American Ambassador Speaks about the Sri Lankan Ethnic Conflict (Civil War)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 20091 (ID. 2001-04-02)
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On March 7, 2001, American Ambassador to Sri Lanka, E.Ashley Will, told a primarily Tamil audience at the Jaffna Public Library that America is against an independent Tamil Eelam and that Tamil people must be treated equally, respectfully and with dignity within a democratic Sri Lanka.

That is the problem; Tamil people are not treated equally, respectfully and with dignity within Sri Lanka. If the Sinhala majority and the Sri Lankan government treat all the people living in the island equally, irrespective of their race or religion, there would be no demand for an independent homeland (Tamil Eelam) for the Tamil minority. But that is not the case; all the races and religions there are not treated equally by the government. Even the newly proposed constitution that is tooted as fair and just by the Sri Lankan President Mrs. Kumaratunga, enshrines a special status for the Buddhist religion that is practiced by the vast majority of Sinhalese and none of the Tamil minority. Does this not relegate the Tamil minority, who are mostly Hindus with a sizable number of Muslims and Christians and, nay, a Buddhist, to a second-class status in relation to the Sinhala Buddhists? (Sinhalese are mostly Buddhists with a small percentage of Muslims and Hindus.)

Let the Sri Lankan Government and the Sinhala majority show their commitment to a united Sri Lanka where everyone, irrespective of religion or race, is equal, by removing the special status afforded to Buddhism in the proposed constitution. Then the Tamil people will realize that the Sri Lankan Government and the Sinhala majority are sincere and will drop their demand for an independent homeland where they can live in peace as first class citizens. 

I request the Ambassador to use the considerable influence United States of America (USA) has with Sri Lanka and in the international forums to convince the Sri Lankan Government to drop the special status given to Buddhism in the proposed constitution. If the Sri Lankan Government refuses to do so, may I request the American Government to recognize the legitimacy of the independence struggle of the Tamil people!

All we want is equality; but if not equality, then, independence.

[Summary: Discussion of American Ambassador E. Ashley Will's statement on the Sinhala - Tamil ethnic conflict and civil war in Sri Lanka (2001).]


Sri Lankan Devolution Package Speaks Loud and Clear that Sinhalese are the Masters of the Island (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, September 2000.

Dichotomy of Sri Lankan Foreign Policy (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2001 (15 KB)

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