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Sri Lanka 'capable partner to ensure maritime security of the region' but rights concern strain ties with US - Asst. Sec. Robert O. Blake, Jr

'Sri Lanka govt conduct during final months of conflict hamper US ability to fully engage'

Testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia

Excerpts from Testimony ~ by Robert O. Blake, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Washington, DC, April 5, 2011

Off the coast of southern India sits Sri Lanka, still recovering from the 26-year conflict with the LTTE.

Positioned directly on the shipping routes that carry petroleum products and other trade from the Gulf to East Asia, Sri Lanka remains of strategic interest to the U.S. An important contributor to global peacekeeping operations, Sri Lanka stands poised to be a capable and willing partner to effectively combat violent extremism, trafficking and piracy, and thereby help to ensure the maritime security of the region.

But the Government’s worrisome record on human rights, weakening of democratic institutions and practices, and the way in which it conducted the final months of its conflict against the Tamil Tigers hamper our ability to fully engage.

The Administration believes – and Congressional Appropriations language specifies – that our security cooperation, in many forms, should remain limited until progress has been made on fundamental human rights, democracy and governance issues, and the concrete steps necessary for a true and lasting national reconciliation.

The United States welcomed Sri Lanka’s establishment of their Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and its implementing body – the Inter Agency Advisory Committee. Sri Lanka also has taken some steps forward on reconciliation such as resettling the vast majority of the nearly 300,000 internally displaced persons at the end of the conflict, demining 5 million square meters, reducing the reach of High Security Zones, and hiring 335 Tamil-speaking police, and beginning a dialogue with the Tamil National Alliance but more needs to be done. We have urged Sri Lanka to take credible and meaningful steps towards accountability and have warned that a failure to do so is likely to generate pressure for an international commission.

Our assistance programs aim to increase post-conflict stability in the North of Sri Lanka by promoting reconciliation, enhancing local governance, building civil society capacity, increasing economic opportunities to those affected by conflict, and assisting the continued resettlement and reintegration of displaced persons.

Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, South Asia is one of the most vital regions in the world for the United States and its importance will only grow. The recent histories of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and Maldives show that they are joining India in consolidating democracy, on a path towards full human rights, and contributing to the peace and security of the larger world. They may seem small, but they understand the need to think big and the importance of working with the United States. ~ courtesy: US Dept. of State ~

7 Comments

Interesting reassurance by US Asst. Sec. Robert O. Blake, Jr.
But I also read from other news sources that soon Mr O Blake will visit SL.

My pauser is, will this visit be similar to MR prewar , postwar, pre world cup visits to Sabarimalai and Ezumalai ( Thirupathi ) ?
How much Kanikkai Mr O blake will offer in the form of aids or loans to SL demigods ?

Hope this time O Blake learn his rudiments properly from both Bernad Shaw and Rudyrad Kipling sayings before landing in SL as an uninvited or invited guest of MR.
I think BS said "The female of the species is much deadlier than the male". But in Colombo he will learn and utter a similar say that SL demigods is much deadlier than not only the the Indian demigods but also the Indian real Gods.

Otherwise colonies change hands but majority of the Tamils across the globe continue to be indentured to new masters of post European era.

Posted by: Hare Krishna, Hare Nara | April 6, 2011 12:30 AM

''.... 26-year conflict....'' ?

Dear Mr Blake, it's 63-yr conflict:

http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/08/outline_of_submission_made_to.html
Jayantha Dhanapala’s written submission to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, written submission, 30 August 2010: ‘’ Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality.
http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/09/jayanatha_dhanapala_submission.html
Jayantha Dhanapala’s oral presentation to LLRC, 2 September 2010:
Our inability to manage our own internal affairs has led to foreign intervention but more seriously has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group of our citizens.’’
(Dhanapala was formerly an Under-Secretary in the UN and was also a candidate for UNSG)

Posted by: eureka | April 6, 2011 08:37 AM

Dear Sir Blake
The South of the country is recovering from 26-yr conflict with the LTTE. The Northeast is still struggling with the 63-yr conflict with their government:
http://www.llrc.lk/images/stories/Chandra_Jayaratne_Speech.pdf
Submission before Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission(LLRC) by Chandra Jayaratne, 23 September 2010:
‘’Inequitable allocation of national resources and consequential disparities in regional economic development, infrastructure development and public service delivery have sown the seeds of discontent and disillusionment leading to conflict, insurrections of the South and the North and even the armed struggle towards a separate administration.’’(Jayaratne is a member of the Board of Directors of International Centre for Ethnic Studies and was a former President of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce).

Posted by: ward | April 6, 2011 08:42 AM

''An important contributor to global peacekeeping operations, Sri Lanka stands poised to be a capable and willing partner to effectively combat violent extremism, trafficking and piracy, and thereby help to ensure the maritime security of the region.''

i. series of pogroms and draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act have been taking away the human security of ethnic minorities

ii. http://www.llrc.lk/images/stories/docs/August2010/Mangala%20Moonasinghe.pdf
Mr. Mangala Moonasinghe, 17 August 2010:
… so, who started terrorism – it was we – and then gradually naturally the youth, Tamil youth, went into terrorism in the north. … So terrorism did not come on its own. We created them sir, we created them. …….. Another matter of serious concern is that the number of NGOs and INGOs working and helping in rehabilitation are being reduced. ….''
(Moonsainghe was a former diplomat and MP)

iii.
Philip Alston, Roundtable, Human Rights Council, Geneva, 3 June 2008: ''In 2005 I sounded the alarm. I said that Sri Lanka was on the verge of a major crisis and I indicated to the General Assembly how to avoid the crisis. But nothing was done. The Sri Lankan government did not try and discuss the recommendations with me and it has not made any serious effort to resolve human rights problems. It only acted in Geneva to avoid the Council taking any measures against it".

