Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka – Response to FT’s Gideon Rachman


– by Shenali D Waduge –

The Financial Times has posted an article by Gideon Rachman who claims that foreign leaders should feel sick about accepting hospitality from a government whose human rights records are grim.  Rachman goes on to say that the “sins” of the Sri Lankan Government are not merely being ignored but are about to be “rewarded”. This certainly gives the opportunity to set the records straight.

What has the UK human rights record to really boast – “There are over 2,000 crimes recorded per 100,000 population in the U.K., making it the most violent place in Europe. How about the crimes committed by the British.

1.  Crimes of the British Raj

  • Would Mr. Rachman describe 1.8 billion violent and non-violent avoidable deaths in the period 1757-1947 committed by the British in India as a “sin”? Major British-imposed genocidal events in India included the Great Bengal Famine (1769-1770), estimated 10 million Indians murdered by the British in reprisals for the so-called Indian Mutiny. Rajendra Prasad’s book corrects history that there was no “benevolent” Raj and that British colonial rule was one of crimes against humanity!
  • British crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka : 1817 Uva Rebellion was one of shoot-to-kill policy leaving not a woman or child spared (9 Dec 1817), Matale 1848 Rebellion, the massacre of Sinhalese Buddhists protecting their lands, the plunder of land, demarcation of territory, creation of ethnic divides.

2.  Concept of Concentration Camps introduced by British not Hitler

  • Britain introduced concentration camps on a massive scale during the Boer War from 1899 to 1902. To deny the Boer guerrillas food –  28,000 Afrikaaner women and children died in British concentration camps

3.  Allied Forces treatment of Germans

  • Specifically targeted civilian populations with strategic area bombing and post—war comprehensive starvation campaign that killed 2million German POWs and 5.7million German civilians. 150 German cities was bombed between 1940 and 1945 (reference book by historian Jorg Freidrich) – cities included Kassel, Paderborn, Aachen, Swinemunde, and of course Dresden. Cities like Cologn and Essen experienced more than 250 raids each with British bombers turning ruins into ruins! Hamburg experienced the first firebomb which killed 45,000 people. Lets not forget that a staggering 87% of all bombs dropped by American planes “missed” their targets and left thousands of German civilians dead.  (2000lb cluster bomb)

4. 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

5. UK Crimes against Humanity in Iraq

We know the WMD was a lie but did the UK not get dragged into a fictitious war because Tony Blair ignored MI6 findings that Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons or WMD a year before Tony Blair agreed to commit British troops?

When accountability is the buzz word how is it that it has taken 4 unsuccessful inquiries (Foreign Affairs Committee into Iraq War / Intelligence and Security Committee / Hutton Inquiry and Butler Inquiry) launched into the Iraq War with the 5th Inquiry (Chilcot) likely to end up  an “establishment stitch-up” in the words of Premier Cameron himself!

Was it not a “sin” to send 179 British troops to their death as well as kill close to 200,000 civilians wherein 70% of all targets were Iraqi civilians and which cost UK tax payers more than £9 billion?

Is it also not a “sin” to use depleted uranium shells on a country that did not even threaten either US or UK? Is it not a “sin” to use depleted uranium which UN classifies as an illegal weapon of mass destruction and is also blamed for the Gulf War syndrome and is it not a “sin” that UK has not even assessed the British troops health conditions since they may be subject to exposure?

6. UK eviction of Chagos Islanders

Is it not a “sin” for the natives of an entire island to be chased out of home and land just because the US wanted a military base in the Indian Ocean? Didn’t UK secretly lease Diego Garcia to the US for 50 years in 1966 and the Chagossians were chased out. It was only in November 2000 that a landmark decision by the High Court ruled that the expulsion of the Chagossians was unlawful.

We would like to remind Mr. Gideon that the LTTE is an internationally proscribed terrorist organization which his own government has banned since 2002 though we are keen to know why the UK Government allowed LTTE to use London as its international head quarters, allowed LTTE to raise funds and hold events and continues to allow Adele Balasingham the nurse who first trained children as young as 7 to be child soldiers and more over commit suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule! So how would these truths add up to define the “sin” the UK has committed?

