Open letter to Hillary Clinton
During the recent Congressional hearings you stated: "I think that the Sri Lankan government knows that the entire world is very disappointed that in its efforts to end what it sees as 25 years of conflict, it is causing such untold suffering".
The habit of speaking for the whole world is a carry-over from the past and is at variance with the posture taken by President Obama; a position enunciated during his recent visit to Europe where he stated that while the US remains the sole super power it was not going to lecture others. Despite this changed perspective, to continue to speak for the whole world is a matter of deep concern, particularly after China which represents nearly 1/6 of the world endorsed the manner in which Sri Lanka was handling the threats and challenges posed by the LTTE.
You are aware that the Sri Lankan Government designated a safe zone for the protection of the civilians. You are also aware that the LTTE retreated to the safe zone and were using the civilians as a human shield. Despite the calls to the LTTE by the Sri Lankan Government, the UN and several members of the International Community to release these civilians and the "humanitarian pauses" provided, you know very well that the LTTE did not release the civilians because the civilians represented the only protection the LTTE has from defeat. To abandon the civilians in the safe zone is to keep them in limbo. Therefore, the ONLY humane option for the Sri Lankan Government was to facilitate militarily the evacuation of these civilians. By breaching the defenses built by the LTTE the Government created opportunities for the civilians to escape.
You also must have seen the video footage that dramatically portrayed the desperation with which the civilians seized the opportunity presented by the Government and ran to the safety of the Government risking the possibility of being killed by the bullets and suicide attacks of the LTTE. Instead of commending the Government for its strategies that enabled over 100,000 civilians to be brought to safety in a matter of 3 to 4 days as one of liberation and an unparalleled humanitarian achievement, to say that it has caused "untold suffering" reflects a serious flaw in objectivity.
If what has happened in Sri Lanka is "untold suffering" what words would be adequate and appropriate to describe the situation in Iraq where nearly 1million people died, of which 0.5million were children, and over 4.5million people were displaced? Different
words would also be needed to describe what has happened and continues to happen in Afghanistan.
It is now an established fact that the US, perhaps in collaboration with others in the International Community, is working behind the scenes to persuade the LTTE to release the civilians and surrender to a third party on the promise of a limited amnesty for the LTTE leadership. While the strategy is noteworthy from a short term humanitarian point of view, the long term implication is the survival of the LTTE leadership. Survival of the LTTE would mean either the conflict would resume or in the least, they would prevent the emergence of a new Tamil leadership with which to work out a political arrangement other than a separate state. Furthermore, surrendering to a third party would be to violate the rights of a sovereign state to try its citizens for violating its laws.
Would the US agree to such a proposition under similar circumstances?
Neville LadduwahettyYou must know that this conflict could be brought to a closure ONLY with the surrender of the LTTE, thus creating the space for a new Tamil leadership to emerge with which to work out a political arrangement that is pragmatic and acceptable to all communities. You also must know that as long as the LTTE survives such a desired outcome is not possible. Therefore we urge you to reconsider the long term implications of the strategy you are planning.
As part of this long term plan we urge you to take the initiative to review the concept of using violence by non-state actors to further political agendas. The tolerance on the part of the International Community is an encouragement and a license for these non-state actors to act without accountability and with impunity; the price for which is paid by innocent civilians. The inability of the International Community to get the LTTE to release the trapped civilians attests to the helplessness of the whole world when it comes to actions of non-state actors such as the LTTE. It is time for that to change.