February 8, 2020

Daya Gamage worked at the American Embassy in Colombo, as the Sole Foreign Service National and as a Political Specialist with Dr Robert Boggs, who in recent times served as Professor of South Asian Studies at Near East South Asia Centre for Strategic Studies at the US National Defence University, from 1989 to 1993. Dr Boggs was the Foreign Service Political Counsellor while Daya Gamage was the Foreign Service National Political Specialist. Both of them were the Colombo US Diplomatic Mission’s key persons who closely monitored the Southern (JVP-88-89) insurrection and the North’s LTTE separatist-terrorist movement for the U.S. State Department. Daya Gamage retired in 1994 and has been living in Las Vegas since retirement. Sharing his knowledge, understanding and his intimate professional association with the US Department of State, he has come out in the form of a book titled:’Tamil Tigers’ Debt to America.’ He assures that facts found in his book cannot be found anywhere else! Daya Gamage authorised the writer to ” to quote anything from his book” in order that the readers may get a clear picture of America’s Foreign Policy, Sri Lanka’s National issues and the LTTE struggle in depth. His book is available at Amazon.

The LTTE had been tirelessly working, lobbying Western diplomatic representatives in Sri Lanka through its proxies, and through professionals in Western nations, to gain international recognition and legitimacy to establish territorial autonomy over the Tamil homeland since the early 1990s. The Tigers used their well- oiled propaganda machinery and its diplomacy to convince the West that Tigers the sole representatives of the Tamil people.

Boucher and his Colleagues clearing the path

Almost two years before Richard Boucher and Robert Blake brought exerted pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka to halt the final offensive, encouraging a dialogue between two warring factions, the Richard Boucher on 1st of June 2006, in Colombo paved the way for Liberation Tigers to achieve the role of sole representative and legitimise their claim of Tamil homeland. This significant achievement of the Liberation Tigers can well be attributed to the “settled mind-set” of the American Diplomatic Corps. The State Department, when dealing with foreign nations, generally gets succumbed

to “ semantic infiltration,” in this case bringing Tamil homeland into its lexicon. To the LTTE and its fellow travellers, Tamil homeland means a separate, independent state. This largely benefitted, since the defeat of the Tigers, to the overall diplomatic manoeuvres of the professional operatives of the Tamil Diaspora. The mind-set took a central role in dealing with the Government of Sri Lanka since the defeat of the LTTE in 2009. It echoed all the way to the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) in Geneva, which brought friction between the United States ( and some EU nations) and Sri Lanka.

This scenario greatly encouraged the former LTTE operatives and professionals to gain a stronger position to emerge as spokespersons of the 11 per cent Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, convince the West that they were the sole spokespersons of the Tamil minority, negotiate with the United States and foreign – affairs handlers of other Western nations on issues of the Tamil minority, and encourage the United States to use its settled mindset to manipulate the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

When Richard Boucher recognised the “homeland concept” and “ traditionally inhabited” areas, the right to “ govern themselves in their homeland,” and inalienable right to “ control their own lives,” he was giving legitimacy to the claims of an organisation designated by his own administration as a foreign terrorist organisation. The long-term effect of the Boucher sentiment, which formed the core element of the State Department policy was that it gave a fillip to the LTTE rump operating within the Tamil Diaspora to successfully launch a global diplomatic offensive against the Government of Sri Lanka in the post-war era with a passive US nod.

Demography of Sri Lanka

More Tamils live among the Sinhalese than ever before in the history of the Nation. Tamils in significant numbers have left the North and East to settle in the South; they buy houses and land in Sihala majority areas mostly in the semi-suburban areas, closer to the rural towns. In 1981 at the time Liberation Tigers commenced its armed insurrection, 608,144or 32.8 per cent of Tamils lived outside the Northern and Eastern provinces. In 2001, approximately 736,480 of Tamils lived outside the Northern and Eastern provinces. A conservative estimate since the December tsunami was that close to 40 per cent of Tamils was domiciled among the Sinhalese outside the Northern and Eastern provinces. The Official Department of Census and Statistics for 2014 indicated 54 per cent Tamils living outside the Northern and Eastern provinces. In the Colombo city limits and its surrounding areas alone, the minority of Tamil Community is estimated at 30 per cent of the total population of the Colombo District.

Eastern Province

The Eastern Province, which consists of Trincomalee, Ampara and Batticaloa districts, depicts quite a different story in terms of demography. In Trincomalee district, all three ethnic groups, Sinhalese Tamils and Muslims are equally divided. In the Amara district division, Sinhalese and Muslims are almost equally divided between the Sinhalese and Muslims. In the Batticaloa district, Tamil population is almost 80 per cent, and the rest is divided among the Muslims and Sinhalese, Muslims being the next dominant ethnic group.

Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil population divides between the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Tamils of recent Indian origin, who are also known as ‘ Indian Tamils.’ The Indian Tamils were brought to Sri Lanka by the British colonialists in the middle of the eighteenth century for tea and rubber plantation work, and they consist of 5.5 per cent of the total Sri Lankan population of 20 million. The Sri Lankan Tamils, out of the total population, are little above 11 (eleven) per cent.

In the Northern and Eastern provinces, according to recent estimates, the Sri Lankan Tamil population out of the total Sri Lankan population is 8.6 per cent. The so-called Tamil Land has 8.6 per cent of the total Sri Lankan population with one-third of the land of Sri Lanka and two-thirds of the coastline.

The US Embassy workshop on Federalism.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Sri Lanka, with the collaboration of a local NGO, Centre for Policy Alternatives, supported by Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) of the USAID from September 2005 through to March 2006, mobilised over forty grassroots organisations to convene a series of workshops in their local areas( http://www.priu.gov.lk new _supdate/Current_affairs/ca200602/20060207federalism_one_ solution_us_ambassador.htm).

This train-the-trainer programme consisted of a five-day in-depth training on Federalism and concluded with sessions on training techniques and methodologies. Basic information about the history of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict, past attempts at a negotiated settlement, and vital features of the decline of power and federalism were all discussed at these nationwide workshops.

The USAID Washington press release dated March 13, 2006, is as follows:

“ On conclusion of the programme, the trainers began a series of workshops for the grassroot groups in their communities. The objective of these workshops was to create a larger, more cohesive group from all ethnicities who are knowledgeable about the complexities of the island’s ethnic conflict and who have a more in-depth awareness of federalism and related issues. A special effort was made to respond to concerns and fears that many people have about the federal idea. In fact, the objective of the US embassy in organising these workshops was to promote federalism when there was no mood in the country for such an administrative structure.”


courtesy: Daya Gamage – “Tamil Tigers’ Debt to America.

To be continued.

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