Posted on September 21st, 2021


( Continued from B4)

TNA has had  continuous contact with the USA. Rajiva Wijesinghe recalled that, during Eelam war IV, he met Sampanthan in close conclave with the US Ambassador and the European Union representative, at the resident of the Political affairs Officer of the US embassy.

In 2011, a delegation of TNA parliamentarians held two days of talks with US state Dept officials and US congressmen. In 2014Ambassador Butenis had met Sampanthan before she left for UK to attend a conference on the future of the Tamil community. They had discussed how the Diaspora could be used to influence a national election in Sri Lanka.

In 2017   there was a meeting between the visiting US Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Alice Wells and TNA’s Sampanthan and Sumanthiran. The meeting was held at the residence of the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap. TNA issued a statement which said Mr.Sampanthan apprised the Ambassador of the current political situation in the country especially the matters pertaining to the Constitution making process.”

Sampanthan had said, “Every Tamil person in this country has been affected by violence, and we have been deprived of our rights in this country. As a result of it over 1.5 million Tamil people have fled the country. We want the remaining Tamil people in this country to live with dignity and those who have left the country to comeback.

In 2018 Sampanthan met F. James Sensenbrenner, visiting United States Member of Congress and His Chief of Staff Matt Bisenius   in his Office as Leader of the Opposition. M.A. Sumanthiran was also present at the meeting. TNA issued a statement. “Sampanthan apprised the member on recently concluded Local Government Elections and the resultant political situation. Explaining the Constitution making process, He also emphasized that the Constitution must be approved by the people at a referendum.

A bipartisan delegation of Members of Congress from the US House of Representatives also visited in 2018. It was led by Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, (Republican) and Congressman Henry Cuellar (Democrat). They came during the US Congressional recess to further strengthen ties between the two governments. They held productive meetings with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya and Opposition Leader, Sampanthan.

In May 2018, a delegation from the House Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Congress visited Sri Lanka. The House Armed Services Committee, a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives, is a powerful Committee, responsible for the supervision of armed forces and the Department of Defence. The delegation was led by its Chairman Mac Thornberry.   

The visit was to find out ways of strengthening defense cooperation between Sri Lanka and USA.  The US embassy had arranged for the delegation to meet with civil society organizations and the TNA for private discussions. Why did Ambassador Keshap arrange a meeting between the visiting House Armed Services Committee representatives and the TNA, the media asked.  

 The US embassy said nothing about these meetings but the TNA issued a detailed statement to the media. The TNA statement said, “Sampanthan reminded the delegation that the Government of Sri Lanka has given a Commitment to fully implement the UNHRC resolution adopted in 2015 before March 2019. They must   ensure that this is done.

Sampanthan also told the US delegation that the legitimate demands of the Tamil people in finding a lasting solution to the national question could only be addressed through adopting a new Constitution.

Since 1988 every successive government and President have made several attempts to change the present Constitution, therefore, this should not be a difficult task for the majority of Sinhala people to understand. “We want a solution within a united undivided and indivisible country. The power-sharing arrangements should be in accordance with the international covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Sampanthan told Thornberry:

The Tamil people are not going to be second-class citizens in this country. ” If the Government does not deliver, if things do not go well and if things are not achieved within a certain time frame, our people will be forced to rethink our position. We are unhappy about the way the country is progressing,” continued Sampanthan.

The International community cannot be a spectator anymore with regard to Sri Lanka. If the government of Sri Lanka continues to fail in their commitments the international community must take action to safeguard the victims and ensure the non-recurrence of the past, concluded Sampanthan to Thornberry.

In February 2020 Sampanthan told visiting US Congressional delegation led by Rep. Ami Bera Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Non-Proliferation that unless the Tamil community was given a meaningful political solution, things could turn bad for the country. We want a political solution based on the power-sharing arrangement that is practiced all over the world.

In July 2021 US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B Teplitz and a group of American delegates  met a TNA delegation at the TNA leader’s official residence in Colombo. The TNA leader was accompanied by MPs M.A. Sumanthiran, Selvam Adaikalanathan and former MP Mavai Senathirajah.

Sampanthan told the media that they had a discussion with Teplitz about the promises made by the Sri Lanka government to the international community on resolving the issues faced by the Tamil people.

The two groups had a lengthy and fruitful discussion on Sri Lankan Government’s commitment to the international community to resolve the Tamil issue and the resolutions discussed at the UN Human Rights Council, said TNA

 We told the Ambassador that all governments were not sincere in their proposals to resolve the grievances of the Tamil people in the North and the East. Therefore, this issue had been dragging on for decades. The time has come for concrete solution to the issues faced by the Tamils in the country,” TNA said.

The Provincial Council system alone was not enough to resolve the issue in the North and the East. It was important for the two provinces of the North and the East to be considered as a single political entity and to be governed by the Tamil people. The international community must directly intervene .The full intervention of the United States and the international community is needed to find a clear solution, the TNA concluded. (Continued)

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