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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam > United States & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Congressional Human Rights Caucus Staff Roundtable, December 1998

United States & the struggle for Tamil Eelam

Congressional Human Rights Caucus
Staff Roundtable - CHRC Archive: Briefings

Human Rights Developments in Sri Lanka:
The Violence Continues

Friday, December 11th, 1998
10:30 a.m. -- 12:00 p.m.
Room 2358

The Congressional Human Rights Caucus would like to invite all staff members to attend a Caucus Roundtable on human rights developments in Sri Lanka. The event will take place on Friday, December 11th, 1998, at 10:30 a.m. in room 2358 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

After gaining independence from Britain in 1948, the South Asian island nation of Sri Lanka was considered a model of democracy among the newly decolonized countries, enjoying high social indicators of health and education. However, grievances of discrimination and harassment by the ethnic Tamil minority exploded into armed conflict in 1983, which gave rise to a brutal civil war that has lasted over the past fifteen years. In this conflict, the elected government of Sri Lanka, backed by the mostly Buddhist Sinhalese majority, is fighting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE fights for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in the north and east of the country. Last year, the United States placed the LTTE on its list of terrorist organizations.

Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations have repeatedly accused the Sri Lankan Security Forces, pro-government Tamil militants and the LTTE of serious human rights violations against the civilian population. Well over 54,000 people have died in this civil war so far. Over a million people have been displaced, and thousands have "disappeared." Even though the government instituted a Human Rights Commission Office in Jaffna and tried nine members of the security forces in a 1996 murder and rape case, members of the security forces accused of human rights violations are seldom punished for their human rights crimes. The ongoing war took another negative turn in late September with battles near Mankulam and Kilinochchi which resulted in the death of some 1,300 people, with hundreds more wounded. Various offers of international mediation were unsuccessful, and, although the Sri Lankan government has presented a political initiative aimed at redressing Tamil grievances, this effort has stalled in parliament.

We will welcome as our expert speakers:

Colleen Malone, Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace
Richard Reoch, International Working Group on Sri Lanka
Elizabeth Bowen, Bowen Group
Steven Rickard, Amnesty International USA
Jerry Lueders, U.S. Department of State

We look forward to seeing you at this important event. If you have any questions, please call Hans Hogrefe (Rep. Tom Lantos) at 202-225-3531 or Kelley Currie (Rep. John Edward Porter) at 202-225-4835.

/s/Tom Lantos                                                                   /s/John Edward Porter
Member of Congress                                                         Member of Congress


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