Colombo Telegraph

Sri Lanka Struggles With Post-LTTE Peace

By UPI

The claim was made after Tamils for Obama met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake prior to the United States tabling a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council session last week in Geneva, which government officials say is anti-Sri Lanka.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, March 30 (UPI) — The Sri Lankan government says Western powers are precluding a final post-LTTE settlement.

Founded in May 1976 The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a separatist militant organization, began a violent campaign in 1983 for a Tamil independent state in northeastern Sri Lanka. The fighting lasted until May 2009 when the LTTE was defeated by the Sri Lankan military.

The Sri Lankan government maintains that a definitive post-conflict settlement is being stymied by Western support for the Tamil diaspora.

The Sri Lankan government says the Sri Lankan Tamil expatriate community has become the main obstacle to a negotiated settlement. The Tamil National Alliance has been influenced by various politically active groups, which supported LTTE fundraising campaigns in foreign countries, including the United States Britain, Canada and India, the government claims.

As proof of their political support, the government notes that in 2008 a “Tamils for Obama” group backed U.S. President Barack Obama‘s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, The Island newspaper reported Friday.

Tamils for Obama recently stated that 70,000 Tamils had been killed in the government’s military campaign against the LTTE and is pressing Western governments to investigate alleged human rights abuses that occurred during the military operations.

The claim was made after Tamils for Obama met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake prior to the United States tabling a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council session last week in Geneva, which government officials say is anti-Sri Lanka.

Besides attempting to use foreign governments to criticize the Sri Lankan government in international settings, officials are concerned that Tamils for Obama and similar groups in the United States will try to take advantage of the forthcoming U.S. presidential campaign to advance their separatist agenda, which would further complicate efforts to achieve a definitive post-conflict settlement.

Having failed to achieve an independent Tamil Sri Lankan state through armed struggle, the TNA shifted gears and is seeking international support for a political settlement in Sri Lanka similar to the secession of South Sudan from Sudan last year, a move vigorously opposed by the Sri Lankan government.

Tamils for Obama stated that it had given Blake a petition, which since June 2011 had garnered more than 31,000 Tamil and non-Tamil signatures, along with sending a copy to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging that a referendum be held in Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern provinces.

The Sri Lankan government says such initiatives constitute foreign interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs but remains concerned about the possible ensuing pressure from Western governments over the issue.

 

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