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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION

Last updated
30/06/07

United States & the Tamil Struggle
[see also Comment 1,
Comment 2  and Tamils are getting a lesson in Realpolitik ]
The Ugly American - - William J.Lederer and Eugene Burdick, "The multi-million-copy bestseller that coined the phrase for tragic American blunders abroad. First published in 1958, The Ugly American became a runaway national bestseller for its slashing exposť of American arrogance, incompetence, and corruption in Southeast Asia." As Important Today As When It Was Written.. more
Jeffrey J. Lunstead was sworn in as Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives on July 28, 2003. He is a member of the US Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor. He entered the Foreign Service in 1977 and has served overseas in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Malaysia. In Washington, DC, he has served as South Asia Bureau Coordinator for Afghanistan and as Director for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. He has also served in several positions dealing with international environmental issues, including serving as Director of the Office for Environmental Policy. He has received two Superior Honor Awards and one Meritorious Honor Award.
Mr. Lunstead received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 and his Ph.D. (with distinction) in South Asia Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977. He is the author of several articles on ancient and modern South Asia. He speaks several Asian languages. Mr. Lunstead served in the United States Navy from 1969-70.
Art, Truth & Politics - Harold Pinter, Nobel Lecture, 2005 "I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory." more

International Relations
in a Multi Lateral World

United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Jeffrey Lunstead:
The Return of the Ugly American?
- the arrogance & mostly, the incompetence -

10 January 2006

"...In the case of individuals, we do not conclude that wealth brings with it, wisdom. It is the same with countries. Wisdom is not always a function of gross national product... Ambassador Lunstead and the Bush Administration that he represents may want to pay attention to the words of  Marcus Aurelius "Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too."

TamilNet Report of US Ambassador's Speech to American Chamber of Commerce in Colombo,9 January 2006 together with comments by tamilnation.org
An Open Letter to Jeffrey Lunstead, US Ambassador for Sri Lanka  from V.Thangavelu, Canada, 10 January 2006
An Open Letter to the US Ambassador from Professor Aaron Rajah, San Diego, California, USA, 12 January 2006
Group Response by US Ambasssador, 17 January 2006
Response by Ilankai Thamil Sangam, USA, 20 January 2006
US Tamils question timing of Ambassador Lunstead's speech, 22 January 2006
 

TamilNet Report of US Ambassador's Speech to American Chamber of Commerce in Colombo, 10 January 2006 together with comments by tamilnation.org

The United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Jeffrey Lunstead, told a business gathering in Colombo on Monday, 9 January 2006,  that the US wanted the "cost of a return to war to be high," in Sri Lanka. Resisting from accusing the Sri Lankan Armed forces in the escalation of the recent violence, the US Ambassador, in his address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka, said that the US wanted it to be clear, if the Tigers chose to "abandon peace," they will face a "stronger, more capable and more determined" Sri Lankan military. Sri Lanka is at a tricky point in its history, the US Ambassador said explaining that it was not clear "if Sri Lanka was at a crossroads, or at a cliff’s edge."

The United States wants to remain committed to the peace process in Sri Lanka, and in helping the "legitimate governing bodies of Sri Lanka to prepare for their roles in developing and protecting their citizens," according to Jeffery Lunstead. The LTTE’s current actions undermine its claims to legitimacy and they keep the aspirations of the Tamil people bottled up, Lunstead said.
 
"keeping the aspirations of the Tamil people bottled up...."
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

பொங்கு தமிழ் - Pongu Thamil in Tamil Eelam & Around the World

Excerpts from the US Ambassador's address:

"Through our USAID program, we are helping to increase the competitiveness of Sri Lankan industries, we are helping Sri Lanka rebuild after the tsunami, and we are supporting efforts to help people realize the benefits of peace."

comment by tamilnation.org:

Ambassador Lunstead  did not find it necessary to explain how US aid will reach those affected by the Tsunami in the NorthEast now that  Sri Lanka had reneged on the P-TOMS agreement - an agreement which it had solemnly signed, and which agreement had the support of the US.

