– by Shenali Waduge –
The decision to hold the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting or CHOGM in Sri Lanka was endorsed by a proposal made in 2009 by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the CHOGM summit held in Trinidad and Tobago. But in an “All together chorus” the bandwagon of almost the same people supporting the LTTE are now demanding CHOGM boycott of Colombo. All we can say is if it makes everyone sleep a little better cancel the CHOGM and disband it all together. The Commonwealth only means revisiting all the crimes and atrocities committed by the British for which all the colonies ruled by Britain should ideally now seek compensation as their countries were plundered and MILLIONS of indigenous people were brutally massacred by British soldiers turning fertile and once rich nations into Third World nations and it should be payback time. Why would any Third World nation need to be going behind the Commonwealth is a question Sri Lanka and other member nations need to ask themselves.
The list of those calling for the boycott is the boring list of same people asking the LTTE to be let off the hook. They had not cared a damn for any of the heinous crimes committed by the LTTE through 3 decades. Thus, we find politicians like Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper protesting against Sri Lanka’s human rights record, Canadian MP Bob Rae, newest entrant is Australian former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and who can forget former British foreign secretary now packed off to the US! Joining this list are the unofficial LTTE spokespersons Frances H and filmmaker C Macrae whose newest job appears to be making films on behalf of the LTTE and speaking on behalf of them too and one seriously wonders whether he is entering politics or will end up a MP in the utopian TGTE sometime soon. Joining the list is now Human Rights Watch – thankfully there are enough of human rights abuses around the world that secures these organizations their jobs!
The reason why Sri Lanka is unsuited to hold the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is its record of HUMAN RIGHTS. Let’s see what the Human Rights records of the Head of the Commonwealth – the UK can be proud about given that the CHOGM is formed from past colonies that were under the British Empire. Lets see how many can remember these atrocities and the scale of the crimes committed against humanity – these crimes run into MILLIONS … humans who were subject to tortures that none can even imagine!
- India – The British colonial masters used hunger and starvation as tools which lasted for about eighteen decades which claimed about 30 million victims. Bengal had 30 or 40 famines during 182 years of British rule in Bengal. The last big famine in Bengal occurred between 1942 and 1945. At least four million people died during these three years and the famine deaths were caused by British policies.
- Famines which starved between 12 and 29 million Indians (1876) while 6.4 million hundredweight of wheat was exported to India and even relief work was discouraged. In the Oud and the Punjab which had produced record harvests 1.25m died. This is human rights!
- India – Jallianwala Bagh where British troops opened fire on thousands of unarmed protesters in 1919. (400 to 1000 protestors)
- South Africa – Boer (Afrikaaner) Genocide, 28,000 Afrikaaner women and children died in British concentration camps, 1899-1902.
- Kenya – Mau Mau revolt in the 1950s. When the Kikuyu started to rebel against the British, 320,000 were driven to concentration camps. The remaining million were put into “enclosed villages”, where they had their ears slashed, pouring paraffin and lighting bodies, some were flogged to death, and eardrums burnt with lit cigarattes, British soldiers cut of the testicles and fingers…the soldiers were told they could kill anyone they wanted “provided they were black” (Caroline Elkins)– Callum MaCrae please note for your next production!
- Tasmanian genocide – Between 1803 and 1830 the Black aborigines of Tasmania were reduced from an estimated five-thousand people to less than seventy-five. “We make no pompous display of Philanthropy. The Government must remove the natives–if not, they will be hunted down like wild beasts and destroyed!” An article in the Tasmanian Colonial Times (December 1, 1826). declaration of martial law in November 1828, Whites were authorized to kill Blacks on sight
- Malaya – unarmed villagers massacred by the Scotts Guards in 12 December 1948
- Sri Lanka – The Uva Rebellion/Third Kandyan War (1817) turned into a guerilla war with rebels being brutally massacred by the British. The British confiscated the properties of the people involved in the uprising, they killed all cattle and other animals, burnt homes, property and even the salt in their possession during the repression. Paddy fields in the area of Wellassa were all systematically destroyed (rice-bowl of Sri Lanka). The British also massacred the male population above the age of 18 years. All those who participated in the uprising were condemned as “traitors” and their properties confiscated by the government under the notification. Several governments after the independence of Sri Lanka in the past wanted to revoke this ignominious Gazette Notification, however could not take action in this regard. In 2011, the Gazette Notification issued by Governor Brownrigg was brought to Sri Lanka on the instruction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was submitted to the Parliament and was revoked with the signature of the President. This allowed all those who participated in the uprising to be recognised as National Heroes
- Sri Lanka – The Madulla massacre was one of shoot-to-kill policy leaving not a woman or child spared (9 Dec 1817)
- Sri Lanka – Matale Rebellion, also known as the ‘Rebellion of 1848′ (July 26) –
If committing such atrocities was not enough – the British goes and secretly removes all its dirty secrets, hides them (Hanslope Park) and incrementally destroys them because the British did not want them to come into the hands of the post-independence Governments. Why? The answer is pretty simple – reparation! There is justice for you.
Are these the happy memories that we should be thankful to the British for? Should Australians be happy that their ancestors are convicts that the British transported to Australia over 80years ago? Over 165,000 had been transported. British convicts were also sent to the US in similar fashion.
Well the British Empire was so vast that save for 22 countries the Brits ruled 90% of the world’s nations. By 1921, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, approximately one-quarter of the world’s population. It covered about 36.6 million km² (14.2 million square miles), about a quarter of Earth’s total land area. As a result, British influence remains strong throughout the world, such as in economic practice, legal and governmental systems, militarily, society, sports (such as cricket and football), educational systems, and the English language itself.
Whatever Britain claims to have given to the colonies can replace the manner they treated the indigenous people – the way they quelled rebellions, the famines and the concentration camps to which people in their own lands were subject to, the alien religions that were forced upon them, the division that the British created through the systems they introduced, the manner in which they nursed the indigenous people to function as Indian Sepoys – natives going against the natives – this legacy and practice continues to exist.
Now when Sri Lanka has done the impossible – eliminating a terrorist movement and terrorists who ran their international head office on UK soil openly despite UK banning the LTTE, where LTTE front organizations continue to openly carry out their agendas and despite the Sri Lankan Government rescuing close to 300,000 Tamil civilians, rehabilitating and reintegrating to society over 11,000 former LTTE fighters and having the humanity to consider LTTE child soldiers as victims and not as ruthless combatants and free over 500 of them – allegation after allegation are being cooked up against Sri Lanka.
This is getting to become a real joke now.
Britain can boast nothing of human rights for centuries. Britain and other Anglo-Americans continue to carry out Western imperialist agendas that have even meant assassinations of national leaders, installing puppet governments and now openly arming rebels that are exported to countries to create turmoil…. Is this the example that these countries are giving to the world?
Now when it is Sri Lanka’s turn to hold the CHOGM a well-choreographed plan is in place to use every communication channel to denigrate Sri Lanka.
If this is the way forward it is time the rest of the Commonwealth Nations begin to demand compensation from Britain for all its crimes against humanity for it has been long over due.
How much should the United Kingdom Government pay the world’s citizens for centuries of imperialism, wars, diseases and mass murder – $58 trillion or $8350 for every living person was a suggestion – or cut off the debt of every nation.