Tamils for Obama to Supreme Court: Can the U.S. Arrest Rajapaksa?

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Tamils for Obama, a political group of American Tamils, wrote to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts asking for his opinion on whether Mahinda Rajapaksa (president of Sri Lanka and possible author of crimes committed during the recent Sri Lankan civil war) can be arrested as he travels through the U.S. this fall.

Can the U.S. arrest Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa as he travels through this country to visit the United Nations this fall?

Tamils for Obama asked that question in a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

"The United States has arrested and deported accused war criminals in the past," explained a spokesman for the Tamil American group. "Our country arrested accused Nazis decades after the crimes they were supposed to have committed took place, so this is not unprecedented.

"We guess that this is different because the accusations come from international civilian organizations--the International Crisis Group, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and so forth--rather than courts of law. They say that there is plenty of evidence that Sri Lankan government forces, which were ultimately commanded by President Rajapaksa, committed what would probably be considered war crimes.

"The international organizations mention the government's intentional shelling of civilian refugees in protected areas, intentional shelling of hospitals, and violent actions against humanitarian organizations," the spokesman said. "Those would be war crimes by almost anybody's definition."

The spokesman also said that "There was also evidence of execution without trial of prisoners. The evidence hasn't been tested by any court yet, but we hope an American court will be willing to look at it."

"We also noted that the U.S. and NATO intervened when there were reports of atrocities being committed in Bosnia," the spokesman added. "Armed intervention is at least as serious as legal intervention, or so we think.

"We know we are not legal experts," said the Tamils for Obama spokesman. "Our letter to Chief Justice Roberts is to ask his opinion. This is a complicated matter, so we know that high-level legal knowledge is required. We hoped that Mr. Roberts would share his thoughts with us."

"We also hope this matter will become something for public discussion. If we can get lawyers and judges talking about it, we think that this is step in the right direction."

The spokesman mentioned that similar letters had been sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal , New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Senator Patrick Leahy (Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) and the other eight Supreme Court justices.

To read the whole letter go to: http://www.Tamilsforobama.com/Letters/Letter_to_John_Roberts831.html

To read the Tamil version of the press release go to the link: http://www.Tamilsforobama.com/pressrelease/PR_Letter_to_John_Roberts831_tamil.html

Tamils for Obama's letter to Chief Justice Roberts concluded with links to accounts of President Rajapaksa's war time behavior. These included:

To read accounts of Mr. Rajapaksa's wartime conduct from the International Crisis Group: http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-asia/sri-lanka/191-war-crimes-in-sri-lanka.aspx

To read accounts of Mr. Rajapaksa's wartime conduct from Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/05/08/sri-lanka-repeated-shelling-hospitals-evidence-war-crimes

Tamils for Obama is a politically active association of Tamil Americans. The group believes that the ultimate solution to ethnic strife in Sri Lanka will necessarily include some form of political separation of Sri Lankan Tamils from the government dominated by the majority Singhalese. Tamils for Obama supports peaceful measures that if believes advance this goal of a political solution to Sri Lanka's ethnic problems.

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.


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