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Sri Lankan official says US Congress ‘bought’ and requests ban on more Tamil diaspora groups

A senior Sri Lankan official told reporters in Colombo that several US Congress members have been “bought over with money” by the Tamil diaspora and called for an extension of a ban on several US-based groups.

Sarath Weerasekera, the Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security and former Public Security Minister told reporters in Colombo that members of Congress had been “bought” after a resolution was introduced calling for self-determination for Eelam Tamils and a democratic independence referendum.

“Even though we defeated one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world, that several countries around the world had proscribed, we can see that the American government is partnering with them to give their cause legitimacy,” he said.

“There are three LTTE fronts in the US; the Tamil Americans United Political Action Committee, PEARL - People for Equality and Relief in Lanka and Federation of Global Tamils,” he continued. “They are breakaway groups from the LTTE. I have asked that these three organizations be banned in Sri Lanka.”

Reading out the resolution introduced in US Congress, which includes recognising the genocide committed by the Sri Lankan state, Weerasekera said that these proposals show how “far congressmen have been bought over by money”.

“This is a dangerous issue,” he said calling on his government to take steps to combat it. “We are totally against such moves.”

Commenting further on the sanctioning of individuals by several countries, Weerasekera questioned if denying a visa is how countries around the world wish to show their support to Sri Lanka.

“The LTTE is an organization that many countries have proscribed has been defeated by us, so is this how the international community supports our efforts, by denying us visas?” he asked. “It is wrong. It goes all efforts to defeat terrorism.”

Weerasekera also went on to claim that the Geneva Convention adding that Protocol III does not empower countries to impose sanctions and deny visas to individuals. “The protocol does not make provisions for individuals who waged wars to be charged with crimes,” he said. “We should ask the UNHRC if they are flouting the regulations which they must abide by.”

The resolution, which was introduced into US Congress last month, was brought as Tamils around the world prepared to mark 15 years since the Mullivaikkal genocide.

The resolution calls for the “nonrecurrence of past violence, including the Tamil Genocide, by supporting the right to self-determination of Eelam Tamil people and their call for an independence referendum for a lasting peaceful resolution”.

It goes on to detail historic Tamil support for independence and how “similar conflicts have successfully been democratically, peacefully, and legally resolved by exercising the right to self-determination by the people in countries such as South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo via independence referendums with support from the United States and other countries”.

 

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