Key members of Congress have urged their colleagues to support a campaign for stronger U.S.-Sri Lankan relations and to back the people of Sri Lanka as they continue to recover from years of conflict against terrorism.
“In addition to supporting the people of Sri Lanka as they negotiate this important moment in their history, the Sri Lanka Caucus looks forward to strengthening our strategic partnership and working to promote trade and investment between our two countries,” Van Hollen and Aderholt wrote. “Sri Lanka, a multi-party, multi-ethnic democracy recently emerged from a long struggle with the (banned) terrorist group, the Tamil Tigers and is now rebuilding and focusing its energy on repairing the emotional wounds inflicted from 30 years of violent internal conflict.
“The United States and Sri Lanka have a proud history of mutual understanding and cooperation stretching back to the 18th century when the first commercial contacts were made between our two nations. Since then, Sri Lanka has been a valued ally of the United States.”
The letter follows a statement by another House member, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who praised Sri Lanka on its April 14 Sinhalese-Tamil New Year.
“During this time of national reconciliation, I look forward to a new era of Sri Lankan-American relations built on economic, strategic,” Rep. Wilson said, “and political cooperation between our two democratic societies.”
Sri Lanka has established a Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission to examine the final years of its conflict against terrorism. The April 15 notes the LLRC’s work, recounting that it was, “loosely modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that investigated apartheid in South Africa.”
The LLRC has taken testimony from hundreds of witnesses, which include top government officials and civilians affected by the conflict. Its report and recommendations are due in May.
Rep. Aderholt, a long-time leader of the Sri Lanka Caucus, has been an ardent supporter of further advancing U.S.-Sri Lankan economic and strategic ties.
Rep. Van Hollen was named co-chair of the Sri Lankan Congressional Caucus last week, but he is no newcomer to Sri Lanka. Van Hollen spent part of his childhood in Sri Lanka while his father, Christopher Van Hollen, served as U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka.
Embassy of Sri Lanka