Ranking Member of US Foreign Affairs Subcommittee questions Blake on Double Standards in US Foreign Policy toward Sri Lanka
Posted on February 28th, 2013

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ CongressmanƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Eni F.H.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ FaleomavaegaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s statement related to Sri Lanka:

Ranking member of US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega on Tuesday (Feb 26) expressed his deep concerns over the double standards applied in the US foreign policy toward Sri Lanka.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Speaking at the committee hearing on ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-The Rebalance to Asia: Why South Asia MattersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ , the congressman underscored that US should find a better way forward than using UN resolutions to improve its relationships with a strategically important country such asƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Sri Lanka .

Republican Party congressional representative Steve Chabot from Ohio currently chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Asia and Pacific. Ranking member Eni F.H. Faleomavaega is a Democratic Party congressional representative from American Samoa. US Assistant Secretary of State , Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake and Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau East Asian and Pacific Affairs Joseph Y. Yun provided testimonies during the hearing .

Following is the portion of CongressmanƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Eni F.H.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ FaleomavaegaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s statement related to Sri Lanka:

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Regarding Sri Lanka Mr. Chairman I agree with theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ KerryLugarƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  congressional report which declares we need to re chart US strategy in Sri Lanka beyond humanitarian and political reforms .ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-inconsistent policies lead to a loss of credibility for the United StatesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Eni Faleomavaega

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-The US simply cannot afford to lose Sri Lanka due to its strategic importance. Last week I had the privilege of visiting Sri Lanka and met with president Rajapaksa for more than 2 hours . I also met with governor of the Northern Province.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  And personally visited Jaffna because I wanted to see for myself the post conflict developments since 2009,when Sri Lanka finally became the first country in the world to eradicateƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  terrorism on its own soil,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  by defeating the Tamil Tigers ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” which remains listed as a terrorist organization by 32 countries including our own country Mr. Chairman, India , Canada and the members of the European Union , and dubbed by the FBI as one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-After a 30-year terrorist conflict or war the challenges Sri Lankan government faces are enormous. But the strides the Government has made to rebuild in a way that establishes lasting peace and equality for all citizens should be firmly acknowledged.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-The United States should join Australia in praising the work that Sri Lankan government has done in the North and East of the Island in such a short period since the war. As Australian deputy opposition leader Julie Bishops and the parliamentary delegation she led recently, stated on their visit.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Regrettably in the resolution it intendedsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  to submit again to the United Nations Human Rights council, theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  US fails to mention one , not even one positive development for Sri Lanka . Such failures suggest that the United States is not being even handed when it comes to dealing with sensitive human rights issues across the globe.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-And I am Mr. Chairman, deeply concerned that our inconsistent policies which lead to a loss of credibilityƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  for the United States which would negatively impact our relations in the Asia Pacific region for years to come.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-So I call upon my government , the United States of America to find a better way forward rather than using United Nations resolutions to destabilize developing nations like Sri Lanka while ignoring human rights Abuses in nations like Indonesia , where our geological strategic and military interests supersede our Human Rights Agenda.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-The US led United NationsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  resolution should also be withdrawnƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ for focusing only on the last few months of the war and failing to acknowledge therefore almost 30 years, Mr. Chairman, the Tamil Tigers hacked to death innocent men , women and children in Sri Lanka, carried out some 378 suicide attacks more than any other terrorist organization in the world.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-We also do not need to criticize Sri Lanka for borrowing money from China. And by the way I was there Mr. Chairman . In terms of our ability to provide assistance to these third world countries, ChinaƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  was able to provide Sri Lanka with 500 million dollars of low interest loans, for them to rebuild their sea port as well as a brand new international airport that I was there to witnessƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

During the Question and Answer period, Sri Lanka was brought up on two occasions. First, Chairman of the Sub Committee Congressman Steve Chabot focused the first portion of his allotted time to the U.S. involvement in Sri Lanka.

Congressman Chabot asserted that attempts at reconciliation have been disappointing in many respects ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” particularly with leaders talking about repealing the 13th amendment. He suggested that the U.S. policy has not been successful in bringing reconciliation to fruition. He would urge the Government of Sri Lanka ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to move towards a more genuine reconciliation with the Tamil community, and inquired as to what steps the U.S. Administration was taking to that effect.

In his response, Assistant Secretary Robert Blake reiterated prior statements on the U.S. position regarding Sri Lanka. He maintained that the U.S. supports the domestic Sri Lankan process (manifest in the LLRC) with the understanding that there would be rapid progress thereafter.

Secretary Blake suggested that progress on implementation of the LLRC recommendations has been slow and that the Administration is disappointed that the government of Sri Lanka ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ has failed to take a number of steps toward political reconciliation, including not proceeding with elections in the Northern province for provincial councils in the near four years since the end of the conflict, and little progress on devolution of power. He also raised concerned with a backward trend on democracy, referencing the impeachment of the Chief Justice, the concerns with regard to the 13th amendment, etc.

