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Published:June 3rd, 2006 09:58 EST

U.S. Affirms Support for Sri Lankan Fight Against Terrorists By Phillip Kurata

By SOP newswire

Washington -- The United States stands "squarely behind the government" of Sri Lanka in its struggle against Tamil terrorists who bear "the major responsibility for the upsurge of violence," said Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher.

In a press conference and in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 1, Boucher spelled out the U.S. policy on backing the democratically elected Sri Lankan government and identifying Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organization that is causing the political situation to deteriorate.

"They (LTTE) have committed scores of unprovoked attacks on civilians and military personnel, carried out assassinations and suicide operations, continue to recruit children and prevented Tamils from exercising their democratic rights in last year’s election. For nine years we have had them on our official list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations; they truly deserve the label," he said.

Boucher said even though the United States disagrees with the LTTE methods, it recognizes that the Tamil minority has "a very legitimate desire ... to be able to control their own lives, to rule their own destinies and to govern themselves in their own homeland, in the areas they've traditionally inhabited."

The assistant secretary said that the government has not lived up to its commitment made in Geneva in February to stop paramilitary groups operating in areas under its control from committing violent operations.

"Arrests should be made, and the culprits prosecuted.  All Sri Lankans -- Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese -- need to have confidence that the government will protect them," he said.

Boucher urged the government to offer a "positive vision to Tamils and Muslims of a future Sri Lanka where their legitimate grievances are addressed and their security assured."  He said the government could demonstrate the sincerity of its vision by taking steps such as assuring Tamils the right to use their own language and providing equal employment opportunities in the public and private sectors.

Boucher said the United States is supporting the Sri Lankan government diplomatically, economically and militarily.

Since a tsunami devastated long stretches of the Sri Lankan coast in December 2004, the United States has contributed more than $130 million to a wide variety of rehabilitation efforts, Boucher said. (See U.S. Response to Tsunami.)  

He arrived in Sri Lanka after meeting in Tokyo with representatives of Japan, the European Union and Norway, which along with the United States are the co-chairs of the Sri Lankan peace process.  He said the co-chairs have overseen the spending of $3.4 billion to build infrastructure, schools, parks and a variety of developmental projects.  He said 20 percent of those funds have gone to northern and eastern areas of the island where the Tamil community is concentrated.

The assistant secretary said the Sri Lankan business community has a role to play in creating stability on the island and needs to maintain a strong voice in support of peace.

"You know that if Sri Lanka reverts to a full-scale war, the consequences for the business climate will be devastating.  Investors -- be they foreign or local -- won't support projects that could collapse in the chaos and uncertainty of a war-torn country.  Tourists will almost certainly stay away, and insurance rates on shipping could go up significantly.  The government's outlays for the cost of war will drain much needed resources from other development enterprises," he said.

U.S. diplomatic support for Sri Lanka involves urging other countries not to sell arms to the Sri Lankan terrorists, Boucher said.  In military terms, he said, the United States is providing training, exchanges and some equipment, such as a coastal patrol boat that was delivered in 2005.

A transcript of Boucher’s press conference in Sri Lanka and a transcript of his remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka are available at the State Department Web site.

For additional information on U.S. policy in the region, see South and Central Asia.


(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:


Comments from readers:

Tamil struggle in Srilanka has more than 50 years of history. The conflict started in early 50s when Tamils rights were denied by the Sinhala only act which made Sinhala the sole official language. Since then Tamils were systematically discriminated and terrorized by the Sinhala dominated government. Tamils requested self-rule, and struggle with Sinhala government non-violently until late 70s. None of the foreign governments put pressure on Srilankan government to resolve the conflicts through negotiation during this time. Tamils non-violent protests were failed and suppressed by using military pressure and violence. Early 80s, Tamil youths under LTTE leadership started to fight against Sinhala state terrorism.

What US governmetn try to do is that they support the Sinhala chauvinist lead government, and support state terrorism. Instead of forcing the government to find a solution for this long standing struggle, the US government decided to punish Tamils.

If you want to know more details about atrocities committed by the Srilankan state terrorist, please visit these following sites. {Human right organization} {Human right organization} {Has huge information about Tamil struggle} {Has more well written articles. Operates in US}


Velmahiban Velauthapillai
Ottawa, Canada.