8 August, 2022

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GTF Calls For Deep Reflection Of The Messages Conveyed By The US & Urges For Meaningful Course Correction In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is in the midst of many crises. The trajectory it is heading – increasing authoritarianism and militarised governance; further marginalisation of Tamil, Muslim, Hindu, and Christian communities; and the debilitating financial crisis and the economic challenges engulfing the people – has the potential to seed new conflicts in the country. Sri Lanka’s credibility as a trusted member of the international community has taken a beating in the recent years and the emerging geopolitical reality, where human rights is increasingly a cornerstone of the foreign policy of many western countries, will only exasperate the situation.

US President Joe Biden hosted a virtual summit on December 9-10, 2021 for leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector. The summit focussed on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and provided a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad.

The current Sri Lankan regime, which is increasingly being viewed as having more characteristics of an autocracy than democracy, was not in the list of 110 states that were invited to attend.

Marking the Human Rights Day on December 10, 2021, the US government has imposed human rights-related sanctions on two Sri Lankan military officials: Chandana Hettiarachchi, a Sri Lankan naval intelligence officer, for his involvement in the Trincomalee 11 abduction and murder case (2008 to 2009), and Sunil Ratnayake, a former Staff Sergeant in the Sri Lanka Army, for his involvement in the extrajudicial killings of at least eight Tamil villagers (2000). The former was spared from prosecution and the later was pardoned after conviction – actions that were not consistent with international standards and expectations.

The US sanctioning these two officers appears more for the message it conveys to the Sri Lankan leadership, than for its direct impact on the individual officers.

The Human Rights Day statement from the US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, articulated Biden administration’s intent to put human rights at the centre of the US foreign policy and their preparedness to use appropriate tools and authorities to draw attention to and promote accountability for human rights abusers and violators the world over. The statement also referred to the cooperation between many countries (including US, EU, UK, and Canada) with the same intent. Clearly, the world is entering a new era where the regimes dependent on authoritarianism, militarisation, human rights abuses, and state sanctioned violence can be expected to be checkmated on many fronts.

Undoubtedly, Sri Lanka is on the international radar. This is evident on the letter from the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs to the Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken (December 3, 2021), urging the State Department to “refocus its efforts in Sri Lanka to emphasis on the importance of a substantive and durable political solution.” As per the letter written by Committee Chairman Meeks and Ranking Member McCaul, “The US has rightly championed justice and human rights in Sri Lanka. Advancing these values will require solutions to political questions that remain unanswered years after the end of the civil war, including the meaningful devolution of power in an undivided Sri Lanka.”

The letter, whilst emphasizing that it is the Sri Lankan people who should lead the debate on the matter, perhaps supported and facilitated by the US, the outcome must meet the “needs of all citizens in Sri Lanka, including the Tamil and Muslim people.”

The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) through its recent engagements with several countries found the same sentiments and the willingness to play a constructive role in resolving many issues afflicting Sri Lanka. Their interests and commitments cover all aspects – promoting human rights and accountability, playing a supportive role in resolving the decades long political conflict, and embarking on impactful initiatives to help the people overcome their crippling economic challenges – whilst appreciating the strong interconnections among all.

Presently, this appears to be the only silver lining in the dark clouds hovering over Sri Lanka.

It is noteworthy that a joint delegation from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Global Tamil Forum recently (w/c 15 November 2021) met with senior US government officials – In Washington, the Delegation met with Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Donald Lu; Deputy Assistant Secretary, Ambassador Kelly Keiderling; Acting Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Lisa J. Peterson; Ambassador Michael Kozak of the Office of Global Criminal Justice; and Director for South Asia Security Affairs and Director for Democracy and Human Rights of the National Security Council at the White House. The delegation also met with senior staff members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; the Assistant Administrator of the USAID; Legislators from the United States Congress; and former US Ambassadors to Sri Lanka and Assistant Secretaries for the region. In New York, the Delegation met with the US Deputy Permanent Representative for the UN General Assembly.

