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Full Text: Letter signed by 58 US lawmakers urging independent international investigation of Sri Lanka war

58 US lawmakers are urging the Obama administration to call for an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes that occurred during Sri Lanka's civil war.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the members of Congress called for such a probe saying panels set up by the Sri Lankan government to probe the allegations "lacked the needed credibility."

Aug 9, 2010

Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton

We are writing to express our concern about the post-conflict situation in Sri Lanka, and to urge the U.S. government to call an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes that occurred during Sri Lanka's twenty-five year civil war.

We believe that Sri Lanka's past efforts to investigate severe human rights abuses through Commissions of inquiry - even when supplemented by an international element such as the International Independent Group of Eminent persons (IIGEP) - have not been successful and do not inspire confidence that the current national mechanism would be any more successful, transparent, or credible. As Amnesty International has noted, the Government of Sri Lanka has formed nine other ad0hoc commissions of inquiry since 1991 to investigate disappearances and human rights - related issues. These commissions have lacked the needed credibility, have delayed criminal investigations, and in several instances members of these commissions have resigned In protest at the Government's interference.

As Members of Congress, we fully share the concerns of international community that Sri Lanka's Reconciliation Commission has too much narrow scope and no mandate to hold those investigated accountable for their actions. Whatever conclusions this Commission will come to, we strongly believe that only a parallel international mechanism conducting an independent investigation with the formal backing and the authority of the specialized United Nations mechanism, such as the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, or the Office of the Secretary-General, can verify any conclusion of Sri Lanka's Reconciliation Commission. Without such verification, neither accountability nor trust can be achieved, which are crucially important for any successful reconciliation.

As you know, May 19, 2010, marked the one-year anniversary of the end of the war in Sri Lanka. There is mounting evidence that suggests both parties in the conflict committed severe human rights violations during the conflict. The State Department's own October 21, 2009 "Report to Congress on Incidents During the Recent Conflict in Sri Lanka" lists numerous crimes that require further investigation. These alleged crimes include intentional bombings of civilians and humanitarian organizations; extrajudicial abuse and detention of unarmed civilians and former combatants; the use of child soldiers; harm to civilians and civilian objects; the killing of captives or combatants seeking to surrender; and individual disappearances.

We believe it is in the best interest of the United States and the people of Sri Lanka to ensure a lasting peace in Sri Lanka following a quarter century of ethnic conflict, and that such a peace can only be reached once the full truth about the past is understood.

In light of these concerns, we urge you to call for a robust and independent international investigation that would finally clarify the events that occurred during the conflict and provide the foundation for a sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Yours Sincerely,

Jan Schakowsky

James P. McGovern

Full Text of the letter dated August 9, signed by 58 members of the US House of Representatives: (PDF File)

13 Comments

(Yawn) Why not have all 435 Congress members and all 100 Senators along with the entire Vienna Choir sign it.... because it won't make a Difference!

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | August 11, 2010 12:37 PM

I’m very happy to report that 58 US Representatives signed the letter!

This is a terrific result! Thank you very much to everyone who contacted your Representative and asked him/her to sign.

Posted by: Navaratnam | August 11, 2010 12:57 PM

All members of the Sri Lankan Parliament should send a letter to Sri Lanka's External Affirs Minister, Hon GL Peiris, urging him to initiate a robust and independant international investigation into (i) the illegal invasion of the Republic of Iraq (ii) the illegal invasion of the Republic of Afghanistan and (iii) the continuing massacre of innocent civilians in the Republics of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Sri Lankan state should also fund and pursue impeachment motions on President George W Bush and President Barrack Hussein Obama for crimes aginst humanity.

So much so for interference in the affairs of Sovereign Republics!

Posted by: George Dayantha-Gregorian | August 11, 2010 11:03 PM

We, the peace loving Srilankans will be all for it, if you the honorable law makers of the United States of America add the following to your International Independent Investigation.


1 Investigate all atrocities and war crimes committed by the US ally, Israel against the Palestinian people since 1967.

2 Investigate all the atrocities and killings of innocent civilians in Iraq and the massacre of soldiers and their families who were withdrawing from Kuwait.after the the Gulf War

3 Investigate all the atrocities and war crimes during the US war agaiast Iraq.

4 Investigate all deaths and other atrocities caused by the US and European Forces on innocent civilians in Afganistan, under the pretext of fighting a war on Terrorism.

Posted by: Godzilla | August 11, 2010 11:17 PM

International concerns are mounting and the govt is not responding or countering in a transparent or adequate manner. The way in which the govt is conducting itself locally does not build any confidence that it will deal with its own citizens according to accepted norms or standards.
The continued harrassment of the media, opposition, students and now even government servants without any recourse to the laws of the land is reprehensible. The big fish go scott free while ordinary people are being harressed and hounded. Sleeping on it is not going to make any difference.

Posted by: SriLankan | August 11, 2010 11:34 PM

The wikileaks saga shows that the American military is involved in a fully-fledged dirty war in Iraq and Afghanistan that includes extra-judicial executions and bombing of civilian targets.

In Iraq the US started an illegal war that lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and they perpetuated an illegal war in Vietnam in which over a million civilians died.

Will congress ask for an inquiry into any of that? - I don't think so. What a bunch of hypocrits.

Posted by: Saj | August 12, 2010 07:08 AM


One wonders whether Devinda Fernando can be proud to call himself Sri Lankan knowing the full extent of how cruel and dirty the ruling class have been to both Tamils and Singhalese seeking equality and justice.

