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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2674

US State Department’s Don Camp in Sri Lanka to “Review Bilateral Relations”

Daya Gamage – U.S. Bureau of Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 16 May (Asiantribune.com): The U.S. State Department’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald A. Camp is now in Sri Lanka to have talks with the government and others amidst a deteriorating political situation caused by the confrontation between Sri Lanka government military forces and the separatist Tamil Tigers, the LTTE, jeopardizing the 2002-signed ceasefire between the two warring factions.

Among other issues, Camp is expected to “review the state of bilateral relations” between the United States and Sri Lanka, according to American embassy press release.

It is high time that the two countries went into this issue of “reviewing bilateral relations” in the light of separatist Tigers military campaign, assassination attempts and attacks on government Army posts and navel force with impunity totally disregarding the calls of the international community, Co-Chairs and the United States.

It is also important for Sri Lanka to get a serious clarification from Mr. Camp as to what the United States position in regard to terrorism in Sri Lanka which is not linked to global terrorism.

The visiting State Department official needs to let the Government of Sri Lanka know where it stands in U.S. “War on Terrorism”, and whether the United States consider the “disturbance” in Sri Lanka as ‘terrorism’ or ‘politically motivated’ violence.

According to May 11, 2006 testimony of Russell E. Travers of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) before the House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on International Terrorism, the United States divides terrorism into two categories, “International Terrorism” involving citizens or territories of more than one country, and “Terrorism”, which the NCTC describe as ‘premeditated politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.’

The annual Country Report on Terrorism released by the State Department on April 28, 2006 noted in its Sri Lanka section that “the LTTE has not targeted the U.S. citizens or assets, limiting attacks to Sri Lankan security forces, political figures, civilians, and businesses.”

So, the LTTE is not a threat to United States interests, political, economic or military, and it has, so far, not been a threat to the lives and limbs of American citizens.

Nevertheless, Donald Camp, before the US Congressional Sub Committee on Asia and Pacific in March this year, testified that the United States considers the LTTE as a terrorist organization and unless it renounced violence it will remain in US list of Foreign Terrorist Organization.

But all these assurances have not restrained the Tamil Tigers, and they have continued with their military adventure totally disregarding the U.S. position. Mr. Camp needs to give his interpretation to this development and what the country he represent intends doing to assure Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity and sovereignty to protect it democratic structure.

Or, does the United States consider the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a “legitimate guerrilla organization” waging a legitimate struggle as US Congressman Brad Sherman, the senior member of the US Congressional Sub Committee on Asia and Pacific, asked Mr. Camp at its March hearings?

Does the United States consider the battle between the Government of Sri Lanka, which Donald Camp’s State Department Web Site not so far ago described it as the “Sinhalese-dominated”, and the LTTE, which the same Web Site described as leading a struggle to redress Tamil grievances, an “ethnic war”? Or a war waged to destabilize a democratic nation? Where does this “disturbance” in Sri Lanka fit into the US “War on Global Terrorism.”? Sri Lanka needs to have some answers from Donald Camp.

Mr. Camp is no stranger to Sri Lanka. He was once a political officer in the Colombo’s American Embassy, and was a member of the National Security Council covering South Asian affairs.

Donald Camp, as the representative of the United States government, needs to put all his cards before the Government of Sri Lanka without beating around the bush and state whether Sri Lanka is dealing with terrorism or an ethnic war, and whether the United States consider this “20-year disturbance” as a development of an “ethnic strife”, a “politically motivated violence” or “plain terrorism” to destabilize a democratic nation. At a time the Bush administration is “promoting democracy overseas”, Mr. Camp should give an assurance to the Mahinda Rajapakse administration whether the United States would stand by his government and help his government to militarily wipeout the LTTE to safeguard a democracy that has been in existence for six decades on the one hand, and that the United States considers LTTE terrorism” and “legitimate Tamil grievances” as two distinct issues.

Asian Tribune

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