Secretary ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Blake confirmed that the Administration proposes continued diplomatic and additional pressure from the upcoming resolution at the UNHRC to support implementation of LLRC recommendations and progress on reconciliation within Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s own domestic process.

Secondly, Ranking Member Faleomavaega reiterated a number of his points from his opening remarks, raising concern over the double standard with which the U.S. Administration seems to approach human rights in the context of its foreign policy.

The following is the transcripts of the discussion between CongressmanƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Eni F.H.Faleomavaega and US Assistant Secretary of StateƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Robert O. Blake:

Rep. Faleomavaega:

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-I do want to say to Secretary Blake, this is not in any way a personal attack on you , but I do want to follow up on the ChairmenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s questioning about the situation in Sri Lanka .ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-I have mentioned in my statement about the double standards that we are applyingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  in as afar as violation of Human Rights and the sense that I have is why is the most powerful country in the world picking on a small little country like Sri Lanka- the size of West Virginia , 60,000 square miles with only 3 million people- andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  yetƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  in Sri Lanka we are talking about 21 million people living there.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-The serious question that I have is that for 27 or 29 years this country was in the state of civil war. It is not a conflict.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It is not the question of the Tamil people asking for more autonomy.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  We have to understand not all Tamils are members of this terrorist organization called the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers, that our government along withƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  32 other countries also categorized as a terrorist organization.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-And in the process you are talking about for 27 years some eightyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  to hundred thousand Sri Lankans ended up dead. Lot of innocent men ,women and childrenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-What I am trying to seek here is that there also was a country that had civil war. It was the United States of America, for four years we ended up with 600,000 of our soldiers died form that terrible conflict. Ant it was not the question of Southern States asking for more autonomy. They wanted to secede,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  pull away from the mother country , just like the Tamil Tigers wanted to do in their effortsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  in seeking this war against the Government .ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-My concern here is that we a looking at such a small little sequence, of this twoƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  or three months that now we are questioning . And the reason why we have this resolution before the United Nations Human Rights Council, but forgetting the fact for 29 years that Sri Lankan government has had to deal with this terrorist organization that I just could not believe the atrocities that were committed by these people.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-And now overnight we just thought that weƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ve got to hit this resolution against them this is where my concern with double standards.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Our government to the 10 year period that we were in war in Vietnam . In Vietnam Mr. Secretary, letƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s ask the tens and thousands of women and children innocent civilians that we exposed to Agent Orange , when we were there for the ten year period . LetƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s ask the people in Laos and Cambodia for the six million pounds of cluster bombs we dropped there, and these countered never declared war on us.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Where is the consistency in our standards as far as Human Rights are concerned . We are pointing the finger at this little country Sri Lanka. andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  the thing that perhaps may be we need to clean up our own backyard , as suggested may be we be little more consistent , if we are going to do it against Sri Lanka. LetƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s make sure that we are clean ourselves.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-So I just need your comment on thatƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  as I ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”ve gotƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  only one minute left on thisƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

Secretary Blake:

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Well Thank you Mr. Ranking Member, let me just say, with respect to the LTTE we fully agree. The United States was one of the very first countries to declare the LTTE one of the foreign terrorist organizations. And we have a long line of public statements and other condemnations that we issue for the terrible acts of terrorism that they are responsible for.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-We also took concrete actions to help Sri Lanka . We gave our them Radar systems. So they would be able to detect the LTTE.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

Rep. Faleomavaega:

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-In fact helped the Sri Lankan government to fight against the Navy that the Tamil Tigers had.

Secretary Blake:

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Exactly , We certainly took a very uncompromising view with respect to the LTTE. But again at the very end of the war, the question is what happened to those ten to forty thousand civilians who were killed.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-I think everybody in Sri Lanka believe there needs to be closure on that question.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Closure needs to be achieved through this Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission process. ItƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s a domestic process so it should have the support of the government. And we hope that would continue. ThatƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s the purpose of this resolution. But there needs to be justice Mr. Chairman,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  for there to be closureƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  and for there needsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  to be reconciliation between these two communities .ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  So, thatƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s what we are trying to achieveƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

Rep. Faleomavaega:

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-I know IƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”ve only got, ten more seconds Mr. Secretary. I just want to say, that was part of the subject that I discussed personally with the president of Sri Lanka, and he is concerned. In fact, he is spending more time on the Northern Province , and all the amount of resources their trying to do, to make this as part of the reconciliationƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  process.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Thank you Mr. Chairman.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

You can find the Video at the below link:


One Response to “Ranking Member of US Foreign Affairs Subcommittee questions Blake on Double Standards in US Foreign Policy toward Sri Lanka”

  1. Vis8 Says:

    Robert Ooooooooooooo’OBlake must be in a blue funk now! Karma is paying back for those who chose to further their own political interests by targeting Sri Lanka……. These losers will only live to learn who their beloved “Tamil diaspora” really are.

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