THE CURRENT SITUATION
The Sri Lankan government has penned the LTTE and the entire civilian population of about 200,000 of the Vani area who have sought refuge in the LTTE held areas into an area of similar size to Gaza, with the LTTE around the perimeter preventing the Sri Lankan military from entering. After ordering the remaining international aid agencies ICRC and UN personnel out, the Sri Lankan military declared safe zones to which civilians should move, and after civilians had moved into the declared safe areas, began targeting hospitals and concentrations of civilians in the government declared safe zone with cluster bombs, napalm, and multi-barrel rocket launchers on a daily basis killing on average 50 to 100 civilians a day. In addition the Sri Lankan government has blocked medical supplies and food going to the civilians in an attempt to starve civilians out and prevent treatment of injuries. Large numbers of civilians are dying from injuries caused by this bombardment because of lack of anti-biotics, antiseptics and other basic medicines. Surgery is having to be done out in the open because of shelling of hospitals. The onset of starvationhas been reported.
All this has been happening on a continuous and daily basis for the last two months. Some typical daily reports follow. Onlylocal ICRC staff remain to report on the carnage - foreign nationals having been ordered out by the Sri Lankan government:
Sri Lankan Government's targeting of civilians and hospital
- Sri Lanka Shelling of No Fire Zone Noted at UN, Claims Pillay, Inner Cict Press 24 March 2009
- SLA shelling kills ICRC Team Leader in Vanni TamilNet, 9 April 2009
- SLA attacks kill 129 civilians, 282 wounded in 'safety zone' on Wednesday TamilNet, 8 April 2009
- Eyewitness reports horrific experiences at makeshift hospital TamilNet, 3 April 2009
- Mangled bodies, torn limbs litter Safe Zone - medical official TamilNet, 5 April 2009
- Medical official reports on pattern of shelling inside safe zone TamilNet, 6 April 2009
- Carnage continues in Vanni TamilNet, 9 April 2009
What The Protests Are About
Why Are Tamils Demonstrating in Britain?
The acts of deliberately targeting civilians or hospitals (regardless of whether there is a ceasefire or not) is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
The act of blocking medical supplies to the injured (regardless of whether there is a ceasefire or not) is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
The act of blocking food to civilians (regardless of whether there is a ceasefire or not) is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
These things are set out in black and white in the Geneva Conventions - there are no grounds for dispute as to whether the above actions constitute war crimes of not.
The Sri Lankan government blatently has been doing all three of the above with impunity on a continuous basis for at least the last three months, and is continuing to do so now.
Where Does The British Government Come Into This?
Tamils and other human rights organisations and some countries have been trying to pressure the Sri Lankan government into a ceasefire and a negotiated peace to save lives and ensure the safety of civilians.
Mexico proposed a discussion of the genocide taking place in Sri Lanka in the UN, but the British government (along with China and Russia) has blocked any discussions of Sri Lanka in the UN.
What is more according to inside sources, UN staff like the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, John Holmes Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Justice Pillay - the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have all been told not to discuss Sri Lanka or release any statistics on Sri Lanka.
"During the visit of Ban and his entourage to Washington, the word Sri Lanka did not arise even once, chief UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy told Inner City Press on Wednesday in the Rayburn House Office Building. This despite Ban Ki-moon have twice called for a cessation of fighting, and his Spokesperson's Office's claim that he has made the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka a priority."
- On Sri Lanka, IMF Says Its Pending Loan Would "Support Government Policy Goals," To Wait and See Inner City Press, 12 March 2009
- In Sri Lanka, UN Has Casualty Estimate But Won't Release, Why No Cease Fire Call Is "Theoretical Question," Ban's Office Says Inner City Press, 17 February 2009
It is believed that while Russia and China might be expected to block this issue anyway, the unanimity among the five permanent UN Security Council Members provided by the British government and its ability to influence the US and France is what is behind the silencing of Ban, Holmes and Pillai, and responsible for this unprecedented move within the UN to protect Sri Lanka's impunity to commit genocide.
The first step to preventing genocide is to recognize that it is happening. Until that is done, no steps can be taken to prevent it. By using its position in the UN to block discussion of Sri Lanka, Britain is complicit in the genocide taking place there.
British Tamils have been taking these issues up with their MPs who are generally sympathetic and understanding, and have backed their request for pressure to be put forward in the UN for a ceasefire, but both the Tamil community and backbench MPs (of all parties) have been repeatedly given the runaround by cabinet ministers like David Milliband, Lord Malloc Brown, and Bill Ramell. The following news items track the recent events with regard to the British Parliament and Cabinet:
- British duplicity of proscribing LTTE, inaction to Colombo's war questioned
- Russia, UK protect Colombo's international impunity
- Britain trying to dodge obligations to prevent Genocide of Tamils - Prof. Boyle
- 'Parliament proposes, Rammell dismisses'
For Tamils, the final straw came when reports surfaced of the use of chemical weapons by the Sri Lankan government in which approximately 500 LTTE troops and 1500 civilians are believed to have died.
An unplanned demonstration was staged by angry students who had simply had enough of the government's actions to protect Sri Lanka's impunity to carry out such actions and simply aping the Sri Lankan government claims that it was all the LTTE's doing. They blocked Westminster bridge in order to get some attention on the issue which they felt the British cabinet was sweeping the issue under the carpet for months while an average of 50 to 100 Tamil civilians were being killed per day.