"Through our military training and assistance programs, including efforts to help with counterterrorism initiatives and block illegal financial transactions, we are helping to shape the ability of the Sri Lankan Government to protect its people and defend its interests."

comment by tamilnation.org

Shaping the ability of the Sri Lankan government to protect the Tamil people may appear to many like shaping the ability of the fox to guard the chickens. Sri Lanka's record of torture, rape, extra judicial killings and mass graves, speaks for itself . So does the strident voice of  Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism. But then, it may be that ambassador Lunstead did not have the Tamil people in mind.  As for 'military training and assistance programs', some in  Ambassador Lunstead's audience may have concluded that this was yet another  instance of the application of the well worn doctrine "we supply  training and arms, you supply the lives". 

"Let me be clear, our military assistance is not given because we anticipate or hope for a return to hostilities. We want peace. We support peace. And we will stand with the people of Sri Lanka who desire peace."

comment by tamilnation.org:  

It would have been helpful if Ambassador Lunstead had proclaimed his desire for justice in equally ringing tones. After all 'peace' comes in many forms. There is for instance, the peace of the grave yard. Justice is the goal. Peace is a result. And it is not the other way round.

"The would be conqueror is always a lover of peace, for he would like to enter and occupy our country unopposed. It is in order to prevent him from doing this that we must be willing to engage in war and be prepared for it." -  Clausewitz quoted in Philosophers of Peace and War, edited by Professor Gallie

"If the LTTE chooses to abandon peace, however, we want it to be clear, they will face a stronger, more capable and more determined Sri Lankan military. We want the cost of a return to war to be high."

comment by tamilnation.org:

Ambassador Lunstead showed his care for the Tamil people by his silence on  Sri Lanka reneging on the Oslo declaration and rejecting an exploration of the federal model. And he extended  his silence to some other matters as well....

(1) The rape and murder of 19 years old Tamil girl Eliyathamby Tharshini on December 16, 2005 by Sri Lanka naval personnel at Pungudutivu.

(2) The  murder of Joseph Pararajasingham, M.P. on December 25, 2005  in Batticaloa

(3) The shooting of 5 Tamil students on  2 January 2006 at Trincomalee by the Sri Lanka Military

(4) The daily arrests, cordon and search operations, extra-judicial killings, assaults, sexual harassment and abductions of Tamils by the Sinhala security forces.

Ambassador Lunstead made no call to the Sri Lanka government to abandon its continuing racist attacks on the people of Tamil Eelam in the shadow of the ceasefire. Hopefully, he may come to recognise the wisdom in the words of  David Edwards - "...It is not virtuous, or even amoral, to remain silent while terrible crimes are perpetrated.. – sometimes to be silent is to lie."

"Now you may be asking, why is the American Ambassador using such blunt language at a gathering of the business elite? What has this got to do with our businesses or our interests?"

comment by tamilnation.org:

Actually, the audience may not have been asking these questions. It is unlikely that they were unaware that ' imperialism is an institution under which one nation asserts the right to ... control the government or resources of another people.' (John T. Flynn ) And some of them may have even  read  something which George Kennan, Director of Policy Planning of the U.S. Dept. of State said as long ago as 1948 in a State Department Briefing  about being blunt -

"...We should dispense with the aspiration to “be liked” or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism...We should cease to talk about vague and - for the Far East - unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better..."

"As I said in the beginning, it is imperative that the business community become seized with the peace process. For the peace and prosperity message to take hold, people need to understand better the prosperity element.

Mahinda Chintana raises the issue of promoting rural-growth, something that is needed if the country as a whole is going to prosper in the years ahead. You can’t allow growth to leave huge segments of the population behind.

Nonetheless, a focus on 'home grown' solutions, that ignores the lessons learned of the global community and that fails to take advantage of what we in the US call OPM – 'other people’s money' – will only lead to further stagnation and continued growth far below its potential.

Let me read some recent newspaper headlines, some which actually appeared and some which might have been.

Here is one from last week's Wall Street Journal: 'Intel explores Sri Lanka as site for chip plant.'