Without learning from mistakes of the past its inevitable the history will repeat itself in this blood drop island in the Indian ocean.

One can call past events mistakes if the society at large examines the truth and come to terms with it. But if the society at large want to burry the cruelty for ever, then the past events are not mistakes but deliberate acts of singhala chauvenistic brutality.

Posted by: Selvan | August 12, 2010 01:36 PM

*** One wonders whether Devinda Fernando can be proud to call himself Sri Lankan knowing the full extent of how cruel and dirty the ruling class have been to both Tamils and Singhalese seeking equality and justice. ***

Selvan,

Tamils are not seeking JUSTICE.... they are seeking VENGEANCE and RETRIBUTION for what we did to your HERO-TERRORIST-FREEDOM-FIGHTERS,... you NEVER CARED when the LTTE committed these so called WAR CRIMES.... you still don't care and you will NEVER CARE... so why should we?

And to answer your question... YES, OF COURSE I am proud. Our government did what was NECESSARY to end this BRUTAL WAR that YOU PEOPLE were perpetuating. The use of EXTREME and OVERWHELMING FORCE was the only method that WORKED against you TERROR MONGERS. After 25 years of trying to NEGOTIATE and find MIDDLE GROUND and after 25 years of the LTTE playing us for fools... it was time to say ENOUGH. It was time to take you TAMIL TERRORISTS out....permanently So we DID! And I am thankful for a government that finally had the balls to keep out the meddling Western countries who have only indoctrinated themselves with the WHINEY TAMIL DIASPORA versions of their FAKE, REVISED, and FICTITIOUS HISTORY. The fact remains that deep down you are still a SUPPORTER of EELAM, - you may deny it all you want but you don't fool anyone anymore...

These WAR CRIMES accountability drives are a FARCE, they are not about Reconciliation or Closure, they are simply about trying to STICK-IT to our country once more for what we did to your Pathetic FAUX FREEDOM STRUGGLE. If you truly want accountability,...start with your own... strt with the LTTE... do your own INTERNAL INQUIRIES as to why your SOLE REPRESENTATIVES Murdered and Butchered your own people for the past 25 years. Hold them Accountable first! Then come talk to us.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | August 13, 2010 12:01 AM

Selvan, Sinhalese have forgiven all that the Tamils have done in the name of Eelam. I suggest the tamils do the same. This worked perfectly fine between the Axis & Allied forces, I don't see how it won't work here. Infact it's already working, Voting pattern in the North & East provinces in the last election makes a solid case for it.

Posted by: The way of the Dodo | August 13, 2010 12:47 AM

This is a big joke. Do those US representatives want gunfires, killings and murders every day in Sri Lanka?

Posted by: M.Sivananthan | August 13, 2010 02:26 AM

Come to think of the usual slanted comments of dear Devinda re. the Vienna Choir, if things go wrong to our Heroes - as Charles Taylor finds matters slipping out of his way in De Haag - it will be more Strauss's Waltz in the Can. This is probably why rapid steps are being taken to remove SF (sans martial title as of yesterday) from "Singing" - as the mafiosi would say. Does the Sinhala saying go as "gayeng vaticha miniyata gona enna wage" (when things go bad the man who falls from the tree is gored by the bull - for good measure)
Pow aney!

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | August 13, 2010 08:08 PM

Congenital Tamil-haters like Devinda must know in the Tamil tradition - both Hindu and Christian - revenge and retribution are taboo; they are recognised as atavastic. There are other cultures-religions around that talk of blood, revenge and rewards in heaven for murder that must be confusing these critics. Lankan Tamils recognise President Rajapakse and the forces rid them of their oppressor. This has been said in many quarters both by the Tamil people and their elected representatives. Why some of the Tamil youth took to arms in the absence of relief - as their Sinhala counter-parts at some point di - are all now part of history. We are for proper enquiries as to who indulged in HR & War Crimes - both in the forces and the other side.
What is at issue that must be bothering some of our self-claimed patriots is that the world concludes GoSL and the forces cannot be entrusted with judging themselves on what happened in May 19. When even Sarath Fonseka, the Army Commander says he has no objection to this - what more? Devinda's knee-jerk reactions and unfettered language are all symptomatic of a mendal condition and is not the voice of decent Sinhala folk - many of whom stridently oppose injustice against the Tamils. Thoughtful and scholarly articles in these blogs clearly establish this.

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | August 14, 2010 03:00 PM

*** revenge and retribution are taboo; they are recognised as atavastic. ***

Really Senguttavan? and I suppose you HONEST TAMIL ANGELS never break your own rules?

Lets speak of REALITY, and not indulge in UTOPIAN FANTASIES about what your people are supposed to behave like... The FACT REMAINS... if the ENTIRE SRI LANKAN armed forces were put on TRIAL, FOUND GUILTY, and HANGED for these so called WAR CRIMES that you people are pushing your Former COLONIAL BWANAs to impose on us..... It would STILL NOT BE ENOUGH... it would NEVER BE ENOUGH.

This WAR CRIMES Circus performance would not stop till the entire Sri Lankan State was DISMANTLED and Tamil have successfully carved out EELAM for themselves. That, my dear Senguttavan, is the TRUTH we Sri Lankans know well and cannot be fooled about.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | August 15, 2010 01:50 AM

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