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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2248

Newly Elected US Congresswoman from Nevada Dina Titus Establishes her Writ in Democratic Congressional Caucus

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Las Vegas, Nevada. 28 November ( Sri Lankan expatriates in the State of Nevada who opened a dialogue with Nevada university political science professor Dina Titus who was running for US Congress on the Democratic Party ticket from this state in presenting Sri Lanka’s ongoing military offensive against Tamil Tiger terrorists to safeguard her territorial integrity, sovereignty and democracy achieved two major breakthroughs.Professor Dina TitusProfessor Dina Titus

Professor Titus who declared at the September dialogue with the Sri Lankan community that, referring to Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, “once you recognize an organization as a terrorist organization it should be treated as a terrorist organization and that such an organization cannot be brought to the negotiating table”, was elected to the US Congress to represent the State of Nevada at the November 4 general election.

On November 17 Congresswoman-elect Dina Titus was elected the Democratic Party Whip for Region Five which covers eight western states which gives an opening for the Nevada Sri Lankan expatriate activists and political operatives to reach to other US Congressmen in the western states to extend the Sri Lanka message about her struggle against Tamil Tiger terrorism.

At the Democratic Party Congressional caucus convened on November 17 in Washington the newly elected congresswoman Titus was elected the Whip for the Democratic Congressmen representing these eight western states, a senior coordinating position normally that goes to a senior lawmaker.

In announcing her appointment Congresswoman-elect Dina Titus sent the following note to this writer who was one of the Sri Lankan expatriates participated at the September gathering that explained the Sri Lanka situation:

A short Note :

A short note to share with you some important news. Yesterday evening, my colleagues elected me as one of two Democratic Whips from Region 5. As Regional Whip for the 111th Congress, I'll be working closely with Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina to build consensus for the Democratic agenda and pass legislation in the House of Representatives. The Democratic Caucus is divided into 12 regions. Region 5 is comprised of members from Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

This is good news for Nevada and a testament to the hard work and strength of our campaign together. As a Regional Whip, I'll have the opportunity to work directly with Members of Congress across the Western US - making sure that the unique needs of our communities are addressed.

I've hit the ground running, and I know with your continued help we will strengthen Nevada's voice in Washington, in order to aid our economic recovery and help restore our leadership in the world.

The work ahead is enormous, but together with all of our friends and supporters I know we are ready to meet the challenge.

Congresswoman-elect Dina Titus

She was elected a U.S. Congresswoman from Nevada in the November 4 general election on the Democratic ticket and enters the portals of the Capitol Hill in Washington with a substantial understanding of the issues Sri Lanka currently face in this South Asian nation’s endeavor to defeat Tamil Tiger terrorism and restore human and democratic rights to a section of a captive minority Tamil population in LTTE-controlled areas in the north.

As Professor Titus told the Sri Lanka expatriate gathering in September that once she is in the U.S. Congress, she will not allow some lobbyist to approach her and tell about the issues confronting Sri Lanka; "I will turn to you for advice and counseling and I will come back to you to get help on issues confronting Sri Lanka," she said. "I have been in the State Legislature for twenty years and I know how the politicians work and the legislature works. I tried to do some reading about the situation in Sri Lanka and Tamil Tigers, and I am aware that the Tamil Tigers have been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the United States government."

The political agenda the Sri Lankan expatriates in Southern Nevada was to win the heart and mind of a potential congresswoman on a vital issue that Sri Lanka faced; Tamil Tiger terrorism that threatened the territorial integrity, sovereignty and the democracy and the manner in which the Sri Lanka administration headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa endeavors to strike a balance between national security and safeguarding human rights.

The Sri Lankans knew these were the two vital issues that need to be explained to Prof. Dina Titus, two issues which have been misinterpreted by the LTTE lobby in the West especially in the United States.

And, that lobby is now out of bounds in Congresswoman’s chamber in Washington for the LTTE when she takes oath of office in January 2009.

With the election of Dina Titus the Sri Lankan expatriates in the State of Nevada are sure to grab the opportunity to extend their message to other Democratic Congressmen in the eight Western States to which Ms. Titus has been appointed by her Democratic Caucus in US Congress as the Whip who will have easy access to the Majority Whip James Clyburn who is the third ranking leader of the Democratic Party’s Congressional delegation in the Capitol Hill.

The gathering in early September that proved to have gained opening to have access to many US Congressmen through Dina Titus to establish a public diplomacy campaign to explain Sri Lankan’s battle against Tamil Tiger terrorism was organized by Sri Lankan political activist Sanje Sedera who chairs the Asian American Democratic Caucus in Las Vegas, a chartered organization by the State of Nevada Democratic Party, and Douglas Perera, a well known Sri Lankan social worker who is the deputy chairman of Sri Lanka America Association of Nevada. This writer was the other in that triumvirate.

