Friday, April 24, 2009

Clinton Remarks Create Flap: Lankans Stage ‘Token Protest’ in Los Angeles

‘US policy in Sri Lanka a disaster’
By Hassina Leelarthna

(April 24, Los Angeles, CA, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lankans held a ‘token demonstration’ yesterday to lodge their protest at a blistering comment made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accusing Sri Lanka of causing ‘untold suffering’ in the push to eliminate the Tigers.

A handful of protesters, including several Buddhist monks, gathered outside the US Federal Building in Westwood carrying signs that said: “US Has Failed in Sri Lanka” and “Hillary, We are Outraged by You.”

Clinton, appearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on April 21, called the current situation in Sri Lanka ‘a terrible humanitarian tragedy’ and said the US has asked the Sri Lankan government for a ceasefire so ‘we could secure a safe passage for as many of the trapped civilians as possible.’

"I think the Sri Lankan government knows that the entire world is very disappointed, that in its efforts to end what it sees as 25 years of conflict, it is causing such untold suffering,” she said."We have made it clear that as soon as there is some lull in the fighting or an end to the fighting there has to be not only massive humanitarian aid, but a political resolution."

Clinton’s comments touched a raw nerve in the community where anger has been simmering ever since the US Senate Foreign Relation Committee’s hearing on Sri Lanka in February , widely viewed as a one-sided affair deliberately set up to paint a dire picture of Colombo’s handling of the situation in the Wanni.

That hearing which turned out to be a litany of criticisms and misinformation of the humanitarian situation did not include any Sri Lankan government representation. Diaspora attempts to present the ‘Sri Lankan side’ by way of emails and faxes to the subcommittee went unacknowledged, although, adding fuel to fire, the submission of Bruce Fein, an attorney representing LTTE interests, was accepted. Fein, currently being retained by ‘Tamils Against Genocide,’ an LTTE front group, is the
quintessential hired legal gun. Having failed in 2006 in his bid to have his one-man consulting firm ‘The Lichfield Group’ retained by the Sri Lankan government to ‘ target key leaders those who support Sri Lanka’s democracy and deplore the Tamils’ terrorism to spearhead a congressional advocacy campaign’ and to conduct a ‘focused media blitz’ against the Tigers, he turned to the LTTE and found a gold mine. After a brief honeymoon with ‘Tamils for Justice,’ he disappeared for a short while, allegedly with the donation box, then reappeared as counsel for an opposing LTTE front, ‘Tamils Against Genocide.’ He is currently on a mission to have several Sri Lankan leaders tried for ‘genocide.’

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