UPDATED AGAIN: 10-12-09
The Tamil point of view which never was represented in the comments are is represented in this article:
US responds to Sri Lanka protest over Clinton remark
The United States, responding to protests from Sri Lanka over remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said it had no recent evidence of women being raped while in Sri Lankan government custody.
In a letter addressed to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama, the State Department noted that the US government and international human rights groups over the years had detailed “numerous cases of rape and sexual violence in Sri Lanka, particularly acts committed against women held in detention by the government.”
However, the letter signed by Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for global women’s issues at the State Department said that “in the most recent phase of the conflict, from 2006 to 2009 … we have not received reports that rape and sexual abuse were used as tools of war, as they clearly have in other conflict area around the world.”
“We hope that this clarification puts the issue in its proper context,” the letter said, adding that Washington remains concerned about extrajudicial killings, disappearances and detainee abuse in Sri Lanka.
“Secretary Clinton believes that Sri Lanka must focus to the future and move forward on the promotion of peace and the protection of human rights,” the letter said.
Well, I don’t know whether that makes things all better, but where this goes on, Hillary will call it!
Ever since early February, when, just weeks into her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary joined U.K. Foreign Minister, David Miliband in calling for a halt to human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, both Miliband and Hillary have come under attack by that government as well as by the secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The Clinton-Miliband joint statement of February 3, 2009 is below:
Earlier today at a meeting, Secretary Clinton and U.K. Foreign Secretary Miliband discussed their serious concern about deteriorating humanitarian situation in northern Sri Lanka caused by the ongoing hostilities. They affirmed their insistence on a political resolution to this longstanding conflict. The time to resume political discussions is now and we will continue to work with the Tokyo Co-Chairs, the Sri Lankan government, and the UN to facilitate such a process.
Secretary Clinton and Foreign Secretary Miliband call on both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to agree to a temporary no-fire period. Both sides need to allow civilians and wounded to leave the conflict area and to grant access for humanitarian agencies.
We welcome today’s statement by the Tokyo Co-Chairs (Norway, Japan, US and EU) jointly expressing their great concern about the plight of thousands of internally displaced persons trapped by fighting in northern Sri Lanka. We join the Co-Chairs and call on the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka not to fire out of or into the safe zone established by the Government or in the vicinity of the PTK hospital (or any other medical structure), where more than 500 patients are receiving care and many hundreds more have sought refuge. We also call on both sides to allow food and medical assistance to reach those trapped by fighting, cooperate with the ICRC to facilitate the evacuation of urgent medical cases, and ensure the safety of aid and medical workers. The LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka must respect the international law of armed conflict.
The picture in this Madam Secretary blog post WANTED: Clinton, for aiding terrorism, most disturbingly hammers home the level of vitriol with which the Clinton-Miliband team is viewed in Sri Lanka.
Again in early May, they spoke up together calling for an end to the conflict.
Indeed, in late May, the government forces finally did overcome the LTTE forces and a quarter century of conflict came to an end, but as in so many cases of civil conflict, the human rights issues did not cease with the ceasefire. Camps for the displaced and victims of the war are essentially holding areas where innocent civilians and combatant LTTE are intermingled. As the camps filled in late May, UNICEF called for a quick screening by the government to identify those who are true victims and had no part in the conflict so that they might receive the humanitarian aid they required.
As we all know, our indomitable Homegirl acted as President and Chair of the U.N. Security Council this past Wednesday putting forth the U.N. Resolution on Violence Against Women and Girls which was adopted with no objections. The full transcript and text is at the link above. Part of what Council President Hillary Clinton (typing that felt so good!) said is below.
Council President HILLARY CLINTON, Secretary of State of the United States, speaking in her national capacity, said: “We are here to address an issue that has received too little attention, not only in the Council but also by all Governments around the world.” That issue went to the core of protecting the safety of citizens in all countries. It also went to the responsibility under the United Nations Charter to protect the lives of all, including women. That responsibility was particularly acute in circumstances where peace was challenged.
Noting that women and children were often the victims in wars for which they bore no responsibility, she said the resolution just adopted was a step towards protecting women in conflict zones. It built on resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008). Violence against women and girls during conflict had not diminished, in fact, in some cases it had escalated. The use of rape as a tactic of war had been used in Bosnia, Burma, Sri Lanka and elsewhere and the perpetrators were not being punished. That impunity encouraged further attacks. In Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, which she had visited, and where thousands of cases of rape were being reported, she had met the victims. The toll on them, their family and society could not be quantified. “It shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings.” It also undermined economic progress.
There is nothing particularly anti-Sri Lanka in that statement as I read it. It is a simple statement of the fact in the context, as Hillary always puts such acts, of the need for the government to seek out and punish the guilty – on both sides of the conflict. It seems, however, that the government of Sri Lanka has taken exception to her remark. On my Hillary news feed today, this article popped up: Sri Lanka Protest Clinton’s Rape Remark.
Well, it seems you just cannot please everybody. The North Koreans made remarks about her which, if comically cryptic and contradictory, were meant to insult (she laughed). Last week on Larry King, Hugo Chavez was equally complimentary: “Hillary Clinton is lost. America should be concerned about that.” And now The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka continues its attacks on our Homegirl.
Hillary Clinton picks her fights and issues. Last week represented a milestone in Hillary’s career-long battle for the rights of women and girls. That men and military regimes will not necessarily agree with her positions is a no-brainer. But, like Joan of Arc or SuperWoman, she will continue her fight. If these guys despise her, we love her all the more. I don’t think the Homegirls need to worry about Hillary going on a trip to Colombo any time soon.