WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- On the last day of congressional sessions before they went on recess for the November elections, 31 US lawmakers wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Clinton making a strong case for heightened engagement on Sri Lanka. The letter initiated by Representatives Bill Johnson (Ohio), William Keating, Michael Grimm and Walter Jones quickly gained bipartisan support and included Representative Steve Chabot, chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
The lawmakers said that UNHRC Resolution 19/L.2 passed in March 2012 "signaled an important step forward in placing additional pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement constructive recommendations contained in the LLRC report, while also noting that the report failed to adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law." They went on to say that "despite these initial steps toward reconciliation and accountability, we remain concerned that the Government of Sri Lanka will resist taking the good faith steps necessary to implement both its obligations under the UNHRC Resolution and the LLRC Report."
Welcoming the call by US legislators, Chella Logan, the Advocacy Coordinator for USTPAC, said, "We are thankful to the lawmakers for sending a strong signal to Sri Lanka that there won't be any let up on calls for full accountability for the killings of over 40,000 Tamil civilians in 2009, and delaying tactics by Sri Lanka will only increase calls for independent international investigations." Mr. Logan pointed out that the lawmakers' reference to the unanimously adopted US Senate Resolution 84 which unambiguously called for an international investigation mechanism gives hope to the survivors of the mass atrocities in Sri Lanka. "There can't be true reconciliation without full accountability," Logan noted.
The joint letter stated, "Congress voiced its opinion on the matter when the Senate unanimously approved S. Res. 84 on March 1, 2011. We are pleased with the passage of this legislation in the Senate, which calls for an independent investigation into reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides during and after the war. However, the findings and recommendations of such investigations are meaningless if they result in hollow rhetoric and empty promises that fail to move the reconciliation process forward in Sri Lanka."
Calling on the State Department for vigilance, the letter said, "We believe that the State Department must ensure that its diplomatic efforts yield fruitful and meaningful results via further U.S. action and engagement on reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. With the impending evaluation of Sri Lanka's compliance with the UNHRC resolution in March 2013, there is an added sense of urgency to this request. It would be all too easy for the Rajapaksa administration to make excuses for failing to adhere to its obligations at the next HRC session without strong oversight from the State Department."
Recalling previous letters from Congressmen McGovern and Neal which called for specific timelines for implementation, appointment of a special envoy for Sri Lanka and engaging directly with the representatives of the Tamil population, the legislators pleaded for stronger engagement from the office of the Secretary of State: "We respectfully urge you and your colleagues to purposefully and dynamically engage with the government of Sri Lanka in advancing reconciliation and accountability and a return to peaceful stability."
(For full details of the letter please visit: http://www.ereleases.com/pic/2012-US-Legislators-Letter.pdf)
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SOURCE United States Tamil Political Action Council