GTF calls on the Sri Lankan people, the civil society organisations and their political leadership to deeply reflect on the messages directly or indirectly conveyed by many countries, particularly the US, and to appreciate the need for meaningful course correction with the long-term interest of all the peoples at the core. We have no doubt that a large segment of the diasporic communities, including the GTF, will play their part in any genuine and meaningful effort to address the multiples of challenges Sri Lanka’s diverse communities are confronting. (By SS)

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Latest comments

  • 6
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    US virtual summit for government leaders of 110 countries excluded sinhala buddhist Sri Lanka having dismal record of discrimination of minorities. Should a government look after only part of its residents and bomb the rest like the easter bombing. Have all the leaders left the country for another chaotic situation to occur during christmas, the birth of Jesus. If Gautama Buddha cannot save his nation, at least ask Jesus to manifest his salvation here as part of his plan to save all the nations and the world who turn to him. GTF is willing to invest the much needed finances here at the moment, which will help these stubborn SB brains, who are full of insecurity.

    • 6
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      “GTF is willing to invest the much needed finances” – Are you joking. GTF is financially and politically bankrupt, and are clinging onto Sumanthiran to stay afloat. I said that after Sumanthiran’s visit to US, rosy pictures will be posted to hoodwink Tamils, and this is the beginning. US does not invite you paying the cost of visit, for your benefit. In February 1983, Premadasa and Cyril Mathew were invited separately to US for discussions. At that time US friendly government was in power and open economy in full swing. Therefore the visit cannot be to plan to topple the government. But at that time Tamil armed groups had wide spread support of Tamils in Sri Lanka and were being armed and trained by India to attack Sri Lanka. Therefore US wanted to break the back bone of Tamils, and I am certain that plan for 1983 riots was initiated there. Similarly US must have had intelligence reports that Tamils in Sri Lanka have approached China, and Sumanthiran has been tasked to get Tamils out of this. Sumanthiran will make propaganda that US is going to give federal solution and for Tamils to support US sponsored candidate at next presidential election. It is unfortunate that the same story of Tamil politicians for their own agenda taking Tamils for a ride continues.

      • 5
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        Dr.GS,

        What is your source for claiming that Premadasa and Cyril Mathew were in the U.S.?

        At that time, given Reagan’s rightward tilt, the administration might have worried about some of the Marxist Tamil groups, but in February 1983, Tamil militancy had negligible impact. It was after July 1983 the militancy grew, and I don’t think the US would have been involved that early.

        It is news to me that some Tamils have approached China. What leverage do they have with China? The U.S. deals with political issues around the world on a daily basis, so even if what you say is true about a handful of Tamils reaching out to China, it would hardly get any attention in Washington. I think the TNA/GTF meeting with the State Dept. is simply a White House policy shift to re-engage in global HR issues after Trump had maintained an isolationist posture.

        • 1
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          I have very good memory about the trips made by Premadasa and Cyril Mathew to US in February 1983. In 1982 when Indira Gandhi came to power, RAW infiltrated Tamil groups. Some Tamil groups other than LTTE, specially TELO were trained by RAW both in Tamil Nadu and north India. US would have been informed by their agents in India about it. From that time isolated attacks on Security forces had started, and the incidence was increasing. It was becoming a threat to the government, which had secured a second term after one sided presidential election in October 1982 and referendum to extend parliament in February 1983. It is at this time that US would have wanted to help the government. Are you aware that the first trial land mine attack on security forces by LTTE took place more than six months of the Kantharmadam one in July 1983, when a water bowser from Karainagar Navy camp was blown off. Get your facts correctly before commenting.

          • 1
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            Regarding China, think in an analytical manner. Chinese ambassador would not have made the bold trip to Jaffna, if he was not sure about the reception. There is rumour that Devananda and Manivannan are involved in the visit. Tamils have no leverage with China, but some individuals are going to fill their pockets. It may be a handful at the beginning, but it may grow with time, and US is concerned about it, and is taking preemptive action. You are very naive to say that US wanted to discuss HR issues with TNA/GTF. US is well aware about the HR violations in Sri Lanka, and what is there to discuss with these fellows. When Sumanthiran was going to US, he made a propaganda that he and other lawyers are going to discus federal solution for ethnic problem. If your statement of HR issues is correct, then Sumanthiran had told a lie to Tamils in Sri Lanka. No benefit will come to Tamils by this trip of Sumanthiran and his cronies, but only some of them are going to fill their pockets.

