Tamils for Obama: Two Cheers for Ambassador Patricia Butanis

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Patricia Butanis, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, will be leaving her job shortly. Tamils for Obama takes this occasion to remember the things that she did that were helpful, and a few things she did that were not helpful to Tamils.

“Three cheers is what we offer to people we want to praise,” said a press spokesman for Tamils for Obama. “We want to give two cheers for Patricia Butanis, who is departing from her job as American ambassador to Colombo. She did some things we think were praise-worthy, and some others we think were counter-productive.

“Here are some things she did for which we are grateful,“ said the spokesman. “They are:

1.    “She pushed the Colombo government to go forward with the resettlement of internally displaced Tamils. We think that Colombo would not have made any effort without her pressure in this matter, so we give her thanks.
2.    “She pressed the government to withdraw SL Army soldiers from Tamil inhabited areas. The government ignored her, so nothing was accomplished, but she made a sincere effort.
3.    “Ambassador Butanis made many trips to Tamil areas in the north and east. She looked after American-funded relief efforts. Her visits encouraged the Tamils, who saw that the rest of the world had not put them out of their thoughts. We praise her for this.
4.    “Ms. Butanis opened an American Cultural Center and Library in Jaffna, which local Tamils were able to use. Many of our libraries were destroyed during the war (some of them deliberately) so this was a real help.

“There were also some things she did which we did not like,” said the spokesman. “These included:

1.    “When the Colombo government proposed setting up the ‘Parliamentary Select Committee’ to achieve a lasting political solution to the country’s ethnic troubles, she supported it. In our view, this committee was a talking shop whose purpose was to create delays while the government pursued its goals of ethnic cleansing in the north and east. We think her support for the Parliamentary Select Committee was naïve, and served only to help Colombo advance its evil goals. We think that without outside mediation nothing good can come from such a committee, and we think that this should have been clear to Ms. Butanis also.
2.    “She also supported the LLRC and the ‘Action Plan’ for implementing its recommendations. This, we believe, was another time-wasting tactic by the Sri Lankan government that allowed the government to carry out its ethnic cleansing programs while pretending to be trying to make peace. Ms. Butanis should have been sophisticated enough to see through this ruse.

“We hope that the next American Ambassador,” concluded the spokesman, “applies wise and appropriate skepticism when dealing with the Sri Lankan government.”

Tamils for Obama is a politically active group of Tamil Americans. We supported Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama in the Democratic primary and US general election in 2008. We believe that over 70,000 Tamil civilians were massacred during the last weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war. We have watched the behavior of the Sri Lankan Singhalese victors after the war, and we strongly conclude that Tamils in Sri Lanka will only be safe when this unfortunate island is divided into two states.

To contact the group, call at (617) 765-4394 and speak to, or leave a message for, the Communication Director, Tamils for Obama.

Email: info(at)TamilsforObama(dot)com

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