STATEMENT BY CONGRESSMAN JERRY WELLER’S
REMARKS TO SRI LANKA CAUCUS
08 SEPTEMBER 2005
Thank you Ambassador Gtoonetilleke, distinguished
speakers, and co-chairman Pallone for hosting this important and
timely briefing today.
As many of you know, I had the privilege to travel
to Sri Lanka, now two years ago, and see first hand what the country
is grappling with in their long conflict with the LTTE. Let me
say that the warmth and hospitality I received from the people
of Sri Lanka was incredible and your country, Mr. Ambassador,
is very special to me.
Something I noticed at that time was a sense
of optimism among the people. The cease-fire with the LTTE was
still fresh and hope was newly minted in the people that perhaps
finally, the decades old terrorist aggression by the LTTE might
be coming to an end. Sri Lanka has long fought with terrorists
from within its own country and has worked diligently to maintain
the cease fire so carefully brokered, and yet so fragile.
Mr. Ambassador, the restraint your government
has shown in the face of the LTTE terror assassination of Foreign
Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, a gentleman I had the pleasure to
meet and discuss Sri Lanka’s future with, is remarkable.
This shows the intensity and the importance the government places
on peace in Sri Lanka. In fact, the Scandanavian truce monitors
have reported that through May 2005, there were 2903 cease-fire
violations committed by the LTTE, while only 131 violations of
the cease-fire by the government of Sri Lanka. It is clear to
see who has taken this responsibility of maintaining the peace
the most seriously.
Of course, we all know that Sri Lanka was one
of the countries most devastated by the tsunami of December 2004.
Sri Lanka’s fragile economy has been seriously harmed by
the tsunami and this is yet another area where the United States
can be helpful in the rebuilding process not only through aid,
but through trade. I think it is a most generous act that Sri
Lanka - still reeling from its own tsunami - was one of the first
nations to step up to the plate when Hurricane Katrina slammed
into our Gulf Coast, offering donations of money and medical personnel,
and the worlds finest tea to the victims. Sri Lanka has been a
consistent friend and ally of the United States, and their partnership
Our speakers today will inform us more about
the challenges Sri Lanka faces, with a focus on the future of
the cease-fire and how the United States and its partners in the
international community can be helping to ensure peace and stability
are firmed in this important island nation. Again, thank you for
being here today.