US State Department has a dialogue with Tamil Diaspora who have abandoned Sri Lanka
Posted on August 18th, 2009

Anjalika Silva USA

A US State Department press release of Wednesday August 12, 2009 following a meeting with 16 representatives of the Tamil Diaspora on August 11, 2009 to discuss the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka sends a message of many hues to those of us who have followed the actions of the US State Department. The Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake and US Charge dƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢Affairs in Sri Lanka have lost no time in building their relations with Tamil Diaspora many of whom have never set foot in Sri Lanka or ever experienced life and the privileges of those who have been successful role models to them as citizens of Sri Lanka. They continue the smear campaign and the misinformation without due consideration for the role that the Government is required to play. Above all, they disregard the safety of their own Tamil Citizens who have suffered enough over the years due to LTTE atrocities financed by the Diaspora. They do not know the suffering of the Tamil people being far removed from it all making their own people pawns in their grandiose plans for a homeland at any cost.

It is strange that the doors of the State Department are so readily open with a warm welcome and future promises of a dialogue– a one sided approach Robert Blake has brought back to the US. If the general Sri Lankan citizens with voting rights in the US want an appointment with the State Department, it is like pulling teeth. Or if granted an appointment, those that meet the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-other sideƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ are designated low level employees with their steno pad who take notes with no authority to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

