War Crimes: UK recommending sanctions for Sri Lanka while 7 UK firms supply banned cluster bombs!
Shenali D Waduge
It is strange that British lawmakers have seen fit to urge EU to declare sanctions against Sri Lanka and remove preferential trade tariffs for ALLEGED crimes which 5 years on have not gone beyond speculation, finger pointing and hyped media propaganda only.
Sri Lanka has reasons not to cooperate
The Sri Lanka Government has decided not to cooperate by giving concrete reasons for not doing so. These reasons hardly get media space and the international public is often unaware why Sri Lanka is not cooperating. Nevertheless, the recent arrest of an un-rehabilitated LTTE cadre who had been collecting signatures on blank submission forms instructed by a Tamil National Alliance member showcases a sinister plot to submit fraudulent ‘witness’ accounts as genuine submissions. The OHCHR/OISL or the UNHRC have not yet revealed how many such forms they have received neither did they say they have been receiving fraudulent forms when they are supposed to have trained staff able to detect fraud submissions. Bottomline is, if not for the arrest we would not have known that false witness accounts have been sent and accepted by the OISL. Additionally, there is an issue of OISL accepting submissions beyond the deadline and all these add up to a very genuine concern for hanky panky taking place within the OHRHC and its investigation.
While the UK and EU may juggle the thought of declaring sanctions what needs to be made clear is the question of who these nations end up victimising when they do impose sanctions. Did Saddam Hussein ever get affected by sanctions and the dirty truths of the UN food-for-oil program revealed that the International Community and Saddam together ruined the lives of so many Iraqi civilians and babies. Is this the formula being repeated for Sri Lanka?
As for human rights violations and war crimes did the UK not train, fund and transport mercenaries to topple Libyan leader Gaddafi and are doing the same to topple President Assad of Syria. To run through accounts of British human rights violations would be an arduous task and would need to start from British colonial crimes.
None the less, the very nation that is recommending sanctions against Sri Lanka for human rights violations cannot ignore that 7 British companies produce internationally banned cluster bombs that have been used in Syria, Ukraine. These cluster bombs continue to cause civilian casualties even 50 years after they were dropped in Laos!
Cluster bombs are banned because they cannot identify between civilians and combatants. After they are detonated they leave dangerous unexploded materials that can mail and kill innocent civilians even decades after they have hit the ground. 115 states signed the 2008 Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions which prohibits the use, production, transit and stockpiling of these violent armaments though a clause in the treaty legally permits to invest in companies that produce these internationally banned weapons. Britain, EU and US benefit from this indirect investment and it has become a £2.8billion investment. If it is illegal to directly finance cluster bombs in UK how morally correct is it to indirectly finance it which UK regards as not illegal?
These UK companies are named as
· Aberdeen Asset Management
· Fidelity Worldwide Investment (headquartered in Bermuda)
· Old Mutual
· Standard Life
(source Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions report by Dutch peace and security NGO PAX)
UK that takes a moral high ground in speaking on human rights, war crimes etc with 7 companies producing cluster bombs may like to take note that 94% of cluster bomb casualties are children.
While UK promotes itself on the global platform as a crusader of righteousness it indirectly finances the production of dangerous and harmful bombs!
UK is reminded that more than 380million bombs were dropped in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s and these bombs continue to kill civilians of these countries decades later. Cluster bombs have been used in all of the ‘humanitarian’ interventions that the UK along with US have instigated.
Returning to Sri Lanka’s case other than accusations made by LTTE groups and people associated with LTTE groups there is nothing available to substantiate the allegations being made. The OHCHR office and even the previous Panel of Expert report quotes from pro-LTTE sources and described LTTE as ‘disciplined’ – tell that to the thousands of people LTTE killed including its own injured cadres! Moreover there is a legal question as to how an advisory panel appointed in private capacity by the UNSG could be the basis for UNHRC resolutions against Sri Lanka. Leaving all that aside, on what basis can the Sri Lankan Government be held responsible for killings that have no bodies, no skeletons and no names and statistically cannot be proven that such numbers even existed!
As for UK war crimes their journey to count the crimes committed over centuries need to first start with colonial rule, the travesty of justice to natives, take over and plunder of lands, property, artifacts, rape of women, murder of men, livestock, means of living. Mass murder engineered famines in colonial India is said to have caused the loss of close to 30million colonial Indian lives (Mike Davis). It was only recently that the Mau Mau tribes of Kenya won a landmark case and justice again for British crimes. UK is now being investigate in the ICC for crimes in Iraq as well. http://www.britisharmykillings.org.uk/page/113/The-Issuess This site provides much more information for those desiring to go through the scale of crimes UK has been involved in.
The same country harping on international investigation and accountability took 38 years for accountability for ‘Blood Sunday’ massacre that took place in 1972 upon unarmed civilians! Incidentally the commission of inquiry into the 1972 took place in 1998, twenty six years after the murders. Thereafter, the inquiry took another 12 years to make its deliberations.
What the world needs to first ask itself is what did they do to stop LTTE killings that took place for 30 years? Yes, there were ceasefires, peace talks, negotiations but did they lead anywhere? Did they stop killings? No. Then there were international bans but what a laugh these bans were when LTTE ran its international offices openly and without fear ran its websites officially referring to London as its international headquarters and the LTTE’s international brains were living and operating from the UK without any issues from the UK Government while the LTTE fronts were establishing themselves as charities and human rights organizations and appearing as human rights champions while the funds they collected from fooling the international populace with bogus footage and editing films filled the LTTE kitty to enable them to purchase arms and kill people. Now all this went on and people died, homes were mourning the dead and even Tamil low caste civilians ended up providing the children and manpower for the LTTE ground force. People have not yet come to terms with the fact that LTTE ran its movement using low caste poor Tamils and these were the people that suffered. Their submissions to the UN Panel will reveal in what ways the LTTE killed Tamils, kidnapped children, enforced compulsory military training for all civilians in the Vanni (in legal terms making them combatants), pretending to give clothes to 10 year olds but placing suicide vests on them and blowing them up by remote control… now these are just a handful of witness accounts for which Tamil people are prepared to come before the Panel and give evidence against LTTE.
The threats of sanctions cannot ignore that there are concrete evidence against the LTTE and who will be held accountable for these crimes? It has to be the living LTTE heads and with the GOSL declaring 16 organizations and their heads as LTTE fronts they would need to take the blame and be held responsible.