No that is not the real headline, the real one is: 'Intel explores Vietnam as site for chip plant.'

Here is another one from the Wall Street Journal:  'Microsoft targets India and Sri Lanka in $1.7 billion expansion.' 

Well, no, 'Sri Lanka' was not in that headline. The article continues that in addition to Microsoft's investment, Intel would invest over $1 billion in India, and that SemIndia would invest $3 billion to use AMD technology to produce microprocessor chips."

comment by tamilnation.org: 

"As the country that benefits most from global economic integration, we have the responsibility of making sure that this new system is sustainable.. The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist - McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell-Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps....The global system cannot hold together without an activist and generous American foreign and defense policy. Without America on duty, there will be no America Online... There is a saying in Silicon Valley that "loyalty is just one mouse-click away." But you can take that too far. Execs there make boasts like: "We are not an American company. We are I.B.M. U.S., I.B.M. Canada, I.B.M. Australia, I.B.M. China." Oh, yeah? Then, the next time I.B.M. China gets in trouble in China, call Jiang Zemin for help. And the next time Congress closes another military base in Asia, call Microsoft's navy to secure the sea lanes of the Pacific. And the next time Congress wants to close more consulates and embassies, call Amazon.com to order a new passport..."  Thomas Friedman, "A Manifesto for the Fast World", New York Times Magazine, March 28, 1999

"And there are many other similar stories. Now I am not suggesting that Sri Lanka could or should compete with India. What I am suggesting is that there is an enormous amount of foreign investment going on, and Sri Lanka is not getting its share."

comment by tamilnation.org:

In the case of individuals, we do not conclude that wealth brings with it, wisdom . The same is true of countries. Wisdom is not always a function of gross national product. Ambassador Lunstead and the Bush Administration that he represents may want to pay attention to the words of  Marcus Aurelius: "Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too."

Additionally,  Ambassador Lunstead and his  Sinhala audience in Colombo may want to pay heed to the words of  K.M.Pannikar, Indian Ambassador to China from 1948 to 1952, and later Vice Chancellor, Mysore University in Principles and Practice of Diplomacy1956 -

"..Foreign Ministers and diplomats presumably understand the permanent interests of their country.. But no one can foresee clearly the effects of even very simple facts as they pertain to the future. The Rajah of Cochin who in his resentment against the Zamorin permitted the Portuguese to establish a trading station in his territories could not foresee that thereby he had introduced into India something which was to alter the course of history. Nor could the German authorities, who, in their anxiety to create confusion and chaos in Russia, permitted a sealed train to take Lenin and his associates across German territory, have foreseen what forces they were unleashing. To them the necessity of the moment was an utter breakdown of Russian resistance and to send Lenin there seemed a superior act of wisdom..."

And, finally, we would like to leave Ambassador Lunstead with the words of a fellow American, Howard Zinn -

"..the struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power of those who have the guns and the money and who seem invincible in their determination to hold on to it. That apparent power has, again and again, proved vulnerable to human qualities less measurable than bombs and dollars: moral fervor, determination, unity, organization, sacrifice, wit, ingenuity, courage, patience - whether by blacks in Alabama and South Africa, peasants in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Vietnam, or workers and intellectuals in Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union itself. No cold calculation of the balance of power need deter people who are persuaded that their cause is just...".The Optimism of Uncertainty - Howard Zinn, November 2004

It is reassuring for the United States as well as for the rest of us,  that not all Americans are ugly Americans.
 

An Open Letter to Jeffrey Lunstead, US Ambassador for Sri Lanka from V.Thangavelu, Toronto, Canada, 10 January 2006


His Excellency Jeffrey Lunstead
US Ambassador for Sri Lanka
Colombo.

Your Excellency

Your outburst against the LTTE is unwarranted, uncalled for and totally biased. You seem to be oblivious by design or through inadvertence to the ground situation in the Northeast.

You have held out a threat that “if the Tigers chose to "abandon peace," they will face a "stronger, more capable and more determined" Sri Lankan military.” No doubt this will be sweet music and will certainly embolden the racist Sinhala government...

