March 31, 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 the 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 at the Colombo 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 ‘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’ so that the readers will 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.

A couple of months before the political-science professor Dina Titus was elected to the US Congress from the State of Nevada in November 2008.  She was blunt when addressed a large Sri Lankan gathering in Las Vegas. She was of the opinion that the LTTE secessionist/terrorist movement and the grievances of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority were two distinct issues and that no government should negotiate with designated terrorist outfits and that her office in Washington would not be opened for lobbyists of the Tamil Tigers.

Daya Gamage interviewing

During an exclusive one-one-interview with Daya Gamage, the erudite university pedagogue in March 2011, for the online daily newspaper the  Asian Tribune, she had a message for Sri Lanka ( “ Bring the minority  Tamils to the mainstream, to the democratic process, and then lift the remaining restrictions to ensure civil liberties.” (http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2011/03/12/dina-titus-member-us-civil-rights-commiussion-urges- Sri- Lanka -lift-restrictions-bring.

The message to Sri Lanka was not from an adversary but from an avowed friend of Sri Lanka, who is very knowledgeable of national and international politics and geopolitical trends. When Sri Lankan state was in full swing to defeat the LTTE, she was sympathetic to the counter-terrorism efforts of the South Asian nation to rid itself of the terrorist menace of the Tamil Tigers.

A person who has championed human rights throughout her life was now advocating the loosening of the post terrorist  Sri Lankan society and stressing the importance of reconciliation.

Mahinda Rajapaksa Administration.

Mahinda Rajapaksa administration, in fact, failed to bring a balance between civil liberties and national security. Its efforts to curb certain civil liberties helped the secessionist elements within the  Tamil diaspora to strategically move toward American policymakers to give a serious focus toward their ( separatist) Objectives. Mrs Titus was conscious of that fact.

Professor  Titus of the  University of Nevada Las  Vegas (UNLV) was a member of the US House of Representatives (2008-2010) and member of the US Civil  Rights Council ( 2011-2012), and she re-entered the House in November 2012 and maintained a close rapport with Daya Gamage. She was somewhat cautious about Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process.

As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, and after the heavily won war against the terrorist Tamil Tigers, now it is very hard to move forward as a certain ethnic group associated with the enemy who lost the battle, there is a  real challenge for the Sri Lanka government to deal with a peacetime relationship in a way to take away some of the restrictions while allowing the minority Tamils to be full participants in the democratic process to move forward. And that’s easier to tell than done!

She was not pessimistic about Sri Lanka’s efforts of ethnic reconciliation but noted the reality: a fair majority of minority Tamils in some way associated with the LTTE, although they despised the outfit’s terror tactics; as a peacetime effort, the Sri Lankan government may have to take extra measures to bring that Tamil populous toward them in making positive signals to encompass them in mainstream Sri Lanka.

The most striking note about Sri Lanka.

Dina Titus was well aware that the LTTE was solely composed of minority Tamils and that Sri Lanka’s  Tamil minority, despite their unsupportive attitude toward the terror tactics of the LTTE, was psychologically tied to the Tamil Tiger movement;  that a greater attempt was needed to break them from the  Tamil Tiger orbit; and that the government of Sri Lanka had a herculean task in bringing them to the mainstream.

What she said between the lines was that ‘the Sri Lanka regime needed to seriously engage in the reconciliation process to win the hearts and minds of the Tamil for Sri Lankan society to move forward in the post-terrorist atmosphere.’

The Mahinda Rajapaksa administration never understood this reality until it was voted out of office during January 8, 2015, Presidential election.

Courtesy:  Daya Gamage – “ Tamil Tigers’ debt to American”

pic credit: Ceylon Today, Google pics.

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