It appears that the Tamil Diaspora has more clout and ready access to the State Department which is not a wonder with Robert Blake in the high chair. On our end, we like to see a quantified list of details that support discrimination and the claims that Tamils have no equal opportunities. Some moderate Tamils have challenged the false propaganda and come out to express that the inner circles of those who are hell bent on separating the country and continuing a disparaging campaign are not representing the truth or the majority Tamil aspirations.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Anecdotal references to discrimination have been accepted while they have never been substantiated with any quantified details of discrimination in employment, education, etc., with hard figures which will reveal the real truth to all of us. On the other hand we are aware of statistical data that prove that they are over represented in areas of privilege in professions and in educational opportunities. Regardless of race, we have all experienced discrimination at some point in our careers, university admissions and in general in every day life. This discrimination against the majority came not only from Tamils but our own people too.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ When I boarded a plane from London to Colombo on June 30th and returned to London on July 16th, the Sri Lankans on the flight heading to Colombo were 90% Tamils speaking freely in Tamil and I actually counted only 3 Sinhalese speaking families. Is this the land of Genocide they were headed to? Observing Colombo closely is something to experience today – as the safe heaven for the minorities. Not only do we see people of the minority races living and moving around freely, they are easily distinguishable in public places by language spoken and ethnic attire. Everyone goes about their business with tolerance.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ As for IDP camps, the positive action taken by the government is not filtering through to the international media. To some extent the Government is damaging their own reputation by not encouraging more open reporting. Visits by non journalists including a UN delegation that were in awe about the work being done are asking why there is no publicity given in the world press. There is no purpose in showing the IDP camps and the positive aspects to those who are not capable of putting pen to paper to tell the world that Sri Lanka is not a country of barbarians keeping people behind barbed wire and not letting them go home. The real story must be told.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The landmines deliberately planted by the LTTE to destroy their own, the need to weed out LTTE trained killers from finding their way back to disrupt the lives of civilians must be taken care of with thorough screening. Doing it right is more important than a race against time. The Tamil Diaspora is playing the same old broken record. Only the ugly isolated incidents involving one camp that has been a problem seem to be filtering. The world sees only the dismal side and not the good work of so many volunteer organizations, private corporations and individuals joining with the forces, showing compassion and helping to make life better while they wait for the process to be worked out.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ I was able to talk with independent volunteers from the Rotary Club and even volunteers with affiliation to the opposition – some young political aspirants who had positive things to say about the organization and care given to the IDPs. I also heard of attitudes of arrogance from IDPs endured by some volunteers who were there to help. But on the whole, the people exchanged pleasantries and were glad to be free from the fear for brutality they had experienced for so long and the sacrifice of their children that has never been acknowledged with sensitivity by the Tamil Diaspora. Due to lack of time I was not able to take up the offer of an attempt to get a trip out to these areas that I would have very much liked to make so that I could write first hand.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ These people are asking for speedy release but they disregard the fact that over 20,000 have been identified as those with some form of LTTE arms training that need to be evaluated and rehabilitated. This is not akin to turning off a switch. The person in charge of the Ambepussa project for youth, Dr. Hiranthi Wijemanne is working on the young people to rehabilitate the young minds and assimilate them into society. It is encouraging that some have even taken the A Level exams. They were so deprived of their childhood.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In this process, we may all be taken for a ride too and if the government is taking time that means they will do a thorough job. I don’t know what to think of this superficial reconciliation talks with Tamil Diaspora who have no intention of returning to Sri Lanka leaving behind the comfortable lives in the west. It will also defeat the purpose of creating an image of an unsafe Sri Lanka to justify more refugee admissions and state sponsored support in some countries where they live off the tax payers. They enjoy the west and cause turmoil for the Tamil people who wish to live freely in Sri Lanka which is a selfish motive. The State Department should be having a dialogue with the endemic Tamil Population that has suffered due to the financial power of the Tamil Diaspora that put arms in the hands of the LTTE to destroy their lives, families and their children.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The undercurrent to take over Sri Lanka may never be over as long as it is being manipulated by a group that has no intention of returning to Sri Lanka. We should all be vigilant before we end up like the Palestinians as we have no other land to call home.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Sinhalese are the minority in the world. If there are approximately 16-18 Million in Sri Lanka and a few more scattered throughout the world, they are still a minority when compared to the minorities in Sri Lanka that can identify with their counterparts globally. Why is there such a hue and cry about minority rights when the prosperity in the south is clearly equal or even over represented by minorities? It is the Sinhalese and Muslims who should be asking for minority rights to be able to live in the North and East without being discriminated by race. The model seen in the south and the west is what Sri Lanka needs to emulate in the North and the East.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In this recent trip to Colombo, in the major shopping complexes, I heard more Tamil speaking citizens than I have ever experienced before. Isn’t that alone a sign of freedom?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ While the focus is on the IDPs and giving them even more than they ever expected, we are neglecting some of the social needs of the poor in the south. I heard of many families of war widows who are homeless and some who need medical attention. These are all on the back burner at the moment. As someone wrote in the newspapers recently, how much has the Tamil Diaspora contributed for the needs of IDPs? How did they have Rs. 193 million to deposit in banks opened within the camps in a matter of 2 days? Why are these called “concentration camps” when they have banks, schools, hairstylists from Colombo giving them beauty treatment and they are being taken care of although the process is taking long? Why is this not highlighted? Why is the Sri Lankan media not making inroads to the foreign media? We are powerless as ordinary citizens without authority or support to make the world see what is being done. One or two people appointed by the government as spokesmen do not suffice and the style of communication is not penetrating where it should go. Mass media involvement is imperative and the use of well trained messengers is critical.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Many of us contributed to IDPs and to Api Wenuwen Api recently but after seeing other needs in Sri Lanka, I believe we will need to concentrate on those who are not on the radar screen and do not have a voice to demand. The members of the forces who sacrificed so much have become bill board material but they have needs to be met that they cannot ask. We must not forget that in the euphoria of winning the war, we forgot the tears of those who lost loved ones in that cause. Not all of them have received all the help they need.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ I have no regard for John Holmes, Solheim and even Robert Blake, Nambiar and the gang who have been talking to KP an Interpol fugitive who was against the democratic governments of Sri Lanka, India and even threatened Malaysia where he had close ties to an extremist Hindu movement. The fact that KP met with the Taliban and was a part of the network of terrorist groups as a representative of the LTTE, makes one wonder why the State Department is not more careful in their choice of Tamil Diaspora who could well be those who support an international fugitive who has violated sacred laws of many democratic nations including the USA by supporting a terrorist outfit. Why is the Homeland Security Act in the USA an exception for those who supported the LTTE ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a banned Terrorist Organization declared by the FBI when ordinary citizens like us are searched, screened and investigated as suspect in every aspect of our lives in the name of terrorism? Is it fashionable to be so mixed up? Why can’t we voice our objections too?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Anjalika Silva

3 Responses to “US State Department has a dialogue with Tamil Diaspora who have abandoned Sri Lanka”

  1. nuwans Says:

    A very nice analysis that show some realities of what is happening in Sri Lanka. Yes, I agree that there are many things that may seem unfair and unreasonable. But we must also recognize the fact that, there are good reasons why that have happened. A careful analysis of geo politcs and where Sri Lanka stand in it would provide some reasons for where we are today.

