Tamil human rights defenders and private bondholders share an interest in the Sri Lankan sovereign debt restructuring process
This letter has one purpose: to show you that your interests and ours coincide, with respect to Sri Lanka.
According to The Economist: ‘on April 12th…the South Asian island nation’s finance ministry said in a statement that it would suspend payments on all foreign debt until it had come to an agreement with creditors on how to restructure the loans.’ Later, the article states: ‘Sri Lanka owes around half of its $35bn in external debt to private bondholders in international credit markets.’ Those figures are confirmed by the Sri Lankan government itself.
In any future restructuring negotiations, there is no reason for you, the private bondholders, to accept a haircut. Please hold out for full repayment. This is better for your bottom line, and it’s good for Tamil Nation.
Here’s why FGTO (Federation of Global Tamil Organizations) advocates holding out. The Tamil Nation, with a long and proud entrepreneurial history, wants no part of Sri Lanka’s self-inflicted misfortune. Sri Lanka incurred this debt to commit genocide against Eelam Tamils. Instead, we’d like the chance to start with a clean financial slate, in a nation where we govern ourselves. We consider ourselves citizens of the occupied state of Tamil Eelam, in the North-East of the island.
From its beginnings, Sri Lanka has failed to be a responsible financial steward. Since independence under the name ‘Ceylon’ in 1948, the country has resisted every proposed political model of ethnic harmony. Instead, it has embedded ethnic scapegoating and war against Tamils (its Tamil-speaking populations) into its laws and politics. In turn, Sri Lanka’s ethnocratic politics have impoverished the state.
Here are the figures. The cost of military spending on the war against Tamils (1983-2009), was 14.92 billion USD. The cost of military spending, during its military occupation of Tamil Eelam, was 17.28 billion USD (2010-2019 figures). The total is 32.2 billion USD spent on Sri Lanka’s military from 1983-2019. This presents a compelling symmetry with the figure of 35.1 billion USD that Sri Lanka owes the international community—including to you, as bondholders.
A glance at Sri Lanka’s history clearly shows: its political and financial instability are rooted in its ethnically discriminatory political structure. As long as it continues to occupy Tamil Eelam, Sri Lankan ‘good governance’ indicators bode poorly for the tradable value of its sovereign bonds. The politics of ethnic targeting lead directly to a state and society that is perpetually, cyclically, unstable.
What’s true for us, is also true for you as foreign investors: a government that violates our human rights will also violate your rights as owners of Sri Lanka’s sovereign bonds. With such a fickle Sri Lankan policy environment, you’ll never know when another default or credit event is on the horizon.
Sri Lanka’s debt problems result directly from borrowing to finance its war on Tamils, and to occupy the territory of Tamil Eelam. Therefore, to put itself in the proper financial position to repay its debts to you as bondholders, Sri Lanka must first agree to a political solution towards Eelam Tamils, cease its military occupation, and slash its military spending.
Eelam Tamils include a successful, business-oriented diaspora in Europe, North America, Australia, and throughout Southeast Asia. We’re willing to help Sri Lanka repay its financial burden, if Sri Lanka commits itself in writing to negotiate an amicable political separation between Sri Lanka and Tamil Eelam, a formal agreement subject to binding arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Please hold out until Sri Lanka does so.
Don’t throw good money after bad in Sri Lanka—which seems to slip deeper into geopolitically risky debt, no matter which government is in power. We encourage you to invest in an independent and prosperous Tamil Eelam. We’re part of a nation that, in spite of a brutal genocide and occupation, has also learned a great deal from the mistakes of its neighbour about how to behave as a responsible and prudent destination for foreign investment.
Let’s set a precedent where private bondholders and distressed-debt investors can promote human rights, and help enforce global environmental, social, and governance standards. You deserve full repayment of the debts owed to you; and we deserve freedom and dignity.
Let’s work together on this.
Federation of Global Tamil Organizations, http://fgto.org | (647) 875 7354 | email@example.com
Present member organizations: Tamil American United PAC (TAUPAC), Global Tamil Movement (GTM), Ottawa Tamil Association (OTA), Quebec Tamil Development Association (QTDA), World Tamil Organization (WTO), Tamil Genocide Memorial (TGM), ABC Tamil Oli, Ilankai Thamil Sangam-Florida