U.S. Senate Resolution: Sri Lanka’s Rare Display of Public Diplomacy

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune US National Correspondent
Washington, D.C. 08 March (Asiantribune.com):

At a time Sri Lanka is battling the rise of ‘Global Diplomatic Insurgency’, well replenished by the former acolytes of Prabhaharan’s terror-separatist group LTTE who are now covertly and overtly advocating a bifurcation of Sri Lanka within the Tamil Diaspora, Sri Lanka has displayed a rare public diplomacy victory in engaging in a fruitful dialogue with a group of U.S. Senators to move a resolution to bring the U.S. and Sri Lanka to the same page on ‘national issues’ concerning this South Asian nation.

The significance is that the Senate Republican Resolution moved and tabled on 27 February urges the Obama White House to recognize Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and maintain relations to safeguard it. The movers of the resolution expect the State Department to take note of what they have written in it.

The great Latin American revolutionary and Cuba’s most famous thinker Jose Marti in 1894 said: “Seeing afterwards is worthless. Foreseeing is what really counts…and being ready”.

The evidence is that the handlers of Sri Lanka’s external affairs and its Washington diplomatic facility seem to have done just that, to the delight of this Online Newspaper which has been advocating to use public affairs, public diplomacy and strategic communication in a more effective manner to ‘explain Sri Lanka’ to the rest of the world who have succumbed to misinformation, misrepresentation, half-truths and diabolical falsehood to haul the country all way to Geneva.

Unlike previous Senate Resolutions, one of which was on 6 February this year three weeks before the current one, Resolution 364 advocates a domestic mechanism rather than an international mechanism to ascertain the nature of the execution of the war during the final months in 2009.

Sri Lanka’s Washington diplomatic post moved forward in securing this language in the resolution, a rare triumph to this South Asian nation which has been battling the ‘Giants’ in the international community to safeguard her image in the globe.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Washington Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya has thanked the U.S. Senators who introduced Senate Resolution 364 recognizing Sri Lanka’s success in restoration of democracy , rebuilding and reconciliation after the dawn of peace since 2009.

In a letter addressed to the Senators, the Ambassador called the resolution a very a positive gesture of goodwill and understanding towards Sri Lanka from these senior representatives of the American people. He underscored the facts enumerated in the Resolution such as the continued peace in the entire country , restoration of democracy and the concrete steps taken towards reconciliation that represent the true situation in Sri Lanka.

” I wanted to express my gratitude to you for co-sponsoring Senate Resolution 364. This resolution is a fair and balanced and one that reflects the actual progress made by the Government of Sri Lanka”, Ambassador Wickramasuriya said in the letter.

The Ambassador is also of the view that adopting such a positive resolution on Sri Lanka by US Senators would certainly be seen in Sri Lanka as moral encouragement to continue the process of healing and reconciliation.

“I am appreciative that this resolution acknowledges the establishment of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and the multitude of categories it addresses. This resolution is a historically significant piece of legislation that I believe will enhance the US – Sri Lanka relationship’.

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya also thanks all Sri Lankan-Americans who have been tirelessly working to keep their legislators informed about the true story on Sri Lanka. He opines the Senate Resolution 364 is clear evidence that their endeavors have been successful.

Further, Ambassador Wickramasuriya requests the Sri Lankan community to continue updating their political representatives in the U.S. on the current positive developments in Sri Lanka and encourage them to visit the country and see the progress for themselves.

The Resolution Calls on President Obama to adopt balanced & comprehensive policy towards Sri Lanka.

Eleven senior Members of the United States Senate introduced a bipartisan Senate Resolution (S. Res. 364) on Thursday, Feb 27 expressing support for Sri Lanka’s internal reconciliation process and the significant overall progress the Country has made since the end of the civil war–some 5 years ago.

The Senators also called on the President of the United States to develop a “comprehensive and well balanced policy towards Sri Lanka”, supportive of promoting U.S. interests including respect for human rights, democracy the rule of law as well as taking onto account the United States economic and security interests.

Senate Resolution 364 recognizes the immense suffering of the Sri Lankan people caused by the 26-year conflict, and the genuine aspiration of the government to prevent any outside force from triggering a reemergence of similar situations that are now behind us; but instead look to the future through enhanced national unity and reconciliation . A special recognition has been given to the establishment of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and the significance of implementing its recommendations.

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed the LLRC in May 2010, following the end of the three decade long terrorist conflict. The Commission Report was released in November 2011 and tabled in the Parliament in December 2011. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the National Plan of Action to implement the recommendations of the LLRC in July 2012.

Senate Resolution 364 underscores that the Government of Sri Lanka has made significant progress in implementing the LLRC recommendations within a limited time. With a special reference to the first ever elections held in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka in September 2013, the Resolution commends the reestablishment of representative democracy in the conflict-ridden areas through elections.

“ …the elections allowed the people of the North of Sri Lanka to exercise their political rights that had been withheld from them for more than 20 years by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and resulted in a clear victory for the provincial wing of the Tamil National Alliance”

The Resolution however remains concerned over possible restrictions to the media freedom and religious freedom of Sri Lanka. It highlights that a peaceful and just society reconciled through a political settlement addressing the needs of all ethnic group should be achieved by a process driven by the people of Sri Lanka themselves.

The Resolution calls on the United States Government and the International community to offer meaningful assistance to the Government of Sri Lanka to make its domestic endeavors toward reconciliation more effective, while respecting the country’s sovereignty, stability and security.

The Resolution encourages Sri Lanka to consider a mechanism similar to the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission to heal the wounds of war. The Government of Sri Lanka is further urged to take necessary steps to improve religious and media freedom in the country.

The Asian Tribune considers this a very positive development toward Sri Lanka undertaken by Washington’s Sri Lanka diplomatic mission and to the delight of this Online Daily Newspaper which has continually advocated the adoption of a sharp diplomatic reach to negate the maneuvers of activists/professionals within the Tamil Diaspora who were once supplying ‘Material Support’ to the lethal terrorist movement Tamil Tigers in the form of raising funds, providing expert advice, propagating the LTTE agenda and promoting the procurement of military weapons all of which were in violating United Stated Federal Laws.

– Asian Tribune –

The U.S. Capitol Building which houses the Senate and House
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