Tamils to New York Times: 'You Might Want to Rewrite Your Puff Piece About Travel to Sri Lanka'

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The Times published a travel piece last winter that named Sri Lanka as the number-one vacation opportunity for 2010. Amnesty International reports that the article has become part of the public relations package for Sri Lankan foreign Minister G. L. Peiris, who is "currently on a public relations tour through the United States, touting his country as the new paradise for foreign investment, and dismissing war crimes allegations on the way." Tamils for Obama asks the Times editors if they plan to amend the travel article.

Last winter the New York Times printed a travel article that named Sri Lanka the best place to go for a holiday in 2010.

"We know that travel articles are not hard news," said a spokesman for Tamils for Obama, "but we wonder if The New York Times now wishes they had not written such nice things about Sri Lanka.

"We know that Amnesty International (AI) is keeping a close eye on G.L. Peiris as he tours the U.S. Peiris will meet with Secretary Clinton today, and AI called it 'Secretary Clinton's shot at uncovering justice for Sri Lanka's war crimes.' Maybe that will ruin his public relations tour."

Yesterday, Amnesty International contributed an article to The Huffington Post. In it they mentioned that the Times' article is part of the press kit that is distributed by Sri Lankan embassy staff wherever the Foreign Minister is speaking. The travel article, titled "The 31 Places to Go in 2010," names Sri Lanka first among the 31.

"We have a question for the editors of The Times. The newspaper described Sri Lanka as a place 'rich in natural beauty and cultural splendors.' We want to know whether the editors know that the Sri Lankan is trying to destroy all of the cultural splendors that were built by its ancient Tamil population, as we described in a letter we sent to Mrs. Clinton this week. (http://www.tamilsforobama.com/pressrelease/sri+lanka+hillary+clinton+G.L+Peiris.html ). We think this is a kind of cultural ethnic cleansing, and we guess that the New York Times would be ashamed to be associated with it."

The Tamils for Obama spokesman said 'Amnesty International tells us that Sri Lankan officials (like Mr. Peiris) "have had difficulties hiding their self-confidence following their successful attempts (so far) to evade official international scrutiny,"'' and we said so in our letter to editors of The New York Times.

The spokesman continued "The Huffington Post piece that Amnesty International wrote mentions that the Colombo government has formed 'nine ad hoc commissions of inquiry' to investigate its own crimes. We think it is no surprise that Colombo found itself not guilty in almost every case."

The Amnesty International article writes that the inquiries "lacked credibility," "have delayed criminal investigations," and that "very few prosecutions… have resulted." Numerous believable bodies--AI, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group and the US State Department--have cited gross human rights violations by both sides in the civil war, but notes that "to date, not one single individual has been held accountable for the crimes committed."

"We are eager to read what The New York Times replies," said the Tamils for Obama spokesman.

To read the letter to the editors of The New York Times got to: http://www.tamilsforobama.com/pressrelease/Letter+NYTIMES+TRAVEL+SRI+LANKA.html

To read The Times travel article praising Sri Lanka, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/travel/10places.html

To read The Amnesty International piece in the Huffington Post go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amnesty-international/sec-clintons-shot-at-unco_b_591815.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 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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