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TNA and GTF call for ‘proactive’ US role on Tamil political rights and Sri Lanka

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Global Tamil Forum (GTF) have called on the US government to take on a “proactive” role on Sri Lanka and on “addressing the root cause of conflict and human rights violations, the denial of political rights to the Tamil people,” according to a press statement released after a series of meetings in Washington and New York.

According to the press release from the GTF, a delegation of Tamils held a series of “significant engagements” with senior US officials last week.

“The particular focus of the current engagement was to call for a proactive USG role in promoting a holistic approach to reconciliation, which would include addressing the root cause of conflict and human rights violations, the denial of political rights to the Tamil people,” said the GTF.

“The Delegation emphasised that addressing the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace, dignity, and meaningful power devolution is critical in guaranteeing non-recurrence.”

Earlier this week the US State Department tweeted that “the US joins Sri Lankan Tamil people in search for lasting peace & full voice in deciding their country’s future,” alongside photographs of one of the meetings.

One of the many meetings the delegation held was with Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, who reportedly “underscore[d] human rights are central to US foreign policy in Sri Lanka,” according to the State Department.

“The present conditions in Sri Lanka and its trajectory towards authoritarianism and militarised governance; further marginalisation of Tamil, Muslim, Hindu, and Christian communities; the serious economic difficulties faced by the people; and the vulnerability of the country for external manipulations – were also highlighted to the US,” continued the GTF.

“The challenges faced by the Tamil community on a daily basis to protect their land and preserve their identity in the Tamil majority Northern and Eastern Provinces against rampant militarisation and state sponsored initiatives aimed at altering regional demography was discussed. Details of some of the recent land appropriation measures by the government of Sri Lanka were presented and the urgency to counter such measures with international assistance was sought.”

“The opportunities and challenges for changing the present conditions in Sri Lanka was highlighted and the transformative role that the USG could play, in alignment with India at this critical juncture was underscored,” the statement concluded.

See the full text of the statement and a list of some of the officials the delegation met with here.

The meetings come almost a year into Joe Biden’s US presidency. His tenure has so far seen several key appointments to senior foreign policy roles, including many who are familiar with Sri Lanka.

Read more on the new Biden administration in our features:

Antony Blinken and Sri Lanka – A look at the new US Secretary of State

Samantha Power, Sri Lanka and another opportunity

Wendy Sherman - A familiar face tipped for US Deputy Secretary of State

Victoria Nuland on Sri Lanka, accountability and justice

Also see:

What does a Biden-Harris victory mean for Sri Lanka?

Editorial - Righting wrongs

Last month, the United States also announced it would be returning to the UN Human Rights Council in January 2022, a body where several resolutions on accountability in Sri Lanka have been passed.

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