The victory of Sri Lanka over terrorism remains controversial so long as the versions promoted by elements that had been supporting the LTTE are accepted without demanding veracity of the accusations being made. With nothing to support allegations the song of “controversy” remains simply a politically motivated slandering slogan.

Mr. Rachman, what can you say when UK MPs David Miliband (former foreign secretary), Keith Vaz, Virendra Sharma, Simon Hughes, Siobhain McDonagh and a long list of other British MPs speak on behalf of the LTTE and on top of LTTE stages even though LTTE is banned in the UK, when people like US congressman Danny Davis’s trip to Sri Lanka in 2005 is funded by LTTE, Congressman Brad Sherman, Rush Holt, David Price and even Hillary takes and returns funds given by pro-LTTE groups, when Canadian MPs Bob Rae, Jason Kenney, Paul Martin are pro-LTTE speakers, when pro-LTTE MPs like Australian John Murphy, Senator Lee Rhiannon whose website is full of anti-Sri Lankan and pro-separatist propaganda even bordering on pro-Tamil Tiger (LTTE), misinformed the House and the Australian public runs contrary to what Julie Bishop MP and Scott Morrison MP – we know an international publicity campaign to smear Sri Lanka is taking place. Therefore, when you say Canada has “guts” not to send its Prime Minister we are simply not surprised!

It is people who makes things “controversial”. Just like these “humanitarian organizations” who have no credibility.

How respected are these international organizations Mr. Rachman mentions– Human Rights Watch board members are past and present US govt employees who have direct links to foreign policy lobbies in the US, HRW’s Rwanda Report was financed by Oxfam and Novib both of which are funded by UK/US/EU Governments, the bulk of its funds come from George Soros,

Amnesty International is itself clouded in controversy and when this organization accepts 50,000 Canadian dollars from a LTTE linked “charity” Canadian Tamil Congress, President of CTC, Suntharamoorthy Umasuthan, who made the donation to AI is himself a subject of terrorist investigation. Umasuthan’s associate Thavarajah Pratheepan, Deputy Chief of LTTE procurement, is in US custody. The Director of Communications of CTC in 2005, Sahil Sabaratnam (28), is serving 25 years in a US Prison for procuring weapons for the LTTE. Do we need not to elaborate any further.

Whilst International Crisis Group which claims to be “non-governmental” but 40% of its funds come from Western Governments. It is also funded by George Sores Open Society Institute, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Henry Luce Foundation and United States Institute of Peace Louise Arbour is president and CEO, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour who is alleged to be responsible for covering up the murder of the deceased President of Rwanda, the President of Burundi and many other persons who were assassinated on April 06 1994,

Human Rights Watch report “‘We will teach you a lesson’: Sexual violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces” is a 140page report published on 22 February 2013 giving 75 cases of alleged rape and sexual abuse between 2006-2012 in official and secret detention centres throughout Sri Lanka. The 140page report gives 3 accounts out of 75 cases (without verification) through a 6 year period. When Sri Lanka’s army saved 297,000 Tamil civilians braving LTTE fire and loosing 5000 Government troops in the process, are these 75 cases the supposed to be “widespread rape”. Widespread rape is what took place in Rwanda in 1994 when upto 250,000 or more women were raped in 3 months, or the more than 60,000 women raped in Sierra Leone (1991-2002), or the more than 40,000 raped in Liberia (1989-2003), or the 60,000 women raped in former Yugoslavia (1992-1995) and the 200,000 raped in the Congo.

All reports generally have a habit of being released at an international event Sri Lanka is attending or during the Geneva Human Rights Sessions – we are definitely likely to see another soap drama by Channel 4 closer to CHOGM in November this year. So everyone has to be tuned into see the sensationalism of its globe trotting Director and new human rights spokesman. It will be wonderful to see him do a film documentary on Child Soldiers of the LTTE given that the head trainer remains domiciled in UK and she would give first hand accounts of how she trained little children to shoot and kill and how to take a cyanide capsule. What a crime it is for a 7 year old child to be trained to kill and then be asked to kill oneself by a nurse – this must be terrorist euthanasia!

