Friday, February 22, 2008

Disingenuous about Tamils

Sri Lankan Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke claims his country is a democracy (“Tamil homeland fantasy,” Commentary, Sunday). A generous assessment of Sri Lanka will quickly reveal that it has systematically crushed all organized political dissent by Tamils. Sri Lanka does not operate on the principle of doing what is best for its citizens, but rather on doing what best supports its goal — the destruction of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The obtuse ambassador ignores these obvious facts and therefore needs to be reminded that the Sri Lankan style of democracy has a heavy bias against Tamils.

His attempt to draw some equivalence between al Qaeda and the ongoing struggle of Tamils in Sri Lanka is disingenuous. A troubling and continuous process of ethnic disenfranchisement and displacement underpins the latter. The civilized world must expose such deceptive and despicable tactics used by Sri Lanka to score points in the war against Tamils in Sri Lanka. However, most Western nations, including the United States, have bought into Sri Lanka’s less-than-honest modus operandi.

I am a Canadian of Tamil decent who supports Sri Lanka’s right to exist, and exist in peace. I also support the idea of a Tamil homeland, for everyone should and must have a land to call his own. Tamils intend to express to the Western world our discontent and indignation that the Sri Lankan government is spending its energy inventing deceptive ways to destroy the Tamils rather than to embrace them. It is past time for Western leaders to say whether they are or are not willing take a tough stand against such sham democracies to keep true to Western heritage and values.

The civil war that has been bleeding Sri Lanka for decades is basically a creation of a long line of deceptions. Compounding this is the angry deflecting bravado of successive leaders unable to admit the flaws of their country and their own ample share in the common disaster. A visionary leader would pay attention to solving these problems instead of accusing the disenfranchised minority.


Vancouver, British Columbia

The Sri Lankan ambassador claims in his column “Tamil homeland fantasy” that the notion of the north and east of Sri Lanka being the traditional homeland of the Tamils is a fantasy, but he puts forward no proof for his assertion. He has conveniently omitted that the Indo-Lanka peace accord of 1987 and the 13th amendment to his country’s constitution are based on the recognition of the north and east of Sri Lanka as the traditional homeland of the Tamils. He also fails to mention that the Jaffna library that held proof of such claims was burnt down in 1981 under the supervision of two government ministers who have never been brought to justice.

The ambassador claims that it is the Tamils who are pursuing the agenda of a separate state and that they are doing so through violence. He again fails to mention that long before the civil war officially began in 1983, the mainstream Tamil politicians tried peaceful and democratic means of fulfilling the Tamil desire for self-rule. In the end, they too declared that the only way left for the Tamils was through a separate state: a platform on which they won the majority of the seats in the north and east of Sri Lanka in the 1977 election.

The president at the time responded to this overwhelming mandate for separation by excluding the victorious Tamil parties from parliament and changing the constitution in 1978 to the present “unitary” constitution, which all but stifled any democratic means of redressing Tamil grievances. The ambassador also fails to mention that while the Tamils were trying to address their grievances through peaceful and democratic means, their efforts were met with violence. I refer to the anti-Tamil riots of 1956, 1977 and 1983, in which more than 3,000 Tamils were killed and their homes, possessions and businesses were looted and torched.

Last but not least, the ambassador tries to claim that his country is a democracy that needs America’s support. A country where dissent is stifled, where disappearances of minority Tamils are not investigated, where opposition politicians have their security detail withdrawn if they oppose the government and where the president and his brothers (some of whom are unelected) control 75 percent of the country’s budget is democratic in name only. To claim otherwise is pure fantasy.



Spend your own money, Mr. Kennedy

Citizens Energy Corp. President Joseph P. Kennedy II is not all wrong in his Monday letter, “Chavez’s generosity,” and his motivation is pure: to aid low-income Americans with their winter energy needs. The main thrust of his argument, however, is faulty.

In seeking to defend his push for energy assistance to Americans through aid from Venezuela and its dictator, President Hugo Chavez, Mr. Kennedy notes that the United States has made other deals with the devil to satisfy our energy needs, citing Saudi Arabia as a case in point. This point is correct: We shamefully deal with Middle Eastern dictators whose countries gleefully take our money while engaging in human rights abuses and denigrating the United States. Our Middle Eastern oil dependency, which, remarkably, is greater today than it was at the time of the 1970s oil embargo, skews and perverts U.S. foreign policy. By praising “our good friends” in Venezuela in his organization’s television commercials, Mr. Kennedy glorifies Mr. Chavez and permits him the means to humiliate us and to make us dependent on him.

Mr. Chavez has used the United Nations to engage in a vicious attack on our president, referring to him as “the devil.” I am a relentless critic of President Bush on a host of issues, but the broadside attack on him by Mr. Chavez has transformed Mr. Bush into a sympathetic figure. The democracy Mr. Chavez promised his people has devolved into autocratic rule rife with threats and takeovers of private industry.

Would Mr. Kennedy accept oil from North Korea’s Kim Jong-il if he had any to give? Would he have accepted it from Adolf Hitler? Is there any leader whose record of ruthlessness is sufficiently deplorable for Mr. Kennedy to say “no, thanks” to a handout?

If Mr. Kennedy wishes to pursue the noble goal of helping the purported 200,000 low-income Americans with their energy needs, he is welcome to use some of the Kennedy fortune to do so and to raise money from like-minded generous Americans rather than making a hero out of the loathsome Mr. Chavez.

Let us finally work feverishly toward energy independence, but in the meantime, may no patriotic American welcome handouts from an oppressor.


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Clinton shortcomings

Magie Dominic’s response (“Mrs. Clinton’s stellar legislative record,” Letters, Sunday) to my comments about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (“Hillary Clinton is no Margaret Thatcher,” Letters, Feb. 9) ignores what I stated as Mrs. Clinton’s main negatives a lack of integrity and her political philosophy. That is not surprising because defenses of Mrs. Clinton generally blur reality.

n Mrs. Clinton’s stated “accomplishments” mix fact and fiction, crediting intent rather than results, as if activity equals achievement.

n Integrity is not discussed because Mrs. Clinton, by choice, has been part of a team marred by an endless list of corruption. There are indications that more is to come. What were the promises to former national security adviser Sandy Berger? What strings come with the flow of money from Saudi Arabia and from Dubai? Where are Mrs. Clinton’s tax records, and why are her White House records frozen in the archives? The list of questions goes on and on.

n Miss Dominic’s letter paints a sad picture of widespread deprivation, saying that we live in a “time of global, planetary and economic crisis.” How can this be, with the trillions of dollars liberals have spent to “solve” social problems? But wait Mrs. Clinton has “begun to put an end to injustice.” That, more than any other statement, describes the liberal viewpoint. It justifies unlimited revenue to the government, putting ever greater power into the hands of the politicians because their intentions are pure, and we are going to end injustice. What an impossible and dangerous goal.

No one condemns Mrs. Clinton because she understands the inner workings of Washington. We oppose her because of who she is and what she wants to do. The Republicans may well lose the election because they present no strong conservative alternative. Our steady march away from the principles that built this country is a sad enough tale. Returning to the ethics of the Clinton years would be sadder yet.



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