Stop filtering the information that gets through to Washington and put our government in the picture so they can adopt a more realistic approach to the Sri Lankan fiasco." That should be your sacred obligation to your government.

cc:: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
cc: Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Senate
cc: Chairman: Foreign Affairs Committee, US House of Representatives

* B.A. Cantab, [Law} University of Cambridge, England M.A.  Cantab L.L.M. Stanford Law School, California Barrister at Law, Middle Temple, London. Former Crown  Counsel , Ceylon [now Sri Lanka] Attorney at Law, New Jersey [retired]