    • 5
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      ‘If Gautama Buddha cannot save his nation…’
      .
      Your utter ignorance is astounding. Why bother explaining, pearls before swine.

      • 2
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        Dear Svenson,
        .
        Thanks for telling that to davidthegood. I accept him as a decent man, but suprstious about the way his religion, “Christianity” can save the world.
        .
        I was born and brought up an Anglican; there now are fewer than 20K Anglicans around; very many fewer, fear. I know traditional Anglicanism very well. There was room for dissent on doctrinal matters. Now, I fear, that the Anglican Church is dominated by schemers who well know that they are manipulating the like of “davidthegood”, who are indeed good, but naive.
        .
        I know the outlines of Buddhism. Gauthama was essentially a man who outlined for others the way to inner happiness, peace, and harmony. I know much less about the details of Buddhism than of Christianity. Buddhism sticks to what one can apprehend with the mind, which, in turn is dependent upon the five senses that we have.
        .
        I have been told by truly erudite Buddhists that theories of rebirth abounded within the Hinduism that Gauthama was born into, and later fed into Buddhism.
        .
        I may be wasting my time as you say.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V).

      • 1
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        Continuing,
        .
        As knowledge of what is empirical grows, with artificial intelligence, many people have begun to cling to superstitions propagated by traditional “religions”.
        .
        And those manipulators are unaware of the extent to which they get manipulated by the digital media. Who are the richest people in the world? How did they get so rich?
        .
        It’s unfortunate that Global Tamil Forum is obsessed only with problems faced by minorities. Ask Gnana Sankaralingam what my comments have been like for many years now.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe

        • 2
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          Sinhala_Man, you are a good and noble human being. I wish the world was filled with the likes of you.

        • 2
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          Dear SM,

          supporting your thoughts, I thought of adding the following outcome of my google search for ” How many deaths have been caused by religion?” Here’s a list of religiously motivated wars and genocides and their death tolls. Let me know if I missed any!

          The Crusades: 6,000,000

          Thirty Years War: 11,500,000

          French Wars of Religion: 4,000,000

          Second Sudanese Civil War: 2,000,000

          Lebanese Civil War: 250,000

          Muslim Conquests of India: 80,000,000

          Congolese Genocide (King Leopold II): 13,000,000

          Armenian Genocide: 1,500,000

          Rwandan Genocide: 800,000

          Eighty Years’ War: 1,000,000

          Nigerian Civil War: 1,000,000

          Great Peasants’ Revolt: 250,000

          First Sudanese Civil War: 1,000,000

          Jewish Diaspora (Not Including the Holocaust): 1,000,000

          The Holocaust (Jewish and Homosexual Deaths): 6,500,000

          Islamic Terrorism Since 2000: 150,000

          Iraq War: 500,000

          US Western Expansion (Justified by “Manifest Destiny”):20,000,000

          Atlantic Slave Trade (Justified by Christianity): 14,000,000

          Aztec Human Sacrifice: 80,000

          AIDS deaths in Africa largely due to opposition to condoms: 30,000,000

          Spanish Inquisition: 5,000

          TOTAL: 195,035,000 deaths in the name of religion.

          And one can compare also with COVID deaths.
          .
          Coronavirus Cases:
          274,542,057
          view by country
          Deaths:
          5,366,779
          Recovered:
          246,344,528

    • 1
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      Not the first time and won’t be the last.

      Only solution is to split the island into 3 mono ethnic nations and relocate people into their own.

      Until then Sinhala Buddhists will rule others.

      • 1
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        With the brutal murder of Priyantha Kumara for challenging Islam, any chance of autonomy for Muslims is buried forever. Do you think that Sinhalese are mad to see one of their people suffering the same fate committed by Islamic racists in Katankudy.

  • 2
    2

    There is a saying in Sinhala that goes as “Kateyngma Beragannawa.” That means extricating oneself from a difficult situation by dint of one’s own verbal skills and persuasive powers despite being guilty. Indeed, stout denials, repeated lies and insincere promises have proved to be very effective ways to keep Sri Lanka from falling into the soup in the past. The catch is that whereas these methods may work well in the internal politics of a country full of “Modayas,” a state cannot keep resorting to these techniques beyond a period of say 10, 20 or 30 years in the arena or international politics. Our true colours are now known to everybody. The day of reckoning is very close and the SL Government had better pull up its socks, be realistic, and above all sincere in its dealings with foreign powers and institutions if it wants to save the country.

