Sri Lanka: The West backs genocide

Tim Dobson

16 May 2009

On the night of May 9, the Sri Lankan Army conducted one of the most brutal assaults in recent history against a civilian population. Medical sources within the so-called safe zone in, told Tamilnet.com that as many as 2000 people had been killed by heavy shelling in the Vanni region in the island’s north.

Tamilnet.com said on May 10: “Every kind of lethal weapon, such as the internationally banned cluster shells and shells fired from Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers and Cannons, were used turning the so-called safety zone into a killing field.

“The SLA usually chooses weekends for its massacres to minimise international attention.”

Mass graves with up to 60 bodies in each have been used to deal with the casualties.

The Sri Lankan government responded by claiming that “health officials in the area were under pressure from the rebels (the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) to lie”, Associated Press said on May 12.

It also claimed that any casualties were caused by the LTTE. A Sri Lankan defence ministry statement said: “They are bombarding their own civilians with heavy weapons to lay the blame on the Sri Lankan forces. Hopefully, in their calculation, this will attract the foreign countries to throw a life line to save their souls.”

Reuters reported on May 11 that Gordon Weiss, the UN spokesman in Colombo said: “We’ve been consistently warning against a bloodbath, and the large-scale killing of civilians, including the death of over 100 children, over the weekend shows that the bloodbath scenario has become a reality.”

Support

Despite some verbal criticisms, neither the United Nations nor Western governments have been willing to take any action against the Sri Lankan government.

A human rights professional in Colombo told Tamilnet.com: “This is the first time in history where the International Community and the UN have politically experimented such a mass killing of civilians in a single day by giving an almost open consent to a government.”

The major military powers in the world have all backed the Sri Lankan government. The British Guardian said on May 1, as the Sri Lankan genocide was escalating, that the UN Security Council would not withhold a loan to the Sri Lankan government by the International Monetary Fund for US$1.9 billion.

The Guardian said: “The council’s president, the Mexican ambassador Claude Heller, said all 15 members agreed that such a move, or other steps to punish Sri Lanka, was unnecessary.”

The current US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake, was quoted in a June 2007 Human Rights Features report saying the US is “a strong supporter in assisting Sri Lanka combat terror … by providing training and equipment to help the Sri Lankan military”.

The report said: “The US has provided approximately $500,000 annually to the Sri Lankan government under the International Military Education and Training Program (IMET), with additional, more variable financing ($1 million in 2006) under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme.”

Despite the US suspending direct military aid to Sri Lanka in 2007, it has given practical help to the Sri Lanka in its killing. The March 6 Christian Science Monitor said the US and India had supplied Sri Lankan with intelligence that has assisted it in its war.

The US also gave Sri Lanka $7.4 million in foreign aid last year.

In its 1987 report, Foreign Aid & Sri Lanka’s Military Expenditure, International Alert outlined the role that foreign aid plays in helping Sri Lanka continue its war. It said that “to the extent that it (aid) frees resources that would otherwise be spent upon these projects, it enables the government to run a larger defence budget than would otherwise be possible”.

Also, “aid enables a given defence budget to be sustained at less cost to the overall economy in terms of inflation and consumer shortages, and may thus diminish the political unattractiveness of pursuing a military solution to the problem”.

Britain has also been involved in directly arming the Sri Lankan government. Labour MP Joan Ruddock told British parliament in May 2007: “Inquiries that I have made reveal that £7 million-worth of [British] arms were licensed for delivery to Sri Lanka in the last quarter for which figures are available.

“Licenses were for armoured all-wheel drive vehicles, components for heavy machine guns, components for military distress signalling equipment, and many other types of equipment, including military aircraft ground equipment and communications equipment, and small arms ammunition”.

The British Socialist Worker said on May 12, in an article entitled “Britain embraces murder in Sri Lanka”, that “between 2006-2008, £12 million worth of British arms were sold to Sri Lanka”.

Israel has also provided direct support to Sri Lanka’s genocidal anti-Tamil killings. LTTE leader Anton Balasingham, in his 2004 book War and Peace: Armed Struggle and Peace Efforts of Liberation Tigers, argued: “The US operated in coordination with Israel and channelled military and technical assistance to Sri Lanka through the Jewish state.

“An Israeli ‘interest section’ was opened in the American embassy in Colombo. Israel began to build up the Sri Lankan naval capacity and brought in intelligence agents from Internal Security Service (Shinbet) to train the Sri Lankan armed forces and especially the Special Task Force (STF) in counter-insurgency warfare.”

India, a US ally in the “war on terror”, has played an active role in assisting Sri Lanka’s war by providing military aid.

Profits and power

Australian-based pro-Tamil Sinhalese activist Dr Brian Senewiratne has described the motivations behind Western support for Sri Lanka’s crimes as being part of the struggle for “control of the Indian Ocean”.

He said: “The Indian Ocean is not the largest ocean on this planet but is, by far, the busiest. Countries around the Indian Ocean produce 40% of the world’s oil. Seventy percent of the world’s oil shipments and 50% the world’s container cargo go across this Ocean. One hundred years ago, the US Admiral Alfred Maher rightly said, ‘Whoever controls the Indian Ocean, dominates Asia’ .

“The control of this strategic Ocean is the ‘big game’.”

This gives Sri Lanka a geo-political influence as the Indian Ocean major sea routes connecting Africa, Middle East, south Asia and east Asia with Europe.

This is why China is involved in funding Sri Lanka’s genocidal military. The May 2 London Times said: “China has cultivated ties with Sri Lanka for decades and became its biggest arms supplier in the 1990s … Beijing appears to have increased arms sales significantly to Sri Lanka since 2007.

“Many of the arms have been bought through Lanka Logistics & Technologies, co-headed by Gotabhaya Rajapksa, the Defence Secretary, who is also the President’s brother.”

The Times said: “Sri Lanka signed a classified $37.6 million deal to buy Chinese ammunition and ordnance for its army and navy … China gave Sri Lanka — apparently free of charge — six F7 jet fighters last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, after a daring raid by the Tigers’ air wing destroyed ten military aircraft in 2007.”

It isn’t hard to see China’s motivation. The Times said: “China is building a $1 billion port that it plans to use as a refuelling and docking station for its navy, as it patrols the Indian Ocean and protects China’s supplies of Saudi oil.

“Ever since Sri Lanka agreed to the plan, in March 2007, China has given it all the aid, arms and diplomatic support it needs to defeat the Tigers, without worrying about the West.”

Australia

The Australian government also provides Sri Lankan with foreign aid.

It also provides political support. Greens Senator Bob Brown moved a motion: “That the Senate, in regard to the massacre of civilians, including hundreds of children in the Tamil homelands of northern Sri Lanka, calls on the Government to take decisive action commensurate with the need to immediately halt this unnecessary bloodshed.”

The government refused to vote for it. Labor Senator Joe Ludwig said: “It is not clear which side was responsible” for the massacre on May 9-May 10.

Labor Senator Steve Hutchins interjected that the massacre was carried out “by the Tamils”.

In 2007-08, total trade between Australia and Sri Lanka was $280 million.

It is becoming increasing clear, that private profits are much more important to governments around the world than the lives of Tamils. It is up to a people’s movement to reverse these priorities and end support for Sri Lanka’s genocidal government.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s