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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2734

Defending Sri Lanka

Embassy Row - Washington Times - 13 July 2007

The ambassador from war-weary Sri Lanka responded to complaints from 50 members of the U.S. Congress, saying his government prosecutes police and soldiers who harm civilians but defended the use of "drastic measures" in its war against Tamil terrorists.

"In an environment such as this, where terrorism constantly stalks innocent civilians, the government has the formidable responsibility to ensure the most vital human right of the people: the right to life," Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke wrote in a letter he released this week.

"In guaranteeing this critical human right, you will appreciate that the law enforcement authorities sometimes have to implement drastic measures, which under conditions of normalcy, would be seen as a violation of civil liberties."

The ambassador addressed his letter to Rep. Rush D. Holt, New Jersey Democrat, who organized the congressional letter, originally sent to President Bush on June 28. Mr. Holt's letter was signed by 44 other Democrats and five Republicans.

They called on Mr. Bush to "increase U.S. diplomatic engagement and high-level political contact" to try to bring peace between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The House members accused both sides of the "widespread abuses of human rights."

Mr. Goonetilleke said his government is responding to repeated rebel violations of a 2002 cease-fire and explained that the Tigers, who pioneered the grisly tactic of suicide bombings, "carried out several thousand terrorist attacks against civilians" since January.

Government troops this week drove the rebels from their last stronghold in the eastern part of the South Asian country, but the Tigers still control the northern tip of the island nation.

The full text of the article is given below:

Defending Sri Lanka

The ambassador from war-weary Sri Lanka responded to complaints from 50 members of the U.S. Congress, saying his government prosecutes police and soldiers who harm civilians but defended the use of "drastic measures" in its war against Tamil terrorists.
"In an environment such as this, where terrorism constantly stalks innocent civilians, the government has the formidable responsibility to ensure the most vital human right of the people: the right to life," Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke wrote in a letter he released this week.

"In guaranteeing this critical human right, you will appreciate that the law enforcement authorities sometimes have to implement drastic measures, which under conditions of normalcy, would be seen as a violation of civil liberties."

The ambassador addressed his letter to Rep. Rush D. Holt,New Jersey Democrat, who organized the congressional letter originally sent to President Bush on June 28. Mr. Holt's letter was signed by 44 other Democrats and five Republicans.

They called on Mr. Bush to "increase U.S. diplomatic engagement and high-level political contact" to try to bring peace between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The House members accused both sides of the "widespread abuses of human rights."

Mr. Goonetilleke said his government is responding to repeated rebel violations of a 2002 cease-fire and explained that the Tigers, who pioneered the grisly tactic of suicide bombings, "carried out several thousand terrorist attacks against civilians" since January.

Government troops this week drove the rebels from their last stronghold in the eastern part of the South Asian country, but the Tigers still control the northern tip of the island nation.

- Asian Tribune -

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