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Home > Human Rights & Humanitarian Law > Armed Conflict & the Law > What is Terrorism? - Law & Practise > Terrorism: United States Law & Practise > Rajan Sriskandarajah writes to US Secretary of State, Colin L.Powell on Global Terrorism Report, 2000 > US & the Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle
United States & the Tamil Struggle
Re: US Department of State Report on Terrorism
Rajan Sriskandarajah writes to
5 May 2001
The Honorable Colin L. Powell,
I was disappointed, and also deeply offended, by the report titled 'Patterns of Global Terrorism -2000', released by the US State Department on 27th April 2001.
Firstly, the statement that 'Tamils historically have served as drug couriers', is insulting to the Tamil people. I am a Tamil (one of 70 million worldwide), and the vast majority of us are decent, law-abiding citizens in our respective countries of residence/citizenship.
I am a Physician and have been a highly regarded member of my community here in the United States for the past 22 years. People know me also as a Tamil, and this broad-brush characterization of all Tamils by the US State Department is most demeaning to me.
Secondly, the inclusion of 'narcotics smuggling' in the context of the LTTE (background information on designated terrorist groups) implies that the LTTE and/or its supporters are engaged in this activity. There is no data to substantiate this accusation.
In fact, another arm of the State Department, the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, in its latest report states quite clearly,
The Sri Lankan government has been, for some time, at pains to depict the Tamil liberation movement and the Tamil Diaspora in a bad light, and the accusation of 'drug trafficking' is one element in this disinformation exercise. The uncritical inclusion of this 'rumor' in the US State Department Report seriously undermines the credibility of the US State Department.
The Sri Lanka portion of this publication, I find, is a simple rehash of previous years' reports. It serves no purpose other than to lend a helping hand to the Sri Lankan government, which has a serious human rights problem. This type of support has only emboldened them to continue with the failed policies, and also intensify the terrible humanitarian crisis in that country.
Unless some background information on the conflict is also provided in these reports the situation is likely to continue. At a recent briefing to the Congressional sub-committee on Middle East and South Asia I made a presentation, where I showed (with the aid of Sri Lankan government figures) the government of Sri Lanka to be responsible for 88 percent of the killings in that country (the real data, I am sure, will show a greater government liability). These include custodial killings, massacres, indiscriminate aerial bombing and shelling of the civilian population and disappearances, all committed by the Sri Lankan security forces against the Tamil community there.
Background information has become all the more important in view of the recent efforts by the LTTE to cooperate with Norwegian peace initiative (with a self-imposed 4 month ceasefire), and the concurrent efforts by the Sri Lankan government to thwart it.
I sincerely hope that under your leadership future reports will be constructive, and become useful in eliminating the causes of terrorism, at least in the case of Sri Lanka.