Thamil Nation is a small Nation, but a proud Nation. We are proud of our 2,500 years history, language and civilization. The language we speak is 2500 years old and our Thamil grammar treatise is 2,300 years old...

You seem to feign ignorance of the fact that President Mahinda Rajapakse came to power promising to jettison the federal model, concept of Homeland, self-determination, expel or curtail Norway’s role as the facilitator. In other words Mahinda Rajapakse showed his back to the Oslo Declaration and put the clock 50 years back to the Bandaranaike era.

You claim “"Through our military training and assistance programs, including efforts to help with counterterrorism initiatives and block illegal financial transactions, we are helping to shape the ability of the Sri Lankan Government to protect its people and defend its interests" but Your Excellency which people you are referring to? It cannot be Thamil people since more than 1,000 families have bolted from Sinhala army controlled Jaffna to LTTE controlled Vanni during the last one week.

Your Excellency either you are suffering from selected amnesia or feigning ignorance of the following killings, rape etc committed by the Sinhala occupation army since Mahinda Rajapakse came to power.

(1) The rape and murder of 19 years old Thamil girl Eliyathamby Tharshini on December 16, 2005 by Sri Lanka naval personnel at Pungudutivu which has deeply wounded the psyche of the Thamil women.

(2) The dastardly murder of Joseph Pararajasingham, M.P. on December 25, 2005 at St. Mary’s Church while attending midnight mass by Sri Lankan army intelligence and/or para-military groups.

(3) The shooting of 5 innocent Thamil students on January 02, 2006 at Trincomalee by a Special Task Force dispatched by defence advisor H.M.G.B. Kotakadeniya, a notorious racist and stalwart of the Jathika Hela Urumaya.

(4) The daily arrests, cordon and search operations, extra-judicial killings, assaults, sexual harassment and disappearances by the Sinhala army.

As I said at the beginning Thamil Nation is a small Nation but a proud Nation. If a super power wants to exterminate us so be it. But our people will not die kneeling, they shall die standing...
Yours sincerely

V.Thangavelu

 An Open Letter to the US Ambassador from Professor Aaron Rajah, San Diego, California, USA, 12 January 2006


"...I am assuming you still believe in a united Sri Lanka framework and still consider the north-east Tamils as Sri Lankan. As such, can you list your engagement of opposition in the continuous rape, murder and missing persons in north-east Sri Lanka? Your lack of condemnations on the recent Tamil student killings in Tricomalee is simply a litmus test upholding your continuous belief that Sri Lanka is a homogeneous society that only consists of a Singhalese majority..."

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

I had an opportunity to read the entire transcript of your speech on “Peace and Prosperity: US Policy Goals in Sri Lanka 2006” addressed to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka on January 9th, 2006. In your speech, you mentioned some core issues regarding the current peace process in Sri Lanka. Forgive me for cherry picking some issues, which I would like for you to clarify regarding some unanswered questions in your speech.

1. “the LTTE’s current actions call into question it’s leadership of the Tamil people. What kinds of leaders block their people from realizing their most fundamental democratic aspirations?”

I am assuming that you are commenting on the recently concluded Sri Lankan presidential election and your own view of the Tamil people in the north-east LTTE controlled area which was not allowed to participate in the election process. On the contrary, Mr. Ambassador, Tamil people have always believed in a democratic movement to relieve their pain and suffering from the Singhalese majority. In fact, if you look at the democratic process for the last sixty years, the Tamils have elected leaders to deliver their message of “self determination” to the Singhalese majority politicians, only to be ridiculed by the Sinhalese politicians and thru thuggery of state paramilitary. In the recent brutal murder of democratically elected Tamil law maker, Mr. Joseph Parajasingaham, on Christmas mass day in a Christian church, your silence in not condemning such a brutal attack on Tamil elected leaders only concreted the Tamil’s despise of the electoral process.

2. “What kind of leaders allow their people to continue to suffer from a lack of investment and industry?”

