|We Tamil Americans supported Senator Obama and were pleased when he became the 44th president of the U.S. We hoped that when he became president, he would be supportive of our concerns, especially of the continuing suffering of our friends and families in Sri Lanka. We were dismayed by the continuing genocide of Tamils there (we still are). We were confident that he was as concerned as we were about the destruction of the Tamil people and culture in Sri Lanka. We still believe that he will formulate a forceful policy that will relieve the suffering of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is a very senior member of the Senate (first elected in 1974) and is a long-time supporter of Senator Obama. Senator Leahy, while formerly supportive of the Sri Lankan national government in Colombo, says "We have been increasingly concerned with reports of abuses by Sri Lankan government forces." He emphasizes that these reports are not "misinformation" or "disinformation," but "documented, consistent information indicating a steady increase in serious human rights violations by the Sri Lankan government forces." Mr. Obama, who has spoken of the "vicious civil war in Sri Lanka," will certainly be influenced by Senator Leahy's opinions, which we think are shared by most of the Democratic Party.
Senator Leahy recently stated "The origins of the conflict arise from decades of the Sinhalese majority's systematic discrimination against the Tamil minority …. Successive Sinhalese-dominated governments have failed to effectively address these longstanding injustices…which has in turn fostered violent extremism on the Tamil side." It shows that Senator Leahy is alert and open minded, and is capable of changing his views when there is new information.
Senator Leahy introduced a resolution to end US military assistance to the Colombo government. The staff director for the Senate Foreign Aid Subcommittee chaired by Leahy, Tim Rieser, said that "Sri Lanka has been utterly unwilling to take responsibility for its actions." The resolution passed, and became law when President Bush signed it. Senator Leahy has refused to meet with the Sri Lankan foreign minister, and we surmise that his low regard for the Sri Lankan government is clear.
Rush Holt, a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, led a group of 38 legislators who wrote to President Bush and Secretary of State Rice urging them to appoint or delegate "a high-level official with access to Bush and the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and a 'clear' mandate to increase monitoring of human rights violations.
" Rush Holt is a long-time Obama supporter, and we are confident that his concerns about Sri Lanka will be communicated to the 44th president, Mr. Obama.
European diplomats have also spoken about the impossibility of getting Colombo's help in reaching a peaceful solution.
Tamils are weary of waiting for a reasonable devolution from Sri Lanka. German Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jürgen Weerth in August 2008 said that he has also
up the hope of finding any solution for Tamils that involved the Colombo government. Germany, he said, did not believe in allowing the majority community to rule over minorities. "A country should have a give-and-take policy when ruling. Each community should be given preference, instead of supporting one community," he said.
Weerth further said that Sri Lanka should establish the rule of law and eliminate human rights violations in the country. He says Sri Lanka has an admirable constitution, but the Colombo government does not follow its laws.
An outgoing British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Dominic Chilcott, gave a speech on the Sri Lankan national question, in which he referred to other matters like "the lack of good governance, transparency, law and order, and the presence of institutional racism, racist stereotyping, demonizing of the UN agencies, discrimination, sense of impunity," etc. He also drove home the blatant truth about the deplorable condition of the veritable jungle of corruption, nepotism, dire human rights violations, conflicts of interest, and hypocrisy that Sri Lanka is..
We supported Senator Obama in his pursuit of the presidency because we agreed with him that the Sri Lankan civil war should be resolved. We are confident that President Obama will use the influence of the US to achieve a political settlement that will end the civil war and allow all Sri Lankans to live in peace.
We urge the 44th president of the Unite States, Mr. Obama, to take a strong hand in resolving this civil war. Perhaps he could bring the Tamils and Singhalese to Canton, Ohio, like President Bill Clinton did with the former Yugoslavians, and force a solution to the Sri Lankan war. The Colombo government has not taken any action to resolve this vicious civil war except accelerating efforts to win the war for the last six decades, and we believe they will take no action unless they are forced to do so.
The solution to the Sri Lankan problem could be based on the Bosnian model or on one of the many others like Montenegro, East Timor, Quebec, Slovakia, or Kosovo. We might be able to utilize special envoy Richard Holbrooke's expertise to bring peace to Sri Lanka..
There are many more potential peace envoys or mediators we can find in the U.S., including Bill Clinton, George Mitchell, James Baker, Jim Leach, Colin Powell, and doubtless many others.
There are many problems in the world that will demand President Obama's attention. We Tamils are pleased that he is now turning his hand to solving them. We trust that Sri Lanka's civil war will be among them. We offer him our wholehearted support and look forward to seeing his foreign policy develop.
We emphasize that peace in Sri Lanka would give both ethnic groups (Singhalese and Tamils) a better chance to improve their lives in a stable environment.
We feel that this is one important change that we can believe in.
Tamils for Obama.