US Congressional caucus to draw attention to Tamil plight

[TamilNet, Saturday, 14 December 2013, 23:48 GMT]
The Congressional Caucus on Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka, initiated by Congressmen Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Danny Davis (D-IL) aims to bring the attention of the American public to the Tamils in Sri Lanka and their plight, Washington Times reported in its Thursday edition. In a joint press release, Congressmen Johnson and Davis said, “Given the magnitude of horrors Sri Lankans bore witness to, and how the most egregious alleged violators of international law remain unpunished, accountability for the guilty is essential for helping those who have suffered to heal, and the country’s diverse population reconcile.”

The paper noted that in 2011, the US and UN officials refused to meet delegates from northern Sri Lanka, and said that the turnaround is a welcome surprise, and hoped that the change in stand is a humanitarian rather than a business.

Congressman Danny Davis, Democrat from Illinois
Congressman Danny Davis, Democrat from Illinois
Congressman Bill Johnson, Republican from OHIO
Congressman Bill Johnson, Republican from OHIO
While also noting that Tamils desire for their own homeland, as evidenced by the election results in September where the Tamil National Alliance won 30 out of 38 seats in the North of Sri Lanka, has not diminshed, the paper said that if in 1948, Sri Lanka adopted the principles of equality before the law, there probably would have been no ethnic tensions to this degree in Sri Lanka. "What would the Tamil have to complain about if equality before the law was guaranteed by the constitution?' the paper asked.

Since 1948, the Sri Lankan government had implemented a strategy of disenfranchising Tamils, the article said, adding, this strategy included restricing Tamil access to higher education, business licenses, and settling non Tamils on Tamil land. Although the Tamils cried foul, the world ignored them. Until now, the paper observed.

Today a third of Tamils reside outside Sri Lanka, mostly in Western Europe and North America, but there are many residing in Africa and Asia

On the oligarchy evolving in Sri Lanka, which UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, Navi Pillay, recognized as moving towards authoritarianism, the paper observed that "[t]he Presidents family controls the economy and government of Sri Lanka. President Rajapaksa belongs to a family that controls huge chunks of the Sri Lankan economy, with obvious signs of government favoritism over the years, lucrative contracts and licenses, a clear sign of inequality in the laws.

"Such principles should be wiped out of the minds of Tamils, all Tamils must be treated equally by the law, the Washington Times concluded.

External Links:
WT: Tamil Tragedy: A Case for equality before the law


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