Boston Tamils protest over Kerry report

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 December 2009, 01:04 GMT]
Tamils in Boston, U.S., protested in front of Senator John F. Kerry's office Monday against a report that Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee released earlier this month that called for friendlier relations between the United States and Sri Lanka. "The protesters claimed that the report was biased towards the Sinhalese ethnic majority that rules Sri Lanka, and against the Tamil minority that has been fighting for a separate homeland for decades," Boston Globe reported in its Monday edition.

The 18-page report released on the 5th of December by US Senate Foreign Relations Committee advocating the need to focus on economy and security of Sri Lanka instead of humanitarian considerations to initiate warming of relationship with Sri Lanka was slammed by Rights organizations as "incredibly shoddy" and drew comments that authors of the report appear to be people who "don’t know anything about Sri Lanka."

The Boston Tamil group has been encouraging Kerry and other US officials to open a war crimes investigation, charging that the Sri Lankan army shelled hospitals and killed civilians in their effort to defeat the rebels, the Boston Globe said.

"The report falls short on presenting the Tamil's grievances," said the Tamil association's secretary, who noted that one of the staffers who co-authored the report is of Sinhalese descent, the paper said.

"To question the objectivity and expertise of a Foreign Relations Committee staffer based on her ethnicity is deeply troubling," the paper quoted Frederick Jones, Kerry's spokesman, as responding to the protesters' accusations.

While many expatriate Tamils believe that after the alleged Sri Lanka Army (SLA) slaughter of more than 20,000 Tamil civilians in May this year, any reconciliation is possible only after proper accountability is established for the massacre, the report instead placed the blame on the Tamils, saying, "[f]or their part, Tamil leaders have not yet made anticipated conciliatory gestures that might ease government concerns and foster a genuine dialogue."

Professor Boyle who teaches International Law at the University of Illinois College of Law, characterized the statement as a "sick joke, and a demented fraud."

"This report is an incredibly shoddy, ill-informed piece of work that grossly overstates the strategic importance of Sri Lanka to the United States and woefully understates the degree of abuses carried out by the government there," said Robert Templer, director of the Asia programme at the Brussels- based International Crisis Group (ICG), according a report on IPS.

"Maybe the people who wrote the report don’t know anything about Sri Lanka or maybe they’re of the school that says that everything on the planet is strategic," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. "The huge human-rights and humanitarian problems that continue there are not small; they’re central to any principled diplomatic engagement with Sri Lanka at this point. So [the notion] that we are in a competition with China, which I think is driving this, is misplaced," he told IPS.


External Links:
BostonGlobe: Tamil activists protest at Kerry's office SRI LANKA: RECHARTING U.S. STRATEGY AFTER THE WAR
IPS: US-SRI LANKA: Senate Report Urges Warmer Ties


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