Letter from 6 ex-Ambassadors of the US to President
Mahinda Rajapaksa

Six ex-Ambassadors of the US to Sri Lanka have written a nicely crafted letter to President Rajapakse a few days ago (TamilNet got the scoop on it), expressing their serious concerns regarding the recent developments in Sri Lanka. 

 All Sri Lankans would be appreciative of the Ambassadors’ sentiments regarding the island’s democratic accomplishments. Many would also be heartened to read their clearly articulated statement rejecting the "goals and tactics" adopted by the LTTE as being unacceptable. The Ambassadors’ concerns regarding Sri Lanka’s democracy being challenged at this critical stage through what they see as "radical forces that may attempt to destroy Sri Lanka from within" would also be taken as well meant, and will generate appreciation and respect..  

Their collective response was clearly spurred by recent assaults on media personnel, and especially the brutal killing of Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha Wickramatunge.  Every right-thinking person has rejected these assaults and killings as unacceptable.  However, I am troubled by the Ambassadors’ outright rejection of the suggestion by some, that elements who wish to embarrass the government may be responsible. 

They state:  "Some have suggested that these events have been carried out not by elements of the government, but by other forces hoping to embarrass the government", and go on to categorically dismiss this suggestion with, " We do not find such arguments credible."  There is serious counter-suggestion in this statement.

The Ambassadors have thus taken a definite position that the murders/assaults of media personnel were NOT carried out by anti-Govt. elements, How can they be so sure? Especially, when they must surely know that at least one such anti-government group, the LTTE, have contrived many times to politically embarrass and even destroy the Govt. through creating backlash. One could argue that at a time when the Govt. is poised to defeat the LTTE, such a deflection might serve the LTTE well.  That other such ‘forces’ exist with similar focus is also common knowledge. 

The Ambassadors have by corollary suggested that the deed was carried out by Government elements.  It follows then that they must have some evidence.  Unless they have such evidence, I am afraid their arguments become just as untenable as those they reject.

Dr. Mahes Ladduwahetty

via e-mail

The letter:

The six ambassadors who wrote this letter are Marion Creekmore (1989-92), Teresita Schaffer (1992-95), A. Peter Burleigh (1995-97), Shaun Donnelly (1997-2000), Ashley Wills (2000-03) and Jeffrey Lunstead (2003-06).

Full text of the letter follows:

"We are all former United States Ambassadors to Sri Lanka, but we are writing in our personal capacities. Our service in Sri Lanka stretches for over 15 years, and we have seen good times and hard times in the country. We all have great respect and affection for Sri Lanka and its people. We have known you at different points in your career, and we all acknowledge your love for your country and your desire to see it at peace.

We have all, at different times and in different ways, made it clear that we believed the goals and tactics of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were unacceptable, and that the Government of Sri Lanka was engaged in a difficult but necessary fight against terrorism. We have all supported and argued for United States assistance to Sri Lanka in that struggle.

It is for all of these reasons that we are now so upset by developments in Sri Lanka, the most recent of which was the murder of The Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge. We fear that, even as Sri Lanka is enjoying military progress against the LTTE, the foundations of democracy in the country are under assault.

The killing of Wickrematunge has prompted this letter, but there have been many previous incidents in which the rights of individuals and the media have been violated.

Mr. President, we speak frankly because in our dealings with you we have always found you to have an open mind and to respect the truth. Some have suggested that these events have been carried out not by elements of the government, but by other forces hoping to embarrass the government.

We do not find such arguments credible. We are familiar with your history as a defender of those whose rights were threatened by the government. We assume, therefore, that if government forces are carrying out these acts, they are acting without your permission and knowledge. We believe it is imperative that these actions stop, and that those who have carried them out be prosecuted.

Fighting an unconventional war against a terrorist enemy is a difficult task, and the sad truth is that it almost always results in some brutal and illegal acts. This is as true of our country as it is of Sri Lanka. The important thing is that the countryleadership not condone these acts, and that an atmosphere is set from the top that they will not be accepted, and that those who commit them will be held to account.

We urge you to take steps to reestablish accountability and the rule of law in Sri Lanka. Investigations have been promised before but have been futile. At times government officials have not appeared diligent, as happened in the investigation of the killing of NGO workers assisted by the International Eminent Persons Group.

It is crucial that an investigation now not follow that same fruitless path. It must also be made clear to members of the security forces that discipline will be enforced and violators will be brought to justice. Only you can provide the leadership and clear direction that will make this happen. We have seen before the positive results that such leadership can have, for example, when the decision to issue receipts for all detained persons dramatically reduced the number of disappearances.

Sri Lanka has gone through difficult times, but its democratic system has always persevered. Neither the LTTE nor assaults by other radical forces have been able to destroy it. It would be a tragedy if it were destroyed now, not from without, but from within.

We intend to make this letter public after you have received it."

(from Tamilnet.com)

www island.lk

Copyright©Upali Newspapers Limited.

Hosted by


Upali Newspapers Limited, 223, Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13, Sri Lanka, Tel +940112497500