Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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HRW Missing an Opportunity

Targets victims

Sangam Press Release, March 15, 2006

The Association of Sri Lankan Tamils in the USA wishes to express its regret concerning the report Human Rights Watch (HRW) released today asserting that Western governments are failing to protect the Tamil community from LTTE fundraising. We believe that HRW is missing an opportunity to bring real problems to the attention of the American people

The Tamil American community is spread widely thoughout the US and have become integral members of their neighborhoods. Many arrived decades ago, leaving discrimination and pogroms behind in Sri Lanka, and have worked as doctors, ministers, engineers and accountants here ever since. More recently, the Tamils coming to the US have been fleeing a terrible civil war and have been pulling themselves and their children up by their bootstraps toward the American dream.

The Tamil community in the US is living with a "culture of fear" from actions of the Sri Lankan government, not the LTTE. It is the government that has failed the Tamils so egregiously that such a large number have been (and still are) compelled to flee. Sri Lanka has not recognized Tamils' language or political rights, destroyed the Northeastern economy, organized pogroms, colonized Tamil areas and stationed an occupying army in the Tamil heartland.

These are the issues that the Tamil American community believes HRW should be addressing.

Instead, HRW has chosen to write its reports about the two issues that are the favorites of the Sri Lankan government in its efforts to weaken the LTTE: underage recruitment and fundraising. We believe that, if HRW looks closely enough at its sources, it will find that they have direct or indirect links to the government. Even UNICEF is allowed the highest number of child protection officers in the world in Sri Lanka because they have chosen to speak loudly on an issue of use to the government and not one of benefit to the Tamil children whose infant and childhood mortality rates have quadrupled during the war.

We find it astonishing that an agency with a reputation as fine as that of HRW has allowed itself to be used so blatantly in the interests of a country with such a terrible human rights record.

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