Lankan American writes to US lawmakers

An American of Sri Lankan origin has written a concise four paragraph letter to two Senators from Maryland and seven Congressmen from that state drawing their attention to issues related to the forthcoming US-led resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in Geneva.

The letter was described as ``concise, benefits the recipient and focuses on only one issue.'' It noted that ``our people write lengthy letters with the history of Ceylon without realizing it is of no interest to the recipient".

The following is the text of the letter written by Mr. Kenneth Abeywickreme, who was a director in a multi national company in SL. As Chairman of the State Timber Corporation he made it from a near-bankrupt organizations to a profit making state venture in the late 1970s-early 1980s. He was a Commanding Officer of an Army Volunteer unit.

``As Americans of Sri Lankan origin, we have a deeper perspective of issues in Sri Lanka in relation to the decision by the Department of State to move a strong resolution against Sri Lanka at the next UN Human Rights Council meeting. Let us assure you that as American citizens our interests are those pertaining to the USA. We are not supporters of the Government of Sri Lanka or any of its politicians in the government or opposition. We agree that when a group of people feel aggrieved with their government, they have a legitimate right to protest. However, if their clear objective is to overthrow the government by violence, then, as US laws and those of other democratic countries dictate, they have to be arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned or worse. US laws stipulate a maximum imprisonment of 20 years for even two people conspiring to overthrow the government by force. We have preserved the nation from terror through vigilant enforcement of this worldwide.

Imagine the situation in Sri Lanka where a terrorist movement was trained in India under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and let loose in Sri Lanka, mainly because she felt Sri Lanka was moving out of the Indian orbit and building alliances with the USA and UK. For 30 years governments in Sri Lanka were persuaded by the USA and the EU to negotiate with the terrorists while they continued to use suicide bombers (360 in number) to kill a President of Sri Lanka, several senior cabinet ministers and the entire leadership of the parliamentary opposition who were ethnic Tamils representing Tamil interests in parliament. Terrorist bombs in public buildings, trains, buses, schools killed tens of thousands. Being allowed to occupy one fourth of the country's land area, they were a de-facto unelected government with a formidable army, navy and a small air force.

In the final military confrontation, the majority of the LTTE leadership, all fighters, were killed in battle. To accuse the Sri Lankan military of human rights violations and produce unsubstantiated claims put forward by the rump LTTE that the final battle was a violation of human rights seems far fetched. We know from our own experience of all wars we have engaged in including and after WW2 that people are killed in war. If the 300,000 Tamils people who were held as hostages by the LTTE in this last battle regarded the Sri Lankan Army as human rights violators, they would not have fled from the LTTE areas to the Army even while the LTTE was killing those trying to flee their side.

Sri Lanka, whoever governs the country, needs time to heal the wounds of war. We know this from our own experiences in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. By taking one-sided positions on behalf on one group, we are making reconciliation difficult or even impossible. We would request you to get the Department of State to reconsider this issue in our own geo-political interests to maintain friends in a vibrant new Asia.

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