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Tamil self-determination the 'main solution' - Interview with US House Representative Wiley Nickel

Self-determination for the Eelam Tamil people is the “main solution” to the enduring ethnic conflict on the island, said US House Representative Wiley Nickel, after he introduced a historic resolution to the US Congress last week.

Speaking with the Tamil Guardian at his office in Washington D.C., Representative Nickel said the resolution was “an important first step” in leading US action on the island.

“I think this is a very important first step in making our voice heard here in the United States about the situation in Sri Lanka, the persecution of the Tamil community, and the need for self-determination,” said Nickel.

“That's really the main solution here. I think this can be done in a peaceful way.”

The resolution, which was co-sponsored by seven other Congress members from both major parties, 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”.

Nickel, a former Obama staffer, went on to speak on how the resolution was already seeing “very good initial support from members of Congress” and beyond, stating he was “very optimistic about where we're going to be”.

“I had a wonderful meeting with a bipartisan group of Canadian Members of Parliament,” he added. “They were very excited to hear that we're going to be joining their leadership as well.”

Nickel added that recognising the genocide of Tamils was also a key step.

“The data, the evidence is clear,” he said. “President Obama in his autobiography weighed in on the lack of support from the UN in the obvious genocide that was happening in Sri Lanka.”

“I think that's an important first part of this, this whole process, and until that's addressed it's going to be a lot more difficult to get to the bigger issues.”

When asked about support for an independence referendum for Eelam Tamils, Nickel responded by stating “I believe it should happen in Sri Lanka”.

“We need to lead with our values here in the United States,” he said. “The right to self-determination is especially important and you just have to look back at our history to know why it's so important here in the United States.”

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