- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Fifty-eight members of Congress are calling for an international investigation into charges of war crimes against the Sri Lankan government during its 26-year civil war against rebels who pioneered terrorist tactics and used civilians as human shields.
Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Washington told Embassy Row on Thursday that the congressional complaints are premature and he suspects the members were influenced by opponents of the Sri Lankan government.
In a letter this week to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 54 House Democrats and four House Republicans cited the “alleged crimes” that include the intentional bombing of civilians and humanitarian organizations; abuse and detention of unarmed civilians and captured rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE); the use of child soldiers; and the killing of rebels trying to surrender in the last battle of the war last year.
“In light of these concerns, we urge you to call for a robust and independent international investigation that would finally clarify the events that occurred during the conflict and provide the foundation for a sustainable peace in Sri Lanka,” they said in the letter sent to the State Department on Monday.
The congressional letter also questioned the independence of a reconciliation commission established by the Sri Lankan government to restore stability after a war that claimed about 70,000 lives among the South Asian nation’s majority Sinahlese and minority Tamil communities.
Ambassador Jaliya Chitran Wickramasuriyasaid he regretted the tone of the congressional letter.
“They have neglected all the good work happening in Sri Lanka,” he said.
He noted that his government was overwhelmed by 300,000 refugees from the war when the conflict ended with a rebel surrender in May 2009. The ambassador said about 90 percent of those refugees have been resettled in their homes, mostly in Tamil regions in the northern tip of the island nation.
Mr. Wickramasuriya also questioned the timing of the letter because the reconciliation commission has not completed its work. He added that Mrs. Clinton expressed strong encouragement for Sri Lanka’s postwar efforts when Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris visited Washington in May.
The ambassador suspected the congressional letter was influenced by what he described as a small, but influential, group of Tamil separatists in the United States.
“It is a couple of people responsible for all the lies,” he said.
During the foreign minister’s visit, Mrs. Clinton said the Obama administration “strongly supports political and ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka.” She urged the government to give the commission a broad mandate to investigate all claims of war crimes and human rights violations. She also recognized the government’s “tremendous progress” in resettling refugees.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed the Tamil rebels for crimes against civilians, and some influential U.S. think tanks have recognized the brutality of the Tigers.
The Council on Foreign Relations said in a report on the rebels: “The LTTE is notorious for having pioneered the suicide bomb jacket, as well as the use of women in suicide attacks.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
- Embassy Row: India strikes back over diplomat's arrest
- Embassy Row: India 'shocked,' 'appalled' by consular officer's arrest
- Embassy Row: Wife of Christian held in Iran feels abandoned by Obama
- Wife of jailed U.S. Christian in Iran calls for White House help
- Most Americans want no Iranian uranium enrichment: poll
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- EDITORIAL: More Lerner smoking-gun emails at IRS
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.