Reporters without Borders placed US at 32nd place of its Press Freedom report 2013 and now it emerges that the NSA has been eavesdropping on everyone so one can hardly call that “freedom”! The organization is funded by the US regime change operator National Endowment for Democracy

There is also the accusation that an investigative journalist was shot at his home without stating that it had nothing to do with his profession but was a personal matter – such type of misadventures has been part and parcel of the large numbers of supposed “casualties” that have become tied to the sneer campaign against Sri Lanka wherein “journalists” are able to suddenly “disappear” without applying for visas and find themselves in the West happily ready to tarnish their land of birth for personal gain.

Victory of LTTE terrorism

What no one can deny is that it was ONLY AFTER courting the LTTE through over 5 peace talks, numerous ceasefires and peace negotiations and 30 years of terrorism much of which was suicide and targeted at civilians that the decision was taken that LTTE terrorists had to be militarily defeated to protect 20million populace from becoming further prey. Therefore, the evidence against the LTTE suffices for any military intervention unlike the manner the US and UK and NATO allies have invaded nations and caused colossal damage and loss of life without prior negotiations, investigation, evidence or UN mandate. So when bombs have not gone off in 4 years in Sri Lanka and people can leave their homes without fear of not returning compared to Madeleine Albright who said “the price was worth it” inspite of thousands of Iraqi children deaths from sanctions, which logic is brutal?

Can Mr. Rachman or any other explain what type of “sin”  it is to save over 295,000 Tamil civilians, to grant amnesty to over 500 former LTTE child soldiers, to save over 12000 former LTTE combatants and run them through an indigenous rehabilitation program and reintegrate them to society where save for 200 who will face trial for their terrorist activities all others are now involved in a livelihood some of whom are even absorbed into the country’s civil defense forces whilst all the refugees are now picking up their lives in their new homes too. What has UK and US been able to show in terms of resettlement, rehabilitation or even reintegration over decades of illegal occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, millions remain IDPs inside Iraq or refugees in adjoining nations, infrastructure remains damaged and whilst two areas which were LTTE stronghold has been given electricity after 3 decades Iraqi people still have electricity for 1 or 2 hours a day while many suffer without portable drinking water…. As a Third World developing nation our records supersedes that of the UK therefore Mr. Rachman is totally out of line for insinuating that any foreign leader should be sick to attend the CHOGM summit, it is we who should be asking if we can do what we have in 4 years why can’t US or UK?

As for the chides that Mr. Rachman has taken during the rest of the article – all we can ask is does “democratization” mean that every nation has to follow the Western culture, precepts, laws and practices ONLY? Does it become “undemocratic” to forge links with non-Western nations because these ties end up strategic bottlenecks for Western spheres of influence and obstacles to Western hegemony?

The citizens of Sri Lanka are absolutely happy if the entire Commonwealth is disbanded altogether because far more than the former colonies the British Raj has sins to pay for and it is now long overdue that reparations for these crimes that have been committed are paid just as the Mau Mau rebellions got justice for the injustices after 60 years.

Since we are on the subject of racism it is good for all to review how the present day international laws have emerged to showcase Eurocentric and colonial mentality still prevails.

If we are talking about morals the Anglo-American nexus has much to be embarrassed about and that includes neocolonialism that takes place using IMF, World Bank, neoconservatives and conglomerates that continue to plunder nations, the arms profiteering nexus, the global pharmaceutical giants all linked up to ensure the Third World remains in debt forever.

Therefore, Mr. Rachman may project a very cynical atmosphere against Sri Lanka but we would rather have a decent debate if morality and sins are what is to be argued and we are prepared to face these accusations so long as they come with evidence and if UK is ready to come clean on its crimes committed over centuries too. The former colonies are the victims of colonial rulers and continue to be under neocolonials.

The list of UK crimes against humanity is a long one and a Bill for these crimes need to be sent for true accountability to take place. If at all anyone needs to be feeling sick with disgust it is the former colonies and not the British Raj!

Yet we are a nation known for its compassion and hospitality!