  • 5
    4

    “GTF calls on the Sri Lankan people, the civil society organisations and their political leadership to deeply reflect on the messages directly or indirectly conveyed by many countries, particularly the US, and to appreciate the need for meaningful course correction with the long-term interest of all the peoples at the core.”

    Global Tamil Forum was founded by K Pathmanathan, former LTTE International leader who was instrumental in buying and supplying arms and ammunition during the war between LTTE and Sri Lanka Sinhala Military. He was arrested after the end of war in Malaysia and brought back to Sri Lanka but there was no investigation, no judiciary involvement and none of the Sinhalese leadership or civil societies or Buddhist Monks or People of this country or even thought he was wanted by India for assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Recently, Dr.Shafi who was arrested accusing for conducting illegal sterilzation, Rishard Baduideen for accusing Easter Bombing and Azath Sally, accusing for Easter Bombing were released. A read a new item today that a Tamil political prisoner who was arrested under PTA 15 years ago was released yesterday.
    What does that mean? Most of these allegations are fake and used for propaganda to cheat Sinhalese people.

    • 2
      5

      Is the suggestion that GTF is guided by its founder KP?

      • 4
        0

        SJ,
        You must be knowing the answer.
        Can you explain the reason for no investigation of KP by those who arrested and brought to Sri Lanka?

  • 1
    0

    The only way this country could be saved is to appoint a coalition government with a qualified, independent-minded cabinet of ministers to govern the country. Amendment to the laws should be brought in to include all higher court judgments to be peer-reviewed by a committee of retired judges, this also should include all decisions made by the AG. All independent commissions that were in the 19th amendment should be brought back. Any MP crossing party lines should be removed from the Parliament and a by-election held within 3 months in that electorate. IGP and the Ministers in charge of Prisons and Police should be held responsible for any killings of those in Police custody and Prisons. All MPs must be forced to give annual asset declaration and if they do not give they must be removed from the Parliament within 3 months.

    • 0
      0

      Only way this country could be saved it thorugh a constitution which Mr Nagananda Kodithuwakku has already introduced. It should be passed with an elelction directly so that the elected men would have no space to manipulate their low level election pledges.
      .
      And in the same time, through an all party conference, they should honestly work on the reubild of the society.
      .
      Without REBUILD the society, to the levels PEOPLE could be able to differentiate good from the bad, truths from the untruths, truths from the lies, nothing would help further. Sadhu Sadhu EFFECT should be kicked off, and it is high time, people be empowered by FEEDING them with the facts, but facts….. this can only be achievable once MEDIA become the serious. TV media is the only source for the people to collect their info updates today, across the country. Not smart phones and internet literacy is high in the country yet today. Not even 35% of people are accessed to INTERNET yet today in srilanka. So the news go viral via SOCIAL media would not outreach villagers in far remoted areas. The population of this country is not urben but rual. Over 70% of the voter eligibles live in rural corners.

      • 0
        0

        However, statistics prove that highly literate WESTERN PROVINCE too is dominated by STUPID people. Just imagine, people knew well enough that Sarath Weerasekara or Wimal Weerawanse were just pimps, but people voted for them and made number one in that province. Sarath Weerasekara s records are public secret to have COMMITTED high crimes in public. Those church attacks and mosque attacks were made by contracting BBS and SINHALA radical groups in order to build up a fake public PERCEPTION. We may attack SIRISENA, but he had balls to call a spade a spade regarding SARATH WEERASEKARA s mlechcha criminal energies each time before annual UNHRC sessions. With that BAGGAGE boy JAYASUMANA ( kaliamma controlled men) created ” pre calculated evidence ” through – mlechcha RIOTS incited on KANDY muslims – in order to show the International community, that equal rights cant be given to minorities as IC expect because the majoritarian resistenace to that is hugely high. Latter is a big lie, without making GENUINE efforts.
        :
        If GOOD hamuduruwos would be QUESTIONED, 100% is clear that they would support SRILANKENESS but not leaving space to MURDEROUS; HIGH CRIMINALS hidden behind the SIVURU.

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