What types of industry are available in north-east Sri Lanka? Is investment possible in north-east Sri Lanka without the approval of the Sinhalese government? In addition, P-TOMS that were approved by the co-chairs of the peace committee have been blocked by the hard-line Singhalese; your reluctance to even comment about such paramount events that hallmark wealth sharing have caused the situation to be quite conveniently ignored. As the saying goes, “a family that shares together stays together. Without the P-TOMS, how do you expect poor Tamil people to have investments and industries?

3. “…….in helping the legitimate governing bodies of Sri Lanka to prepare for their roles in developing and protecting their citizens.”

I am assuming you still believe in a united Sri Lanka framework and still consider the north-east Tamils as Sri Lankan. As such, can you list your engagement of opposition in the continuous rape, murder and missing persons in north-east Sri Lanka? Your lack of condemnations on the recent Tamil student killings in Tricomalee is simply a litmus test upholding your continuous belief that Sri Lanka is a homogeneous society that only consists of a Singhalese majority.

4. “Through our USAID program, we are helping to increase the competitiveness of Sri Lankan industries, we are helping Sri Lanka rebuild after the tsunami…..”

Again, I am assuming that you are a strong subscriber of a united Sri Lanka, thus what are the USAID programs that you have initiated in north-east Sri Lanka? Please be specific on these issues.

5. “Home grown solutions, that ignore the lessons learned of the global community and that lessons learned of the global community that fails to take advantage of what we in the US…..”

In this particular part of your speech, you are referring to the “Mahida-Chinthanaya” of home grown products to enhance and empower the local people while other countries are working towards technology and export. You have made a good observation of pit falls on such economical policies; and just like the flawed economical policies, you could have noted the failed policies on the ethnic issue. While the rest of the world has evolved with globalization, pluralism, and federalism, Sri Lankan Sinhalese leaders are going backwards in terms of a unitary state which has failed to deliver peace for the last sixty years for its own people. You have sadly decided to ignore the jump on the bandwagon of federalism; this explicates to me very little encouragement towards real peace in Sri Lanka.

6. “Let me be clear, our military assistance is not given because we anticipate or hope for a return to hostilities”.

If the military assistance is not provided to encourage the Sri Lankan government to return to war, can you be specific as to why the military assistance is given during a time of peace talks? In similarity, one would compare this puzzling plight to visiting a candy store and stating “I came to see your candies, but not because I wish to buy them.” Military assistance is provided for a specific reason and one must be upfront about that reason; failure can only influence a continuous mistrust that the Tamil minority people have in American foreign policies in Sri Lanka. I look forward to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Professor Aaron Rajah, San Diego, California
The United States of America.
 

Group Response by US Ambasssador, 17 January 2006
Dear Friends

I have received many communications regarding the speech I gave at the American Chamber of Commerce last week - so many that I do not have any time to respond individually to each one. So I hope you will forgive this group response.

Let me first make several points about US policy towards Sri Lanka:

∑ The US believes there is no military solution to Sri Lanka's ethnic problem -only a political solution.

∑ Sri Lankan Tamils have legitimate grievances which must be addressed in any solution.

∑ The only practical way to address them is through some type of devolution of power.

The political process which began with the ceasefire in 2002 offered great hope to settle this issue. Unfortunately that process foundered, for a number of reasons. Some blame lies with successive governments in Colombo and with other political forces in the South; some blame also lies with the LTTE.

Some have complained about my comments regarding the LTTE. However, I do not see how the factual nature of these comments can be denied.

∑ The LTTE prevented Tamils in the North and East from voting in the November 2005 Presidential election. This was not a spontaneous decision by Tamils. Rather, it was enforced by the LTTE, a fact observed by election monitors from our own Mission and from the EU. This deprived Tamils of their political rights.

∑ The LTTE, beginning in the period before the elections, and in an enhanced mode since the election, has flagrantly violated the ceasefire. LTTE actions include: the assassination of Foreign Minister Kadirgamar, numerous claymore mine attacks, and the recent suicide attack against a Sri Lankan Navy vessel.

