Sri Lanka Defies U.S. Sanctions Against Iran

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The United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) holds a boycott rally in cities across the United States calling on Sri Lanka to respect human rights inside the country and drawing attention to Sri Lanka’s request for an exemption from US sanctions on Iranian oil use.

On Saturday, February 11 – Valentine’s Day weekend – USTPAC protestors gathered in front of Victoria’s Secret stores around the United States in an effort to call attention to the need to boycott Sri Lanka. Victoria’s Secret’s largest manufacturing plant is in Sri Lanka, and protestors have been outside Victoria’s Secret stores every month since 2009 (http://www.ustpac.org/Section2/Default.aspx), the peak of Sri Lanka’s conflict. Consumers were asked to spend their money with a moral conscience and boycott goods from Sri Lanka.

As tensions increase surrounding Iran amid fears concerning her ability to build a nuclear weapon, the White House announced new sanctions against Iran (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/world/middleeast/white-house-moves-to-tighten-sanctions-on-iran.html?_r=2) to force the government to curb their nuclear program. The executive order signed by President Obama sent warnings to financial institutions in foreign nations to respect the sanctions or face huge penalties if they continue to do business with Iran’s Central Bank, according to The New York Times.

Sri Lanka imports 93% of their crude oil requirements from Iran (http://www.sundaytimes.lk/120205/Columns/political.html) and the government is demanding an exemption from U.S. sanctions intended to paralyze Iran’s nuclear program, according to Colombo’s The Sunday Times.

“An exemption would violate the spirit and text of the U.S. sanctions program, and would ruthlessly ignore Sri Lanka’s prior and ongoing human rights violations,” said Dr. Ellyn Shander, USTPAC’s Vice President for Divestment.

The Sri Lankan government has a record of egregious human rights violations and war crimes (http://www.hrw.org/node/98010) committed against the Tamil people according to numerous reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurist and others. Despite facing international calls for a war crimes investigation, Sri Lanka’s culture of impunity (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA37/005/2009/en) has achieved further alienation of the Tamil people in their own homeland. Sri Lanka is now proposing to ignore economic sanctions against Iran.

“Sri Lanka is not above the law. Human rights and dignity must be respected, as well as US and international sanctions against Iran,” further noted Dr. Shander. “Sri Lanka must not be allowed to continue importing oil from Iran and supporting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Is it not enough that Sri Lanka’s government commits genocide of their own people, the Tamils? Now they support a nuclear Iran... What more do we need as evidence that they are outside of the civilized international community?"

USTPAC works to spotlight attention on economic action to persuade Sri Lanka to comply with international humanitarian law. Boycotts of goods, divestment of assets and other economic action are imperative to stop Sri Lanka’s continuing destruction of the Tamil people, and to push for accountability for crimes against humanity committed during and after the long civil war.

Media Contact: 202-595-3123
email: info(at)ustpac(dot)org
or visit: http://www.ustpac.org

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