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Reinforcing Recent Comments by Sec. Blake, US Senate Passes Resolution Calling for Greater US Participation in Sri Lankan Peace Process

Published On Friday, March 04, 2011
On March 1st, Senate Resolution 84, sponsored by Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) and cosponsored by 11 other Senators, was passed unanimously by the Senate. The action came after nearly two years of repeated calls by human rights organizations for the US to step up its role in the unpromising Sri Lankan peace and accountability process. Tamil America Peace Initiative (TAPI) applauds the passage of this resolution and believes the momentum created this week towards higher US engagement in Sri Lanka is a critical step towards the establishment of a credible and lasting peace process. The resolution:

1) Commends United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for creating the three-person panel to advise the Secretary-General on the implementation of the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to human rights accountability;

2) Calls on the Government of Sri Lanka, the international community, and the United Nations to establish an independent international accountability mechanism to look into reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations committed by both sides during and after the war in Sri Lanka and to make recommendations regarding accountability;

3) Calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to allow humanitarian organizations, aid agencies, journalists, and international human rights groups greater freedom of movement, including in internally-displaced persons camps; and

4) Calls upon the President to develop a comprehensive policy towards Sri Lanka that reflects United States interests, including respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, economic interests, and security interests.

Just one day before the Senate’s action, Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake sent a similar message on Monday, February 28th when speaking to reporters. With unprecedented candor, he said if Sri Lanka is not willing to meet international accountability standards during its reconciliation process, the United States would support the appointment of an international commission to achieve real justice.

“I don’t think you can sweep it under the carpet,” Blake said when asked about the importance of holding perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity accountable. The Sri Lankan government is led by officials suspected of committing human rights violations and war crimes, and many experts say it is unlikely that the government would impartially investigate the war.

S.Res.84 was cosponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC) Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Robert Menéndez (D-NJ) and Tom Udall (D-NM).
About TAPI
The Tamil American Peace Initiative was formed by a group of Tamil Americans to help bring lasting peace, justice, democracy, good governance and economic development to Sri Lanka; to focus attention on the destruction of Tamil communities and culture caused by almost three decades of war; and to demand an end to the continuing oppression of Tamils on the island.

Contact T. Kopper at info@tamilamerican.org or +1.202.879.9384 for additional information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham.
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