Tamils for Obama: Senate Report Hides the Most Important Fact About Sri Lanka

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The report titled "Sri Lanka: Recharting U.S. Strategy After the War" says that the U.S. must address the root issues that led to the civil war, if the U.S. is to repair relations with the strategically important island. The authors of the report, however, conceal Colombo's abuses of Sri Lankan Tamils that brought about the civil war that started in 1983, and so hides the most important fact of modern history in Sri Lanka.

A report released on Monday (December 7, 2009) by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, titled "Sri Lanka: Recharting U.S. Strategy After the War," hides the most important facts about modern Sri Lankan history, said a spokesman for Tamils for Obama.

In a letter to Committee members the Tamil group wrote "We just finished reading the report... What the report says is less significant than what the authors choose to hide: that the civil war that began in 1983 was the direct result of a government campaign of violence against the country's Tamil population."

The letter was also sent to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.

The spokesman said "The committee staffers who wrote the report seemed to focus on Sri Lanka's strategic location in the Indian Ocean and bury the inconvenient details of the Sri Lankan government's brutality to its Tamil population. They recommended that the U.S. take measures to make friends with the Colombo government and they ignore that government's role in causing the recent conflict there. Apparently, they just don't want to say anything that will make the Sri Lankan government look bad."

The Tamils for Obama letter explains that "The authors of the report write 'The war in Sri Lanka may be over, but the underlying conflict still simmers,' and 'Those root causes must be tackled soon and with a sense of urgency to prevent the country from backsliding.' Of course, this is true: if you ignore the cause, the effect will keep recurring. It is important to note that the authors of the report never mentioned the actual 'root causes' and avoid mentioning the 'underlying conflict' that brought about the civil war: the government's aggression against the Sri Lankan Tamils"

"The violence against Tamils that we believe is the root cause of the conflict is detailed in our letter," the Tamils for Obama spokesman explained.

The letter asserts strongly that "The two staffers who wrote this report for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are doing their best to bury the Sri Lankan government policies that led to their country's civil war. We believe that we know why: Sri Lanka sits on strategically important trading routes, and so the U.S. can not make an enemy of Sri Lanka. But we believe that America's support for human rights wherever they are attacked is ultimately more important than the strategic location of Sri Lanka. When the U.S. cozies up to brutal governments it shows a cynical disregard for justice which demeans every principle that America admires. It diminishes whatever respect and influence America has earned among the world's decent counties. Attachment to humane values is ultimately of more strategic importance to the U.S. than Sri Lanka's location."

In their letter Tamils for Obama writes "First, let us correct the misstatement that the conflict in Sri Lanka was a 'civil war.' The report suggests that the conflict broke out spontaneously in 1983, as though it were an effect without a cause. This ignores the most salient fact of 20th-century Sri Lankan history, which is that the central government in Colombo conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing that began almost as soon as Ceylon (as the country was called at the time) gained independence from Britain in 1948."

The letter then describes Sri Lanka's violent campaign against the Tamil population. "Between independence and 1983," the letter goes on, "when armed resistance to the government's anti-Tamil campaign began, the government's effort to drive the Tamils from the Island included the following:

1. "There were five organized and apparently government-sponsored anti-Tamil nationwide race riots. These riots which occurred in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, had leaders who carried voter lists and used them to direct rioters to Tamil households and institutions. These were pogroms, not spontaneous riots.

2. "Hundreds of thousands of Tamil citizens were stripped of their legal and political rights because some of their families had entered the country during British rule in the nineteenth century. (We must ask, how would the United States react if all those people whose ancestors arrived here after 1800 were stripped of their citizenship?) The government's version of history (disputed by Tamils) holds that Tamils first arrived on the island in the first century C.E., after the majority Singhalese had already settled there, and are therefore all illegitimate migrants and should be expelled. The Tamil's version of history says that they occupied the island millennia before the Singhalese arrived from north India. Either way, the government should not be allowed to disenfranchise a large group of citizens based on their ethnicity.

3. "Tamils were driven, by both riots and harassment by government-sponsored paramilitary organizations, from areas they had occupied for centuries. As the Tamils left, the areas were resettled by the government with Singhalese."

The Tamil spokesman then said "All of these actions are defined by the United Nations as genocide. We say that when armed resistance to these policies, the appearance of the 'Tamil Tigers,' began in 1983 it was a direct result of Colombo's aggression against the Tamil population. It is important to note that the resistance did not occur until after 35 years of oppression by the government. We are dismayed that the Senate report hides this.

"Concealing the causes of the long-running war may be diplomatically useful," the spokesman continued, "but it makes the report less useful and less credible. We suggest that diplomacy can only succeed if it is based on an accurate assessment of the circumstances, and this is not."

To read the complete letter, go to: http://www.Tamilsforobama.com/Letters/FRSenatecommittee2.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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