"US should support all options"
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 July 2000, 06:40 GMT]
"US should make clear that we would support all options including secession to be discussed in the negotiating process," said Benjamin Gilman, Chairman of the Committee on International Relations, Congress of the United States, in a letter addressed to Hon Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State.
Full text of the letter follows:
"I am writing to express my concern over the war and worsening humanitarian crises in Sri Lanka. It is time our government take a more active role in resolving the crises.
"The Tamil Tigers are well positioned to soon retake Jaffna. The Indian Government has agreed to evacuate the trapped Sri Lankan Government soldiers if both the Tigers and Colombo agree. In order for the evacuation to take place, the government will probably have to abandon their military equipment. This will be a decisive political and military victory for the Tigers.
"The process of negotiations begun by Norway could begin to move forward due to the Tigers likelihood of taking over Jaffna. Although New Delhi and Colombo publically state that they will not support independence for the Tamils, it is unclear what the parties, including the Tigers are willing to accept. The Norwegians have the agreement of all the concerned parties to help begin negotiations and Norwegian diplomats have made several visits to both India and Sri Lanka. The U.S should make it clear that we would support all options including secession to be discussed in the negotiating process. If all preconditions are lifted then all the parties could get on with the process of resolving their differences.
"The Sri Lankan Government has a long history of repressing the human rights of the Tamil people. In addition, the Sri Lankan government's embargo on food, medicine and other essentials to the Tamil people has caused a humanitarian crisis. Its ban on access for the media to the war zones could indicate that the Sri Lankan government is concerned that the outside world may learn things that may not reflect well on its image. For these reasons, it is critical tht we express our displeasure over the media ban, we ensure that the flow of arms and training by the U.S end immediately, and we strongly urge the Sri Lanka to permit humanitarian aid to enter Jaffna."
In another letter dated June 29th, thirteen Congressmen led by Michael Capuano, representing the 8th District of Massachusettes, asked President Chnadrika Kumaratunge to permit international agencies, specifically UNHCR and ICRC, to help "civilians in the Jaffna Peninsula trapped between government troops and rebels move to safer areas to be determined by the UNHCR and ICRC."