    First of all for the IDP situation, govt. and many other organizations may be doing a lot. But they are not given publicity. Access to these camps are restricted. Those who try to help are discouraged or not allowed to talk to those people. Outsiders who see this treatment has a fair doubt that government is trying to hide something. If the government is honest, they should allow access to the people who try to help this situation. Truth, whatever it may need to come out freely and then it will get media attention. So those who are doubtful about the government agenda with IDP have a reasonable doubt in my opinion. It is all about perception.

    IDP’s are not the only issue in Sri Lanka, there are so many ultra poor people in Sri Lanka. They have almost next to nothing to survive. Many of them have lost loved once and family providers to the war. No one is their to care for them. I have heard so many stories of them through some of my Sri Lankan friends who work with local organizations to help them. No politician care about them or see their plight. They only ask for their votes.

    For the treatment we get from western countries, there are reasons for that too. During the past few years, our diplomacy was very arrogant and unfriendly. When we talk to super powers we would have done with the understanding that they are super powers. Instead, we chased them away or make friends with their enemies. Sri Lankan has every right to do so. However, at the same time, it must be ready to face the consequences for its actions. While doing all that, we can not in anyway expect those countries to show respect and fairness to us that we never showed to them. We have blasted and made so many cheap shots at Britian, USA and other countries. We have mistreated their diplomats by never showing them the respect they expect as respectable world leaders. At the same time we have increased ties with dictatorship regimes like Iran who has no respect for human rights. All these things does not make those western countries happy. And obviously, they will react to those events and those reactions may not be favorable to us. Is that fair ? Nothing is fair in this world. We must know the geo politics and must play the game right if we need to win. Making powerful enemies would not serve us well. We will have to face consequences for doing that. So whatever we may experience at the US state department may have to do with how Sri Lanka treated United States in diplomacy.

    At the end, Sri Lanka still needs help from outside to survive. We need foriegn aid. So we go asking for money as loans or donations. We must ask ourself that what would we do if a begger slap in your face, hit you in your stomach and ask for your help.

    Sometimes before we put the blame on others for everything that is happening to us, we must point the finger to us and ask what we have done to deserve this. Because nothing happen without a good reason. Some will always take advantage in our failure. Tamil diaspora surely seems like doing that.

  2. jay-ran Says:

    Where were these LTTE Terrorist supporters when the ordinary civilians then who are IDPs now? Did these Tamil diaspora who have been financing the LTTE to arm themseves with suicide squads,machines etc to kill innocent Sinhales, Muslims as well as Tamils, ever protested to LTTE for keeping the civilians under their gun during the last lapse of the war? What were these so kind hearted State Department officials doing at that time?

    What a shame on a GREAT COUNTRY like USA to entertain Terrorist supporters who are shedding crockodile tears now!!!

  3. Chintha Says:

    Why is the Homeland Security Act in the USA an exception for those who supported the LTTE – a banned Terrorist Organization declared by the FBI when ordinary citizens like us are searched, screened and investigated as suspect in every aspect of our lives in the name of terrorism?
    USA politicians are currupted beyond our imagination. The massive monies colleted for terrorist operations end in these politicins hands. They are happy to represent the Tamils on any grounds , eagerly get blinded by the lies and misinformation campaighn, because of the MONEY factor. Who cares what hapens to Sri Lanka or its citizens. The fact they are forgetting is there are more than 400,000 NON_TAMIL Sri Lankans living in USA disgusted about these FRAUDS against SL. It looks like the LTTE appointed Robert blake as thier Leader, he has started to mension non-existing racial discrimination to Tamils. We all should know what discrimination is there for Tamils in SL being Tamil.
    We should ask the State Departmnet to publish them.

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