Monday, February 23, 2009

US Senate Hearing on Sri Lanka. Appeal from an interested Reader

Friends,

I am sending this e-mail after taking action in response to a forwarded e-mail I received. Even if you are unable to do the needful before the hearing, you may still send a letter to the member senators at your earliest as our opinions do matter to our representatives.

As you may (or not) know, there is a hearing on Tuesday, Feb 24th at 2.30 pm by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on recent developments in Sri Lanka. The committee is chaired by senator John
Kerry. There are 3 witnesses -- Anna Neistat (human rights watch), Bob Dietz (Committee to protect journalists), and Jeff Lunstead(former US ambassador to SL).

From what we see/hear, LTTE supporters are trying everything known to mankind to stop the 'humanitarian mission' to liberate Tamil civilians from Tigers. Out of the three witnesses above, the first two are not likely to give a positive picture of Sri Lanka if you go by their past record. So, it's up to us to let the members know what we know already.


You can find details at:
http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2009/hrg090224p.html

Once you are in this site, there is a link called Membership & More that will take you to each member's website. All of them have an e-mail address or a contact-us page where you can send them a letter or an e-mail. I took some time last night to write my thoughts and sent it to all 18 of these senators (one letter but separate copies addressed to each of them and sent it to the address found in the 'Contact Information' link).

The guidelines they suggest when writing to them (as per their websites) are as follows:

1. Keep it short and do not write more than a page (if you were to print it).

2. Write your real name and address and sign the letter (anonymous letters are routinely discarded).

3. Start by indicating what you are writing about.

4. State each of your concerns in paragraphs.

5. End the letter by urging some action (what you would like them to do about the issue).

Here are some points that I elaborated in my letter (ok, I must confess that I ended up with two pages though :)

1. Introduce yourself as a Sri Lankan American who visit Sri Lanka frequently due to family ties. (business/leisure/ ... whatever that applies to you) and as someone very concerned about the situation of
your country of origin.

2. Express your appreciation for the concern they show towards Sri Lanka by holding the hearing.

3. Let them know that Sri Lanka's war on terror is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after thirty years. The separatist terrorist group LTTE is now cornered and holding thousands of civilians as a human shield against their will. Mention that if Sri Lanka succeeds in routing out terrorism, it will be a very rare achievement for any secular democracy.

4. Mention that the LTTE is one of world's deadliest terrorist groups as classified by the FBI and much other western law enforcement agencies. They are fighting to carve out a mono-ethnic separate country in the island by attempting to suicide bomb the country in to submission. They have a support network of dedicated individuals who mostly live in the west who also subscribe to the separatist project of the LTTE.

5. The separatist financiers are now seeing their millions of dollars worth of investment in the terrorist campaign go up in smoke. Their arms procurement and money laundering networks have been disrupted by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

6. Consequently, much of their money and efforts have now been diverted to lobbying western governments and non-governmental organizations to pressure Sri Lanka to abandoning its war on terror. Let the senator know that this will provide the terrorists a lifeline they badly need at this time. The terrorist support network's motivation for discrediting Sri Lanka is simple revenge to avenge recent battleground losses.

7. Let the senator know that this will provide the terrorists a lifeline they badly need at this time. The terrorist support network's motivation for discrediting Sri Lanka is simple revenge to avenge recent battleground losses

8. . Mention that the tactics used in their lobbying include misinformation campaigns about Sri Lanka targeted at international press, false accusations of Human rights violations and genocide by Sri Lanka, mass protests in western capitals, and mass letter writing campaigns. It's easy to mobilize a large number of people for these actions as quite a few of them have pending asylum applications in western countries that will be rejected if there is peace in Sri Lanka.

9. Let the senator know that you have not seen any organized human rights violations by the government during any of your visits or in talking to your folks back home. Also, mention the fact that most Tamils live among the Sinhalese majority in the south of the country. This is further evidenced by the fact that civilians caught up in the conflict routinely cross over to the government side risking their lives. Could this happen if there was genocide being practiced by the government?

10. Urge the senators to stand by Sri Lanka on her hour of need as Sri Lanka has stood by the U.S. for over half a century as a consistent ally. Ask them to help Sri Lanka liberate the remaining civilians used as a human shield by the LTTE.

Please forward as appropriate, as time is of essence.

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