The Government of Sri Lanka also has obligations, of course. As the US and the other Co-Chairs have noted several times, most recently in Brussels in December, the Government must act to prevent paramilitary groups from carrying out violent acts. The Government must also ensure that its forces act properly at all times. We have made these points both publicly and privately.

In my speech I mentioned the modest US government military assistance program in Sri Lanka. As I said, the purpose of this program is not to encourage a return to war, but to make a return to peace more likely, by making it clear that a war will be more costly and unsuccessful.

One writer asked me why there were no USAID programs in the North and East. This is untrue. Since shortly after the ceasefire, USAID has been running numerous programs throughout the North and East, through USAID offices in Trincomalee and Ampara. These programs are a direct result of the peace process and are intended to show the benefits of that process. If war breaks out again, they will have to end. This is part of a larger pattern. Since the ceasefire, multilateral agencies--like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank--and bilateral donors have initiated a number of programs in the North and East. If there is progress onpeace, these programs can continue and expand. If there is a return to war, they will end.

As I said in my speech, this is a crucial time for Sri Lanka. If the LTTE continues its provocative actions, we may see a return to outright war -- in which everyone will suffer.

There is always a chance for a change for the better, however. As the US has made clear many times, if the LTTE renounces terrorism in word and deed, US policy towards the LTTE can change. The Government of Sri Lanka also must take serious steps to make peace possible.

Many people saw only the press reports of my speech, and not the entire text. If you have not read the entire text, I have attached a copy. The theme of the speech is in its title: "Peace and Prosperity." We continue to believe that these two goals are achievable in Sri Lanka, and that they will benefit all Sri Lankans. The Tamils of Sri Lanka, who have suffered the most, will benefit the most.

As I said earlier, both parties--the Government and the LTTE--share the blame for the lack of progress in the peace process and the slide towards renewed fighting, and both must take positive steps to reverse that trend.

With hopes for an end to the fighting and for a better future for all Sri Lankans, I am

Sincerely yours,
Jeff Lunstead

Response by Ilankai Thamil Sangam, USA, 20 January 2006 [also in PDF]
Ilankai Thamil Sangam, Inc.
P.O. Box 46
Maryknoll, New York 10545
Phone (201) 295.0152
P.O. Box 655
30 Chesterfield Drive, Chester, New Jersey 07930
Phone (908) 879 0576
FAX (908) 879 0487

January 20, 2006
Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead
US Embassy
210 Galle Road
Colombo 3, Sri Lanka

Dear Ambassador Lunstead:

Sri Lanka Peace Process--Your Speech on January 9 and Clarification of January 17

We are an organization of people of Sri Lankan Tamil origin living in the US. Most of us are US citizens. As you would expect, we are very concerned about recent developments in Sri Lanka, and the real risk of a resumption of war.

Your Speech of January 9

As you correctly observe, now "the peace process is paramount". So your comments on the process have been our main focus, even though we have read your entire speech carefully.

Given the highly volatile and dangerous situation, regrettably, your speech of January 9 to the American Chamber of Commerce, was very unfortunate, in style and substance. Since you have already heard from many others in response, we shall desist from debating about the "factual" basis of your continents. We recognize that reasonable people can see "facts" differently.

Our concern is about the partisan message which you clearly wanted to convey - -- first by sharply criticizing violations by the LTTE, while making absolutely no mention of the violations directly by the govermnent and indirectly by their paramilitary proxies, and of the obstacles to peace created by the extremist Sinhalese elements who now wield power in and with the Govermnent: and second, by making an explicit threat in the name of US ---"we want the cost of a return to war to be high", ---- only against the LTTE and consequently the Tamil people.

Thereby you have reinforced the deep feeling among Tamils that US policy is a threat not only to the LTTE but also to the legitimate rights of the Tamil people. At the same time, you have undoubtedly given the Government, Sinhala public, and especially its security forces, the strong impression that the US is fully behind their.

The end result is that you have caused immense damage to the peace process, and to the credibility of the US role in it. US credibility had already been severely undermined by its failure to ensure the delivery of the promised CFA related international aid for the reconstruction of the North East, and even humanitarian tsunami aid.

