CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WASHINGTON, DC 20515
TELEPHONE: (202) 225-5021
October 30, 2000
The Honorable Madeleine Albright
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Dear Madam Secretary:
We write to urge you to register
your concern with the Government of Sri Lanka regarding the
brutal murder of twenty-four Tamil prisoners
inside the Bindunuwewa, Sri Lanka detention center on October
In addition to the gruesome murder
of these Tamil prisoners by machete, clubbing, and stoning, an
additional 40 Tamil prisoners were seriously injured and 20 others
are reported missing.
We understand that the local Sri
Lankan governmental authorities did nothing to prevent this attack
and failed to take measures to protect these helpless detainees even
as the deadly assault progressed. Therefore, we request that you
support an independent and international inquiry of this horrific
incidents such as these are not isolated occurrences in Sri Lanka.
What is most disturbing is that despite
reports from international organizations such as Amnesty
International, atrocities such as these continue to be repeated.
Moreover, in this latest incident, as well as in other similar cases
in the past,
the Government of Sri Lanka has failed to protect Tamil prisoners
under its custody.
Because of the lack of progress to
guarantee the human rights of all Sri Lankans and questionable
police and security practices that are incompatible with equal
protection principles, we request your assistance in providing
additional assistance for rule of law and human rights programs in
We ask for your support in securing
at least an additional $1 million to support the efforts of
nongovernmental organizations working in Sri Lanka that seek to
promote rule of law and good governance programs.
We believe that it is essential for
the United States to promote democratic principles in Sri Lanka and
to allocate the resources necessary to support nongovernmental
organizations to carry out programs designed to bring about genuine
judicial and legal reform in Sri Lanka.
In the interim, we ask that you urge
the Government of Sri Lanka to release all Tamil prisoners who are
being held in custody without being charged with a crime. This
unacceptable practice is authorized in Sri Lanka through the
Prevention of Terrorism Act.
The denial of due process of law
under such a broadly written and vague law is manifestly unjust and
would be unthinkable in the United States. Accordingly, we request
that you urge the Government of Sri Lanka to repeal the Prevention
of Terrorism Act because it leads to the incarceration of Tamils
simply because of their ethnic background.
We will closely monitor developments
in Sri Lanka and continue to work closely with Ambassador Wills on
these matters of concern to other Members of Congress and me. Thank
you for your consideration of my requests.
Bernard Gilman, Chairman
Brad Sherman, Member
Sherrod Brown, Member