- Colombo uses chemical weapons: LTTE
- Photos of bodies released recently by the Sri Lankan ministry fordefence show signs of chemical weapons use
Public claims made earlier by the Sri Lankan government that the LTTE has chemical weapons now make sense, as the government would have needed a cover for the training with and deployment of chemical warfare suits for protection of their own troops during their own use of chemical weapons, in order to avoid international attention.
The Tamils are not asking for any form of direct intervention by Britain, just action through the UN to insist on an immediate cessation to the violation of the Geneva conventions, followed by a ceasefire and UN monitors, and removal of the terror ban on the LTTE so that negotiation is possible, since the main justification for a total military solution to deny any form of talks or political engagement with Tamils is that the Sri Lankan government (and those in the British government aping the Sri Lankan governments stance) will not negotiate with terrorists, including anyone who disagrees with the Sri Lankan government's views or actions, who are labelled LTTE supporters as the protestors themselves are being tagged by many - despite the fact that the demonstrators are law abiding British citizens who have never been involved in any violence.
Sri Lanka is of course unlikely to comply with any UN resolution, but that fact has never stopped the UN making resolutions elsewhere - why should it be different here?
Acknowledgement that genocide is taking place requires discussion of the issue, and this is necessarily a first step in order to prevent the genocide, which is undoubtedly happening in Sri Lanka.
This is after all why denial of the Nazi holocaust is condemned so vehemently in the West. Despite the fact that nothing can now be done to prevent what happened in the past, acknowledgement that it has happened is the key to preventing genocide from continuing or from happening in the future.
Britain has been faithfully pushing Sri Lanka's line, in asking for the capitulation of the LTTE as a necessary precondition for the cessation of the Sri Lankan government's war crimes as defined by the Geneva Conventions.
Britain is also pushing Sri Lanka's line by insisting that evacuated civilians can be held captive in Nazi style concentration camps and subjected to torture, rape and disappearances, which are all routine in Sri Lanka.
Incredibly Sri Lanka has proposed detaining the entire Tamil civilian population of 200,000 trapped in the war zone plus another 200,000 from other areas in Nazi style forced labour camps for 5 to 10 years paid to be paid for by Western aid while their land and property is colonised by Sinhalese settlers. This is basically the line the solution the British government is backing - march into captivity or face genocide, although the British government says it in a more diplomatic way.
Tamils civilians are reluctant to do do this because of torture, rape and disappearances which occur with impunity in Sri Lankan government custody. The only circumstance under which they will willingly do this is if they are starving or injured, and Sri Lankan government knows this and is doing its best to ensure this happens.
- Number of civilians fleeing war to Jaffna drops sharply
- Nazi style concentration camps proposed by Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka plans to hold displaced Tamils in 'concentration camps'
Why Is Britain Taking This Line?
Lord Malloc Brown is trying very hard to extend the GSP+ concessions granted to Sri Lanka after the 2004 Tsunami as a temporay measure, which was up for renewal last October.
GSP+ is a special concession which very few countries are granted, and which allows duty free export into the EU zone. No country in South Asia, other than Sri Lanka is granted this privilege. In order to qualify, certain human rights critera need to be met. Sri Lanka most certainly does not qualify on those grounds.
Last October when Sri Lanka refused to allow inspection that would be required to grant an extension, Lord Malloc Brown travelled to the East of Sri Lanka which is under government control, where local elections widely regarded as rigged both within and outside Sri Lanka, has put into power Tamil paramilitary groups employed by the Sri Lankan government. One - Karuna - is accused of war crimes including recruiting child soldiers jointly with the Sri Lankan military.
- UK: Failure to protect witnesses allows suspected war criminals to avoid prosecution Amnesty International, 3 July 2008
- UN: Sri Lanka military recruiting child soldiers' TamilNet, 13 Nov 2006
- Sri Lanka army is accused of recruiting child soldiers NouPublic.com, 23 Feb 2009
Lord Malloc Brown gave a (false) positive report on the human rights record of the Sri Lankan government and somehow Sri Lanka was granted a 6 month extension of the GSP+ which it is not entitled to, "until a more detailed assessment can be made".
In this context, Britain's support for Sri Lankan impunity suddenly becomes clear. The Labour cabinet ministers appear to be trying to put together a fradulent report hiding Sri Lanka's poor human rights record (in much the same way as fradulent reports were used to take Britain into the gulf war) in order get the GSP+ concessions (which Sri Lanka is not entitled to) extended for another three years. If Sri Lanka's genocide or other human rights violations were discussed in the UN, thenit would destroy any chance of GSP+ extension no matter how carefully the case is made by Sri Lanka's supporters in Britain and the EU. Hence Britain's suppression of discussion of Sri Lanka's genocide and human rights abuses in the UN to prevent them from being acknowledged.
Who is behind the push for GSP+ extension? The Sri Lankan government is of course one party lobbying British government ministers (and EU MEPs and bureaucrats). Another is Marks and Spenser which imports a lot of garments from Sri Lanka. Granting GSP+ status to Sri Lanka would give Marks and Spencers an advantage over its UK competitors, at British and EU taxpayers expense.
Unethical M&S practices
Because of Marks and Spencers unethical practices, the British Tamil community is also planning later boycotts of Marks and Spencer stores. Please support these boycotts if you can.