We are compelled to point out that your speech of January 9, is just one more example of your approach as US Ambassador in regard to the peace process, which has engendered a widespread perception among Tamils, at all levels, including elected representatives, that US policy is not only biased against them in their search for a just and enduring solution, but is insensitive even to their basic human rights and needs. In this background, your assurance of an alternative vision for the Tamils vis a vis that of the LTTE leadership, (whatever their failings), shows how much you have lost touch with the reality of Tamil feelings, and their political consciousness and aspirations.

Your insensitivity to Tamil perceptions and suffering is also clearly demonstrated by the manner in which you chose to express your " blunt" threat of US action to make a "high cost of a return to war", and to link it to a "more capable and determined Sri Lankan nulitary" as your instrument of enforcement.

To Tamils your message could not be more ominous and partisan. In contrast, to the average Sinhalese, your words could not have been more welcome. The Tamils know only too well the costs of war, and also of the extra judicial killings, disappearances, torture and rapes which the security forces inflicted on them for years with impunity.

You also seem oblivious of the basic fact, which Tamils experience daily at great cost, that the Sri Lankan military is really and truly a virtual Sinhala military.

Your clarification of January 17

In the above background, we appreciate your clarification issued on January 17. You have now acknowledged, by our reckoning perhaps for the first time, that blame for the deterioration really lies with both the Govermnent and the LTTE.

We also appreciate your reiteration of the Co- Chairs call for the Government to disarm paramilitaries, as required by the CFA. The SLMM has now formally confirmed that Karuna faction is operating with the knowledge of the Sri Lankan military, if not their active support.

The emergence of the Karuna factor and the associated killings and counter killings, has been the biggest single cause of the escalating violations of the CFA. The Co- Chairs need to play an active role in pressuring the Govermnent to take concrete and immediate steps to disarm paramilitaries. Such action by itself will unwind the violence and CFA violations.

We also welcome the clarification of your partisan and unfortunate threat of US action, referred to earlier. You now state that your intention was simply to "make it clear that a war will be more costly and unsuccessful" Unfortunately the damage to the peace process has been done, and the two sides have drawn the unavoidable conclusion that it was an explicit and partisan threat. We would now request you to do everything you can to correct this perception, within and outside Sri Lanka.

We believe that if the US had followed the more balanced approach now reflected in your clarification, the course of events in the peace process would have been different and positive. More importantly, we hope that this more even handed approach will continue in the future, and that the US will also publicly express concern about the threat to the peace process posed by human rights violations by security forces and by extreme Sinhala nationalist formations, and their rejection of most of the principal elements of the peace process advanced by the international connnunity.

It is vital, at this juncture, for the US and other members of the international community to repeatedly re affirm their support for the Cease Fire Agreement and for its full implementation. Without the implementation of the CFA, the entire peace process will disintegrate.

Human Rights Violations. By Security forces and Paramilitaries

As a final comment, we would urge you to show more public sensitivity to the serious human rights violations faced by Tamil civilians in the North East, as well as in Colombo. We welcome your assurance that you have asked the govenunent, both privately and publicly, to ensure that its forces act properly at all times.

Many see in your speech another indication of an apparent disregard for Tamil lives and suffering. There is no mention what so ever of concern or regret about the murder of Mr. Pararajasingham, and of recurrence of past patterns of systematic human rights violations by the military, even if they be of a retaliatory nature. As US Ambassador you would doubtless be aware of what is going on in the North East by way of assaults, rapes, murders and disappearances, under cover of Emergency Rule.

 The Human Rights Commission has reported on these. Even the Press has had detailed reporting about some of the worst offences.

Frankly we are not aware of any public expression of US concerns, certainly about the murder of Mr. Pararajasingham or on other high profile and well reported incidents like the assault on Jaffna university students and faculty, the execution like killings of the students in Trincomalee, or Dec 31 night's abusive cordon and search of hundreds of Tamil homes in Colombo etc.

Your stubborn silence on Mr. Pararajasingham's murder, in particular is incomprehensible, and feeds into the worst fears about US policy and intentions.

