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U.S. Policy towards Sri Lanka should focus on supporting reconciliation and bilateral relationship-

US Policy on SL should focus on supporting reconciliation and bilateral relationship-Heath Shuler

Congressman Heath 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 displaced people.

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:

Dear Colleague

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 own eyes.

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 country.

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 or 225-6401.


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