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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2647

Fallen Sri Lankan hero Gen. Parami Kulatunga remembered at U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 13 October (Asiantribune.com): The Memorial Dedication at the US War College in Carlisle in Pennsylvania on October 11 to Sri Lanka’s fallen hero General Parami Kulatunga was attribute to a human being who had crossed the lines of race and nationality to touch the hearts and lives, and it is a deeper bonding of two nations that value freedom, peace and democracy with a common resolve to fight terrorism wherever it exists.The Commandant of the Army War College, Major-General David Huntoon Jr, described  General  Parami Kulatunga. as “a soldier, scholar and statesman with love for country and friends,” “a leader of moral and physical courage with compassion,” who “inspired all he served with..” The Commandant of the Army War College, Major-General David Huntoon Jr, described General Parami Kulatunga. as “a soldier, scholar and statesman with love for country and friends,” “a leader of moral and physical courage with compassion,” who “inspired all he served with..”

A fitting epitaph for Lieutenant General Kulatunga was bestowed on him at this inspiring Memorial Dedication initiated by his colleagues of the Class of 2003 brought overtones of almost tangible sadness and pathos, as memories translated into colorful anecdotes filled with warmth and humor.

Kulatunga, third in command in Sri Lanka’s army, was assassinated when a separatist Tamil Tiger, or otherwise known to the world as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden motorbike onto his car during the morning rush in the suburbs of the country’s capital Colombo, on June 26, 2006.

"The LTTE killed a man who helped to build bridges between the Sinhalese and the Tamils," said Mr. Theodore Smith, who was the community sponsor for the General during his stay at War College, one of the prestigious military academies in the United States.

Having known the decency and innate humanity of the man, Mr. Smith was deeply critical of the separatist Tamil Tigers for "murdering an exceptional officer." He highly commended Sri Lanka for acting with such restraint in the face of such brutal provocation.

Sri Lanka was represented at this Memorial Dedication by the country’s ambassador in Washington Bernard Goonetilleke.

The LTTE has been fighting for a separate state for Tamil ethnic minority in Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern provinces since mid eighties. The Tamil Tigers accused the successive Sri Lanka governments, which they say is largely dominated by ethnic Sinhalese majority, for discriminating against the Tamils which Sri Lankan authorities dismiss despite recognizing that the minority Tamils have outstanding legitimate grievances.

The two sides had several rounds of talks but Tamil Tigers are said to have unilaterally withdrew from all those talks for strategic reasons which the Sri Lankan authorities interpret as to strengthen its fighting capabilities. The fragile 2002 ceasefire agreement between the two sides has been confined to the book, and Sri Lankan authorities have agreed to devolve political and administrative power to the periphery within a united Sri Lanka.The late General Parami Kulatunga’s colleagues of the Class of 2003 at the U.S. Army War College in front of the plaqueThe late General Parami Kulatunga’s colleagues of the Class of 2003 at the U.S. Army War College in front of the plaque

The Rajapaksa administration however says that the LTTE has lost its grip on minority Tamils. Government statistics show that a majority of Tamils are now domiciled in the south among the majority Sinhalese dismissing the LTTE claim that it is the ‘sole representative of the Tamil people.’

The Memorial Dedication for General Parami Kulatunga was held at the War College in light of these developments in Sri Lanka, and sentiments expressed by American officers connected to the United States military critical of the separatist LTTE is considered very significant as the U.S., for many years, trained Sri Lanka’s military under the International Military Education and Training Program, the IMET. Kulatunga attended the Army War College in Pennsylvania under this program.

The Commandant of the Army War College, Major-General David Huntoon Jr, said that the Memorial was being held in honor of the service and sacrifice of General Kulatunga. Describing him as "a soldier, scholar and statesman with love for country and friends," "a leader of moral and physical courage with compassion," who "inspired all he served with," Huntoon appreciated Kulatunga’s lifelong commitment to serve Sri Lanka, his profound understanding of the conflict situation and his "determination to make positive change."

He added the dimension of the global fight against terrorism with his focus on "reaffirming our collaborative resolve and common purpose to defeat terrorists wherever they are."

Colonel Chip Dever, who had known the General closely during the study tour at War College, said General Parami Kulatunga’s sacrifice "is a constant reminder of the sacrifice throughout the history of dedicated soldiers, who put service to the country and the preservation of peace and freedom above all else. Today we stand before you to tell it is soldiers like you that make us proud to serve, and prouder still to say that we knew you well enough to call you a friend."

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in the United States Bernard Goonetilleke, who spoke at the Memorial, gave a historical perspective to General Kulatunga’s assassination by dwelling on the deviousness and deception the LTTE has indulged in since the (2002) ceasefire agreement, and referred to recent LTTE assassinations and near-assassinations in Sri Lanka.

- Asian Tribune -

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