Straightening the record on Sri Lanka's Tamils

Regarding "Assault on Sri Lankan leader may win votes" (Dec. 20): History does not record anywhere that 1 million Hindu Tamils were deprived of citizenship rights at the time "Ceylon" obtained independence from Britain. Obviously your contributor is referring to the Tamils of Indian origin, who were brought in by the British colonialists as indentured labor to work on land confiscated from the native Sinhalese owners.

At the time of independence these Tamils were stateless as India, too, refused to accept them as its nationals. No country, let alone a developing country, can afford the luxury of granting citizenship on such a large scale to "foreign nationals."

The rightful thing would have been for Britain to take these Indian Tamils to Britain and grant them British citizenship. In the absence of such action by Britain, Sri Lanka magnanimously granted thousands of these Indian Tamils Sri Lankan nationality under various pacts with India. Some were sent to India and many of them found their way back to Sri Lanka the illegal way, because conditions were better for them in Sri Lanka.

Tiny Sri Lanka is dealing with a lethal combination of Hitler, Pol Pot, and Saddam Hussein in Prabakaran, the Tamil Tiger guerrilla leader. The sooner the Western media recognizes this and abandons the blind path that a negotiated settlement is possible with a person who takes an non-negotiable stance, the sooner there will be a solution to Sri Lanka's problem.

Joseph Rontgen Perera Zamalek, Egypt

Sharper view of moon event

Regarding "Pathway of the moon" (Dec. 21): Perhaps you should clarify that, while correct, your illustration depicts the moon's position for a new rather than a full moon, as occurred on Dec. 22. Also, for all you moon-watchers, there will be a complete eclipse at full moon in mid-January.

A.B. Collom Burlingame, Calif.

The case for same-sex marriage

Three cheers for the Vermont Supreme Court for recognizing that committed gay couples deserve the same rights and benefits as do heterosexual couples ("Ruling will stir states on same-sex marriage," Dec. 22).

A heterosexual couple who chooses to marry on a whim in Las Vegas the same day they meet will automatically receive all the legal, tax, governmental, insurance, and other benefits and rights that marriage grants to them, while a gay couple who may have lived together for 30 years, lived in the same home for 25 years, cared for each other through illnesses, comforted each other after the loss of loved ones and shared their entire lives together remain strangers in the eyes of the law.

Society has a compelling interest in encouraging stable, monogamous relationships between adults. If it's good when straight couples settle down in permanent, legally sanctioned relationships, why is it bad when gay couples do likewise?

Alan L. Light Iowa City, Iowa

What do charitable donations fund?

Regarding "The 50 largest US charities ranked by total income" (Dec. 6): I live off little more than a Social Security check, yet many of the countless appeals by charities are so heart-wrenching that my conscience hurts because I am not supporting more of them. And to think that all along I have been contributing to the astronomical salaries of many charity officials. Have they no shame? Most people who are actually doing the field work do it for very little pay, and many are giving their time for free. How will this disclosure impact on their enthusiam? I know how it affects mine: Don't expect to get another contribution from me, and I will no longer have a bad conscience, either.

Margaret Hofmann Austin, Texas

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