As the United Nations General Assembly convenes in New York this week, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced a Senate resolution calling for a comprehensive international approach to address Sri Lanka’s current political and economic crises, including challenges related to poor governance and economic policy under the Rajapaksa family’s rule.
“After decades of conflict, political mismanagement, and unaddressed inequalities, the Sri Lankan people have made it clear they aspire for something better,” Durbin said. “Introduction of this resolution shows that the U.S. Senate stands with peaceful democratic efforts to address these long neglected challenges.”
“I am proud to be joined by my colleagues in introducing our resolution that necessarily calls attention to the devastating political and economic turmoil plaguing the people of Sri Lanka,” Menendez said. “As the country grapples with its worst domestic crisis since the end of its civil war, the international community must continue to provide robust support and ensure that accountability for war crimes and respect for human rights in Sri Lanka remain top priorities. I applaud efforts by the Biden administration, our Quad partners, and the IMF in providing critical humanitarian and economic assistance, and affirm my commitment to continue to work with my colleagues to advance stability and prosperity in Sri Lanka and the broader region.”
“The Rajapaksa family enriched themselves at the expense of the Sri Lankan people, ruthlessly silencing their opponents, inciting ethnic tensions, and leaving the country an economic shambles,” Leahy said. “After years of civil war and government mismanagement and abuse, Sri Lanka needs a government that is committed to ethnic tolerance, equitable economic development, human rights, and justice. That should also be the focus of U.S. policy.”
“The Sri Lankan people have sent a firm message that they want their government to address the dire economic and humanitarian crises that are afflicting their country,” Booker said. “I stand with the Sri Lankan people and support their peaceful efforts to address their needs. Furthermore, the international community must continue to push for justice, transparency, and accountability for human rights violations committed during the civil war to help the people of Sri Lanka move forward.”
While commending the Biden administration and other Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) members’ support for Sri Lanka, the resolution calls on the UN Human Rights Council to extend its war crimes accountability resolution; urges Sri Lankan security forces to respect Sri Lankans’ rights to protest peacefully; and presses President Ranil Wickremesinghe to work with opposition parties and ethnic minority groups in efforts to address the crisis.