U.S. Says Tamils Being Discriminated
By Easwaran Rutnam
The United States says Tamils in the north are being discriminated and has called on the government to incorporate the Tamil population into the lifeblood of Sri Lanka.
At a live video online chat with journalists from around the world including Sri Lankans on Thursday night, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner said that as far as the U.S is concerned there is a big unfinished agenda in Sri Lanka.
“We are going to continue to raise those issues with the government,” Posner said in response to a question raised by a Sri Lankan journalist.
The online discussion was mainly focused on the U.S State Department’s annual global human rights report released recently.
Posner recalled the discussions he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had with External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris in Washington recently.
He said that a range of issues were discussed including issues which continue to be of concern and the U.S government will continue to push on those issues.
“We are happy that there is a Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission but the government has to have an action plan that deals with reconciliation issues, deals with the issues of discrimination still going on in the north and a range of other things to incorporate the Tamil population into the lifeblood of Sri Lanka,” he said.
He also said that the U.S has not singled out Sri Lanka and that U.S will apply the same standard under the universal declaration to Sri Lanka as is applied with other countries.
Posner meanwhile rejected the characterization that the US has become an arbitrator to human rights around the world.
Asked if the human rights report can be used as a tool to take action against Sri Lanka or any other country, Posner said that the purpose of the report is to give the US a baseline of information on what’s going on in every country in the world.
“Every country is evaluated by the same set of standards or criteria. It gives us a basis for making policy but it’s not a policy making document. It’s a tool for diplomats on how to deal with a country,” he said.
On Sri Lanka the human rights report had noted that abductions were taking place in Jaffna and residents blamed the security forces or members of the EPDP.
Some disappearances appeared to be politically motivated, targeting civil society activists and persons believed to be LTTE sympathizers, the report had said.