Tamils for Obama: President Must Appoint A Special Envoy To Deal With Situation In Sri Lanka

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Tamils for Obama: The conflict in Sri Lanka had roots dating back at least to 1948, when Ceylon became independent. The causes that led to the long civil war (government-inspired race riots, stripping Tamils of political rights, uprooting Tamils and repopulating the vacated villages with Singhalese, etc.) have not been addressed. Although the fighting is over for the time being, it is certain to resume if the causes are not addressed. This deserves a special envoy with cabinet rank who can asses the problem and push a solution.

Tamils for Obama wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to appoint a special envoy to deal with the temporarily dormant but unresolved conflict in Sri Lanka.

A Tamils for Obama spokesman explained that the letter told Mr. Obama that the problem was an old one, dating back at least to the end of the colonial period. The Letter said: "The problem began when the British made Sri Lanka independent in 1948. The government's campaign of ethnic cleansing led to the beginning of armed resistance in 1983 and the civil war that continued until the Sri Lankan government crushed the Tamil Tigers in May 2009. If the government continues its efforts to delete the Tamils from Sri Lankan life, the smoldering conflict will certainly burst into flame again. This is not a problem that has been solved or which has solved itself. This is a problem that is at least sixty-one years old and which will endure for at least that long into the future if it is not tended to."

The spokesman downplayed the claimed good will of the Sri Lankan government. He noted that while the current president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, speaks of "a homegrown solution" in which there will be "no more minorities," Rajapaksa's and the government's goals are not so benign. "While Mr. Rajapaksa might seem to speaking of a country without rancor or ethnic divisions," the Tamils for Obama letter goes on, "his history and the history of Sri Lanka indicate that he means crushing or evicting such minorities as exist. He will apparently continue until there is only his own Singhalese Buddhist ethnicity left on the island."

The spokesman and the letter state, "The Tamils will not consent to being wiped away."

The Tamils for Obama spokesman explained that the group usually uses the term "Ethnic cleansing" when they are talking about activities that the U.N. considers genocide. "'Ethnic cleansing' is a more accurate and less shocking way of saying genocide," he said. "We use 'Ethnic cleansing' so that people will keep on reading."

"Ethnic cleansing," as the Tamils for Obama letter explains, "usually involves persecuting a minority until they feel unsafe in the country, and leave. Before the civil war began in Sri Lanka, this campaign included nation-wide race riots directed at Tamils, stripping Tamils of their political rights and protections, uprooting Tamils from areas in which they have lived for millennium, and encouraging Singhalese to move into the vacated homes, and illegitimating Tamil language and culture. During the civil war the campaign included making war on the Tamil civilian population using both military and paramilitary forces. In 2009 alone, between 20,000 and 70,000 Tamil civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan government."

He cited a paragraph in the letter to the president: "'Ethnic cleansing' is a euphemism for the state terrorism and genocide that are practiced by states like Sri Lanka. It is bad enough where it occurs; but we must also consider the destabilizing effects it has on neighboring countries and the coarsening effects on the countries like ours which allow it to happen. The United States must recognize that the genocide of the Tamils is of interest to all of us. We urge that you appoint a special envoy to deal with this problem. It will not go away by itself."

"The 300,000 Tamils currently trapped in the government's 'welfare camps' are alleged to be victims of widespread kidnapping, rape, disappearances, and other phenomena consistent with the government's ethnic cleansing policy," said the spokesman. "In 1948, Tamils were over 30 percent of the population of Ceylon, as the country was then called. They are now under 18 percent of the population. Colombo's ethnic cleansing campaign appears to be working."

The Sri Lankan government has always tried to keep their actions out of the view of the world, said the Tamils for Obama spokesperson. He quoted the letter to President Obama: "That international media and humanitarian organizations are kept out of the camps and other areas into which Tamil IDPs have been driven is also consistent with the government's policy, to which they want no witnesses."

To read the letter go to: http://www.Tamilsforobama.com/letters/Letter_Prez_june_2009.html

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 30,000 in 2009. Tamils are a minority population in Sri Lanka, and have 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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