Strong public expressions of concern about them would be a simple act of humanity for the victims. The ideals that the US stands for, as repeatedly affirmed by President Bush, also demand that you speak out publicly and forcefully.

Sri Haran CPA/PFS, CFP President
Ilankai Thamil Sangam, Inc
CC: US Secretary of State

Chairman International Relations Committee, US House of Representatives Chairman Foreign Relations Committee, US Senate
 
US Tamils question timing of Ambassador Lunstead's speech, 22 January 2006
Memorandum to Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza Rice and to Mr Nicholas Burns, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

"Whatever his intention or the limits of his authority, Mr. Lunstead has helped harden the respective positions of the LTTE and of the strong Sinhala chauvinist elements in the Government, and especially the military (which is virtually all Sinhala). He has seriously complicated the difficult and delicate task of Mr. Solheim in getting the two sides to resume political contact, and also raised serious questions about the US role in the peace process.The clarification of his speech, which he issued on January 17, does little by way of repairing the damage. He was disingenuous in explaining his clear threat to the LTTE as just a statement of the obvious – that “ war will be more costly and unsuccessful”."


We have been very concerned about the speech delivered by Ambassador Lunstead to the American Chamber of Commerce in Colombo on January 9, which was not only heavily partisan in favor of the Government, but also contained an overt US threat directed at only the LTTE if war were to resume.

He singled out the LTTE for the warning “we want the cost of a return to war to be high”. He said “We want it to be clear they (the LTTE) will face a more capable and more determined Sri Lankan military”.

Regrettably, these remarks, which are seen by Tamil people as directed equally against them, are typical of Mr. Lunstead, who has long shown utter and even dismissive insensitivity to even existential Tamil concerns. Nothing symbolizes his disdain more than his refusal to express sympathy about, let alone condemn the murder of senior Tamil Parliamentarian Pararajasingham, committed by the Sri Lankan security forces (as admitted by President Rajapakse to the Tamil Parliamentarians on 18 January 2006, reported in Sunday Leader of 22 January 2006) or about Tamil civilian victims of continuing serious human rights violations by the military.

In the Tamil view, Mr.Lunstead has consistently followed a course which has set back the peace process, and thereby has also not served US interests well.

The partisan content of his speech, its deliberately provocative message to the LTTE, as well as its timing, raise many serious questions about US role in the peace process.

One central question is why did Mr. Lunstead engage in such a reckless exercise at a time of great risk to the peace process, and just a few days before Mr. Erik Solheim’s visit, which everyone was looking to as the only way of defusing an extremely dangerous situation. As Mr. Lunstead himself admitted in his speech, an address to the business elite was not a natural venue for such “ blunt language”

It is also a mystery why he made this speech only a few days before the arrival of Under Secretary Burns to make a first hand assessment of the situation.

Whatever his intention or the limits of his authority, Mr. Lunstead has helped harden the respective positions of the LTTE and of the strong Sinhala chauvinist elements in the Government, and especially the military (which is virtually all Sinhala). He has seriously complicated the difficult and delicate task of Mr. Solheim in getting the two sides to resume political contact, and also raised serious questions about the US role in the peace process.

The clarification of his speech, which he issued on January 17, does little by way of repairing the damage. He was disingenuous in explaining his clear threat to the LTTE as just a statement of the obvious – that “ war will be more costly and unsuccessful”.

We are confident that Mr. Lunstead has not correctly represented US policy on the peace process. We sincerely hope that Mr. Burns, who fortunately will be in Sri Lanka during Mr. Solheim’s visit, will clarify to everyone what US policy is at this critical time, and help revive the peace track.

Association of Tamil Americans
Center for Women’s Development and Rehabilitation –
USA Tamil Heritage International – USA
Federation of Tamil Association of North America (FeTNA)– USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam – California, USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam – Florida, USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam – USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam - Vancouver-Portland – Washington
Midwest Tamil Sangam - Illinois
Ohio Tamil Association - Ohio
Tamil Refugees Rehabilitation Organization - California
World Tamil Organization - Illinois
World Tamil Women Organization – USA

 

 
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