Cameron’s Sri Lanka cowardice
Cameron’s been talking about the need for Commonwealth countries to promote human rights.
Inevitably, he’s asked about Sri Lanka’s record. Cameron tells us sagely that we need a
proper, independent exercise to look into the whole issue of what happened, and whether there were war crimes, and who is responsible.
And that would be something more independent than the 214 page UN Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, published in March 2011?
Of course the Sri Lankan government doesn’t like the report, but they wouldn’t would they? Not when the report says thing like this (p. ii/iii):
The Government shelled on a large scale in three consecutive No Fire Zones, where it had encouraged the civilian population to concentrate, even after indicating that it would cease the use of heavy weapons. It shelled the United Nations hub, food distribution lines and near the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ships that were coming to pick up the wounded and their relatives from the beaches. It shelled in spite of its knowledge of the impact, provided by its own intelligence systems and through notification by the United Nations, the ICRC and others. Most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by Government shelling.
The Government systematically shelled hospitals on the frontlines. All hospitals in the Vanni were hit by mortars and artillery, some of them were hit repeatedly, despite the fact that their locations were well-known to the Government. The Government also systematically deprived people in the conflict zone of humanitarian aid, in the form of food and medical supplies, particularly surgical supplies, adding to their suffering. To this end, it purposely underestimated the number of civilians who remained in the conflict zone. Tens of thousands lost their lives from January to May 2009, many of whom died anonymously in the carnage of the final few days.
The Government subjected victims and survivours of the conflict to further deprivation and suffering after they left the conflict zone. Screening for suspected LTTE took place without any transparency or external scrutiny. Some of those who were separated were summarily executed, and some of the women may have been raped. Others disappeared, as recounted by their wives and relatives during the LLRC hearings. All IDPs were detained in closed camps. Massive overcrowding led to terrible conditions, breaching the basic social and economic rights of the detainees, and many lives were lost unnecessarily. Some persons in the camps were interrogated and subjected to torture. Suspected LTTE cadres were removed to other facilities, with no contact with the outside world, under conditions that made them vulnerable of further abuses.
That is not to say that the Tamil Tigers did not also carry out war crimes, but the case against the government could not really be clearer.
An ‘independent investigation’ is not needed. What is needed is leadership from people like Cameron.
Of course Sri Lanka is not an oil-producer.
(See also Channel 4’s ‘Killing Fields’ documentary.)