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2011 08:55 AM

''maritime security'' ??

No human security for Tamils:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11328159
Young Tamils in Sri Lanka 'being held without charge', 16 September 2010:
''A retired senior diplomat in Sri Lanka says several thousand young people of the Tamil ethnic minority are being held in custody without any charges being brought against them. Nanda Godage said some had been incarcerated in this way for years.''

http://www.groundviews.org/2010/10/17/an-allergy-to-analysis-and-historical-amnesia-in-sri-lanka/#comments
Allergy to analysis and historical amnesia in Sri Lanka, Dayan Jayatilleka, 17 October 2010:
''... The Bandaranaike administration sowed the dragon’s teeth and it took Mahinda Rajapakse to slay the marauding dragon, with all the corollaries and consequences that entailed. ... Dozens of Tamil youth were imprisoned under Emergency for years, for the crime of hoisting black flags against the promulgation of the ’72 Constitution. ...'' (Jayatilleka is a Sinhalese and the Ambassador to France)

Posted by: silva | April 6, 2011 05:43 PM

Tamil grievances have arisen from their aspirations, not vice versa. We've heard Emmanuel elucidating Tamil aspirations from the pulpits of catholic churches in Jaffna when he was the vicar there. Emmanuel preached about Eelam and how to get it through terrorism. Emmanuel’s interest in Eelam was so much; he even found a special place for Tamil terrorists in his God’s heaven. Emmanuel and his GTF is a part and parcel of LTTE rump that is full of tiger spots.

Likewise, we knew how Robert Blake and his hierarchies at the pentagon pulled strings to frustrate our fight against terrorism. Let us remind ourselves a bit of that history: Anglo-French-American consortium and most of their buddies named both Al Quada and LTTE as terrorists. They said LTTE is the most dangerous terrorist organization and is a hindrance to the world peace. The US started their fight with Al Quada in 90s and Sri Lanka started its fight with LTTE long before that. Both aimed to rid the terrorists. Today, the LTTE is finished but Al Quada is very much alive not just in Afghanistan but in very many countries. Should not Anglo-French-American consortium explore, why? I'll tell them why.

But first, I must let me say this as well; when Sri Lanka was about to vanquish LTTE in 2009, Anglo-French-American consortium was visibly not happy. They asked Sri Lanka government to let LTTE leader Pirapaharan surrender to a third party. They didn't ponder whether they would allow anyone to offer Bin Laden the same privilege in a similar circumstance? Clearly, the US wanted to preserve terrorism on one hand and destroy it in another. It is that double standards that hinder the defeat of Al Quada.

When I read a western journalistic report about GTF and Blake that said; “Key concerns of the Tamil people and ways of addressing their grievances were discussed at length with GTF and Father Emmanuel,” I immediately knew what they were aiming at. I am sure very many others knew it as well. So, let's tell them, we are not amused of Mr. Blake’s discussions with GTF and why he wants to visit Sri Lanka.
Leela

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2011 01:10 AM

Tamil grievances have arisen from their aspirations, not vice versa. We've heard Emmanuel elucidating Tamil aspirations from the pulpits of catholic churches in Jaffna when he was the vicar there. Emmanuel preached about Eelam and how to get it through terrorism. Emmanuel’s interest in Eelam was so much; he even found a special place for Tamil terrorists in his God’s heaven. Emmanuel and his GTF is a part and parcel of LTTE rump that is full of tiger spots.


Likewise, we knew how Robert Blake and his hierarchies at the pentagon pulled many a string to frustrate our fight against terrorism. So, we shouldn’t forget that history:

Anglo-French-American consortium said LTTE is the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world and a hindrance to peace. In fact together with Al Quada, they added LTTE to their list of terrorists. So, we thought Westerners wanted to rid all terrorist in their earnest.

But when Sri Lanka was about to overrun LTTE in 2009, Anglo-French-American consortium was visibly not happy. We knew it when they asked Sri Lanka government to let LTTE leader Pirapaharan surrender to a third party. Why third party, Anglo-French-American consortium should have asked Pirapaharan to surrender to Sri Lanka army.

Pirapaharan had done countless and heinous terrorist acts in Sri Lanka and India. He was the most wanted man in both countries. So, if India demanded Pirapaharan be handed over to them, we would have understood their call. But the demand by Anglo-French-American consortium! What would they do if Bin Laden was in a similar situation?

Such calls by Westerners instigated Piripaharan to prolong the misery of 300,000 people who he kept as cannon fodder. He hid his mortars and cannon with them and fired at the army. Today, the LTTE is finished but Al Quada is very much alive not just in Afghanistan but in very many countries. Should not Anglo-French-American consortium explore, why?

Whether they want to know why or not, we are duty bound to tell them why. It is clear that the US wanted to preserve terrorism on one hand and destroy it in another. It is such double standards that hinder the defeat of Al Quada and similar terrorism.

When I read a western journalistic report about GTF and Blake that said; “Key concerns of the Tamil people and ways of addressing their grievances were discussed at length with GTF and Father Emmanuel,” I immediately knew it is another western double standard. I am sure very many others realized it as well. So, let's tell them, we are not amused of Mr. Blake’s discussions with GTF and why he wants to visit Sri Lanka.
Leela

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2011 04:36 AM

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