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Monday 08 April 1996
Hot News Section

Minister thanks expats for massive petition

INDUSTRIAL Development Minister C. V. Gooneratne, in a letter to Kenneth Abeywickrama of the USA, said that he was glad that 9046 US citizens and residents had sought increased US action against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorism, which had killed 36,000 civilians.

The ``Daily News'', in an article published in it's April 1 issue, said that the US State Department, had assured the Sri Lankan expatriate community, that it will seek the prosecution of any illegal activity by pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) groups in the USA.

It went on to say, that the assurance was given by the State Department's Director in charge of the India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives desk, Steven R. Mann, to a Sri Lankan delegation, led by Kenneth Abeywickrama, who had handed over a petition signed by 9,046 US citizens and residents, seeking increased US Government action against LTTE terrorism.

Gooneratne in his letter said that the Department's, ``most heartening assurance is that it would seek the prosecution of any illegal activity, by pro-LTTE groups there. This great pronouncement, comes close to the heels of similar actions, which the governments of the European Union, and later Malaysia, had committed themselves to''.

The actions of these friendly governments to curb terrorism would at long last unite all countries, that value peace and eschew violence, murder and mayhem, he had further stated in his letter. At the same time the actions taken by these friendly governments, will give rise to a true brotherhood of nations, translating into positive action, the well intentioned words, contained in many declarations, to which we have all been signatories, vouching to put an end to disaster, and utmost cruelty, perpetrated by forces of narco-terrorism, he said.

The Minister further says: ``I referred to the actions of these friendly governments, in glowing terms during my recent speeches in Parliament. I called for the disbanding of LTTE offices abroad, and that legal action be taken by all peace loving citizens of the world, against the LTTE's most inhuman crimes''.

Gooneratne said that peace was offered to the LTTE from the day President Chandrika Kumaratunga took office. But the LTTE spurned these offers by springing upon the Government, a surprise attack, which was on a lesser scale, comparable to the December 1941, Pearl Harbour attack.

The letter goes on to say that Foreign Affairs Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, though a member of the minority community, on whose behalf the LTTE practises terrorism, had given the lie to the LTTE's campaign of calumny, against the majority Sinhala community. Kadirgamar, addressing Parliament on August 25, 1994, had said: `` Let it never be said, if it ever could have been said, that the Sinhala people are racists. They are not Mr.Speaker. They are absolutely not, and I think this election has demonstrated so handsomely, that particular argument, can be laid to rest for ever.''

Gooneratne also says: `` This knocks the bottom off the LTTE theory, that they are fighting the racism of the majority Sinhala community. The LTTE has misled the world, and has viciously maligned a community, esteemed for their tolerance.

``The assurances that you were able to obtain from the US State Department spokesman are very reassuring. It was most appropriate, that Steven Mann, who accepted your petition, addressed to State Secretary Warren Christopher, concerning LTTE terrorism, reiterated the position, that the USA considers, the LTTE, a terrorist group, and that the State Department, in its most recent report, ` Patterns of Global Terrorism', has included the LTTE in a special appendix, that included background information on major groups, ` involved in terrorism'.''

Mann, a former deputy chief of mission, at the US embassy in Sri Lanka had added:`` We continue to deplore acts of terrorism, committed by the LTTE', which statement, we appreciate very much'', Gooneratne in his letter, further states.

The Minister in conclusion said that it gave him endless satisfaction, as it would to the many thousands in Sri Lanka and outside, who were so desperately thirsting for a move, such as the one you, who was a valued contemporary during my student days, and professor Vidya Samarasinghe have made, in harnessing over 9,000 residents of the USA, comprising both Sri Lankans and well wishers, against LTTE terrorism.