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'The Tamils Have Legitimate Demands, But the LTTE’s Tactics are Deplorable' - Senator Patrick Leahy

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  • Irfan Islaam
    “What It Shall Profit a Man If He Gains the Whole World & Loses His Own Soul.” The Tamils Have Legitimate Demands, But the LTTE’s Tactics Are
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 26, 2006
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      “What It Shall Profit a Man If He Gains the Whole World & Loses His Own Soul.”
      "The Tamils Have Legitimate Demands, But the LTTE’s Tactics Are Deplorable" - Senator Patrick Leahy
       
      Sun, 2006-09-24 04:00
       
      Washington, 24 September, (Asiantribune.com): Patrick Leahy is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in a statement made in the floor of US Senate said that LTTE has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States Government on account of its wanton attacks against civilians and forced recruitment of children. These abusive tactics, which flagrantly violate international law, should be universally condemned
       
      He also pointed out that there is also the issue of United States support to Sri Lankan Government security forces, who have been responsible for violations of human rights. The Department of State needs to be doubly sure that the Leahy Amendment, which prohibits U.S. assistance to units of foreign security forces who violate human rights, is being strictly complied with.
       
      The full text of the statement made by Senator Patrick Leahy on 18 September is given below:
       
      Statement Of Sen. Patrick Leahy On Sri Lanka
       
      Mr. Leahy: I want to take a moment to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka, which not long ago was one of promise after a ceasefire agreement was signed in 2002 between the former government and the LTTE "Tamil Tigers". The ceasefire was never perfect, but for several years negotiations on a political settlement offered a ray of hope for an end to the conflict. After April 2006, however, there was escalating violence and an increasing pattern of violations of the ceasefire agreement by both sides.
       
      On July 20, the LTTE closed a reservoir sluice gate in an LTTE-controlled area near the eastern town of Trincomalee, cutting the water supply to about 60,000 people in government-controlled territory. In response, Sri Lankan government forces conducted air strikes over several days against LTTE positions in the area and on July 30 began a ground offensive to capture the reservoir’s control point.
       
      This increase in violence contributed to the more than 800 deaths reported between January and August, including some in which large numbers of civilians were killed in flagrant violations of international law by both sides, and hundreds more combatants and civilians have died since then.
       
      Politically motivated killings, the recruitment of child soldiers, indiscriminate raids on civilians, targeting of international aid workers, and torture in police custody are only some of the human rights abuses that have been recently committed as reported by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Additionally, a looming humanitarian crisis exists as the number of Sri Lankans displaced within the country by fighting this year has passed the 200,000 mark, and an estimated 8,700 citizens have fled to India. Road, air and sea links to the Tamil population in the north have been cut, and food, water and fuel shortages are severe.
       
      We should be deeply concerned with the collapse of the peace process and escalating violence in Sri Lanka. Although it is apparent that neither the government nor the LTTE can defeat the other militarily, nor have they demonstrated the political will to stop the fighting and resolve this conflict peacefully. A report on September 13 that the government and the LTTE have proposed new peace talks is welcome. But the Sri Lankan people have been disappointed countless times before. Several steps should be taken immediately, most importantly to prevent further harm to civilians who have suffered disproportionately.
       
      It is critical that humanitarian aid be allowed to reach those who have been displaced, whether as a result of the conflict or the lingering effects of the December 2004 tsunami. Relief agencies need unimpeded access to the affected populations, and civilians should be allowed to leave contested areas.
       
      The LTTE has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States Government on account of its wanton attacks against civilians and forced recruitment of children. These abusive tactics, which flagrantly violate international law, should be universally condemned.
      There is also the issue of United States support to Sri Lankan Government security forces, who have been responsible for violations of human rights. The Department of State needs to be doubly sure that the Leahy Amendment, which prohibits U.S. assistance to units of foreign security forces who violate human rights, is being strictly complied with.
       
      In addition, we should reaffirm our support for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which reports on violations of the ceasefire by both sides. A stronger monitoring presence would deter abuses, provide systematic documentation of violations, and help to address the problem of impunity that has contributed to the recurrent cycles of violence and reprisal in Sri Lanka.
      Mr. President, The Tamils have legitimate demands, but the LTTE’s tactics are deplorable. The government has been divided, and it has not been able to provide the sustained leadership necessary to reconcile the interests of the conflicting parties.
       
      The chairs of the Tokyo Donors’ Conference – Japan, the European Union, Norway and the United States, need to find more effective ways to convince both sides to return to the bargaining table. There is no other way to end this conflict. The longer it takes to resume a process of good faith negotiations the more responsibility the LTTE and the government will bear for the needless deaths of innocent civilians.
       
      I yield the floor.
       
      - Asian Tribune –
       
      Irfan Islaam
      irfanislaam@...


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