Sedera, now a known Democratic Party activist and a proven leader in assembling expertise for political organizational work and recognizing talents for forward and upward movement of political campaigns worked hard to get a sound footing among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Dina Titus’ congressional candidacy and other several state-wide contests. As the head of the Asian American Democratic Caucus of Southern Nevada and as a Sri Lankan American Sanje Sedera provided briefing material to Dina Titus on Sri Lanka’s war on terrorism to defeat Tamil Tigers.

Douglas Perera who has wide acceptance among the Sri Lankan residents in Southern Nevada and one of the Sri Lankan social activists in Las Vegas who was instrumental in launching an ambitious US $ 40,000 ‘Tsunami Project’ in 2006/07 undertaken by the Sri Lanka association to rehabilitate a school in the Southern District of Galle in Sri Lanka is almost the epicenter of Sri Lankan social and political work in Las Vegas. No Sri Lankan parliamentarian, cabinet minister, invester/bussinesmen or entertainer passing through the western states of the U.S. will miss Perera’s hospitality at his Las Vegas residence. And the high issue in those conversations is how to improve Sri Lanka’s image among lawmakers, state or national, in his adopted country. In early September, Congressional candidate Dina Titus found her way to Perera’s residence for the milestone and far-reaching briefing about Sri Lanka.

This writer as the key note briefer brought to the attention of Dr. Titus that the grand design of the Tamil Tigers for decades to get the international attention was to project their struggle as a liberation struggle to redress the grievances of the minority ethnic Tamils by successfully combining the Tamil Tiger terrorism and Tamil minority grievances. The writer said that no Sri Lankan government in the past endeavored to separate the two, or separate facts from fiction, until the advent of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the elected Executive President in November 2005 who has unleashed a military offensive to defeat Tiger terrorism and address grievances of all communities with a special emphasis on Tamil issues. He reminded the U.S. Congressional candidate that the United States did not call for a truce or secession of hostilities with al Qaeda and those terrorists should be treated like terrorists.

It is in response to this writer’s comments US Congressional candidate told the September gathering that a terrorist organization should be treated like a terrorist entity and such organizations cannot be brought to the negotiating table which the Sri Lankan community here now consider that as a significant statement in the light of her electoral victory to enter the US Congress next January.

And, her election as the Whip for the Region Five which consist of eight western states to coordinate US Congressional work for the Democratic Party in close association with the US Democratic Party leadership has given the Sri Lankan expatriates in the State of Nevada an unprecedented opening to reach out to many more congressmen to place Sri Lanka issue before them, a public diplomacy breakthrough for Sri Lanka.

Professor Dina Titus declared: "I am also aware that the USG has frozen assets of a so called charitable organization operating in the U.S. which has been revealed a functioning front organization of the Tamil Tigers. “The United States has a strong and close relationship with Sri Lanka; we gave a lot of aid and assistance after the 2004 Tsunami. And the U.S. has supported Sri Lanka through USAID for her economic development. "And I do understand the difference between a terrorist organization and a nationalist organization. And I also understand the difference between a terrorist organization and agitation for the redress of minority grievances. "They are not the same. Once you recognize an organization as a terrorist organization it should be treated as a terrorist organization, not as another organization that can be brought to the table."

"And, I understand that the Government of Sri Lanka had extended that hand to the Tamil Tigers and invited them to the negotiating table to work things out but the Tamil Tigers has not shown its sincerity, sometime they don’t show up or withdraw abruptly," concluded Dina Titus showing full well that she understood the situation in Sri Lanka noting at the beginning that, once in the U.S. Congress, no Tamil Tiger lobbyist could approach her to confuse her mind.

What was comprehended by the erudite political science professor was what this writer reminded in his briefing that 54% of the 12% minority ethnic Tamils are out of the despotic clutches of the Tamil Tigers living in other predominantly Sinhalese majority districts and provinces. He said after a lapse of fourteen years, the government held democratic elections in the Eastern Province, which consist 68% of minority ethnic Tamils, after militarily defeating the Tamil Tigers handing over governing responsibility to the local people restoring their basic human rights all these years denied by the Tamil Tigers who controlled a vast area of the province. Now the government forces are in a battle to defeat the Tigers in a cluster of areas they control in the Northern Province, he said.

There is a consensus among the Sri Lankan expatriates in Nevada that once the new Congress opens in January there should be a concerted effort to reach US Congressmen who represent the eight western states through Congresswoman Dina Titus to open a public diplomacy dialogue about issues faced by Sri Lanka and her relations with the United States on areas connected to foreign assistance.

- Asian Tribune -

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