US Policy on SL should focus on supporting reconciliation and
bilateral relationship-Heath Shuler
Shuler informs the Congress
Congressman Heath Shuler in a letter has informed the
U.S. Congress that the U.S. policy on Sri Lanka should focus on
supporting the ongoing reconciliation efforts in the country. Also, he
has emphasised that the U.S. should strive to strengthen the
relationship with its long-time ally in the South Asia.
The letter addressed to all congressmen was released
on Friday (15 July) prior to a screening of a propaganda video against
Sri Lanka at Capitol Hill. The sources in the Washington D.C. said the
event was organized by the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
The organizers barred any representation from the Sri Lankan government
at the panel discussion, the sourced added.
According to the sources, Congressman Shuler has
decided to share his own experience over Sri Lanka with his colleagues,
after he felt the biased and misleading nature of the event. Congressman
Shuler was the first U.S. Congressman to visit Sri Lanka after the war
ended in May 2009. Accompanied by Ambassador Jaliya Wickrmasuriya, he
travelled the war affected areas and met large number internally
Congressman Heath Shuler represents 11th District of
North Carolina since 2006. He is notable for his work to improve
transparency and accountability of government finance.
The following is the full text of the letter:
Today, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International
-USA are screening a controversial documentary about Sri Lanka. There is
a great deal of misinformation and debate about what occurred during the
final days of Sri Lanka's civil war. I am not an expert in international
law or Southeast Asia, but I do wish to share what I have seen with my
In May of 2009, I visited Sri Lanka just Days after
the 26-year civil conflict against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam
("Tamil Tigers") ended. I saw the toll that the 26-year long terror
campaign waged by the Tamil tigers had on the nation. Our own
government designated the Tigers as one of the world's worst terror
groups. The Tigers invented the suicide bomber's vest. Over the past
quarter of a century, the Tigers rained terror on the nation, including
suicide bombing, summary executions, ethnic cleansing, recruitment of
child soldiers, drug smuggling, piracy, international money laundering.
The Tamil Tigers embraced brutal tactics like the use of child soldiers
and female suicide bombers. The terrorists killed a long list of
government officials, including a Sri Lankan president, a foreign
minister and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In the final
phase of the war, the Tigers took nearly 145,000 Tamil civilian hostages
as a human shield.
When I arrived in Sri Lanka, after the end of the war,
the optimism and hope of the Sri Lankan people was palpable. With the
defeat of the Tamil Tigers, for the first time in decades Sri Lankans
felt safe from terror. Even the Tamils I met in the recently constructed
IDP camps felt optimistic about the future of their country, knowing
that security would bring much-needed progress to everyone in the
Since my visit, I have been following the progress Sri
Lanka has made. Sri Lanka is the only democracy to have defeated a
terrorist organization in recent memory. Since the end of the civil
war, there has not been a single terrorist attack in Sri Lanka. Based on
news accounts and UN documents, almost all of the 300,000 internally
displaced persons in Sri Lanka have returned to their homes, over 11,000
former LTTE fighters and child soldiers have been rehabilitated and
re-integrated into society, and nearly 60% of the 2 million landmine
have been cleared. The government has established a commission to
investigate wrongdoing conducted by both sides during the conflict and
to foster national healing and reconciliation.
Neighbored by Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, Sri
Lanka is an enduring democracy and long time ally of the U.S. In this
region of the world, we cannot discount our long- standing and strategic
relationship with Sri Lanka, Including naval and Intelligence
Corporation. Based on my experience on the ground, I believe U.S.
Policy towards Sri Lanka should be focused on
supporting their ongoing efforts towards reconciliation and engagement
with the United State. As we work together to develop our policy on Sri
Lanka, I am happy to tell you about my experience there. If you are
interested in arranging a meeting with me to discuss Sri Lanka, Please
do not hesitate to contact Julie Fishman in my office at Juile.firstname.lastname@example.org.