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- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil National Forum Selected Writings - Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham > Request for Concrete Advice from Ambassador Willis

Selected Writings by Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham

Request for Concrete Advice from Ambassador Willis
[together with response by Ambassador Willis]

9 March 2001

Hon. Ambassador Ashley Wills
American Embassy,
Colombo
Sri Lanka
March 9,2001

Dear Hon. Ambassador Wills,

Request for Concrete Advice

I was not in the audience in Jaffna, but in this age of the Internet the whole world is an audience and we all feel it when a butterfly flutters its wings in the Amazon, Kandy, Jaffna or Washington D.C. I was able to get a copy of the full text of your speech from the State Department's Bureau of South Asian Affairs. I appreciate your expression of sensitivity to the suffering of the Tamils and the Sinhalese, visiting Chemmani sites, and your candor in outlining the official opinion of the United States.

Because of 50 years of failures to find a solution, Tamils would, and I am sure Sinhalese would also, like to hear concrete advice, from the oldest and most influential democracy on Earth, for us to consider and influence our leadership. US official opinion and the message you want us to take to the LTTE leadership are, when taken together, bewildering sign posts which points to no solutions considering the tragic events of the past 50 years.

The reality is that Tamils want a separate state, which the Sinhalese, the US, India, Britain and probably many other countries will not support. The Sinhala government wants to implement the existing constitution, and has amendments on paper which a majority of Members of Parliament and a majority of Sinhalese or Tamils will not accept. Hence the continuation of war.

If we move from the opposite positions of separation and the draft constitution, towards the center, the two next stations are, confederation and US style Federalism. That is, two or more states, one of which would be the NorthEast, with their own constitutions, judiciary, police forces, elected Governors and state legislatures in addition to the current Parliament. Both options would satisfy the Thimpu Principles, which will apply to both sides.

Which one of the two stations will the US support? Or is there any other station(s) even further towards the Center that does not depend on the goodwill or implicit trust of either party? This is where we want the US or its educational or Think Tank institutions, to help us develop concrete political solutions, rather than repeat the same strategies that have failed us for 50 years.

We are not asking for the might of the US, UN or India to impose a solution. Nor are we expecting you to intervene on one or the other's behalf. What we ask is for the US, reluctant as it may be to intervene except where its self-interests are at stake, to propose constructive alternatives for both parties and their civic societies to debate and seek further friendly assistance to arrive at a compromise solution. Or provide the services of the best of the US institutions to assist the leadership and the civic society of both communities to evolve a political solution. Such a solution may become a model to solve other long violent ethnic conflicts. As of now, neither communities' civic societies or coalition of interest groups have any approach or proposal that is acceptable to the leaders of the two communities, military or otherwise.

I am glad you have recognized a change in the LTTE. Having lived and participated in the life of the people in the North, I can assure you that the LTTE will practice a form of modern democracy without the ills that you see currently in Sri Lanka. It will give a fresh start for democracy in Sri Lanka. The LTTE's Environmental policy is in line with the UNEP guidelines; Agriculture policy reflect principles of sustainable agriculture recommended by the universities in the US, and the industrial and economic development policies are a reflection of a free market economic system including stock exchange and foreign capital investment incentives. The education system is a combination of the best of the New Zealand, Australia, British and US systems. Tamils can look forward to a drug free and corruption-less future under an LTTE administration. The rest of Sri Lanka can only gain by such policies in the NorthEast, not corrupted or harmed by it.

You have said, "…this war must end, the sooner the better… there is no military solution to this conflict… favor negotiated outcome… the economic and human cost of the war is intolerable… all that is needed is the political will to negotiate…" I have no doubt that most Tamils and the Sinhalese will agree with your conclusions above. As you know, the LTTE has ceased all offensive operations in the NorthEast and the rest of the country since February 24 but the Government is yet to reciprocate. Nor has the government lifted the ban on medicine to the Vanni.

As your Embassy and the State Department records will show, I have been in touch with the LTTE leadership in my yearly visits to the Vanni. I have taken informal messages and brought back messages both before and after the designation. I will be glad to take any advice you may have on a constructive political solution to the LTTE leadership in the Vanni, confidentially and immediately, if in my opinion, it is something a majority of the Tamil will consider a just solution.

Sincerely,



N. Ethirveerasingam, Ph.D. (Cornell)
 

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