War Crimes: UK playing politics at SL’s expense


(Part II)

by Shamindra Ferdinando
Continued from Friday (June 18)

Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice is one among many HR groups launched in the wake of Sri Lanka’s triumph over the LTTE in May 2009.

The group targeted the government on humanitarian and HR fronts. The Sri Lanka Campaign also declared its affiliation with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group and Reporters sans Borders.

Unfortunately, Sri Lanka Campaign came into operation three months after the Sri Lankan military finished off the LTTE on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon.

Had it been launched at least at the beginning of the Norwegian-led peace process in early 2002, it could have advised the LTTE not to quit negotiations, thereby saved the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government. Maybe Sri Lanka Campaign could have prevented the LTTE from assassinating Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in Aug 2005 and attempts on the lives of the then Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in April and Dec, 2006, respectively.

With last Tuesday’s telecast of ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, the Sri Lanka Campaign stepped-up its campaign with an on-line report datelined June 17 praising the UK-based Channel 4 for revealing what it called the full scale of Sri Lanka’s hell on earth.

The Sri Lanka Campaign reported British Prime Minister David Cameron calling for an investigation into war crime allegations as the Foreign Commonwealth Office Minister Alistair Burt says "convincing evidence of violations of human rights," was aired in the Channel 4 documentary ‘Killing Fields’.

The Conservative MP Burt went on to say that Sri Lanka should be ready to face the consequences, unless tangible action was taken on war crime allegations before end of this year.

Cameron has thrown his weight behind the anti-Sri Lanka movement. While accepting Cameron’s right to support a war crimes probe on the basis of the ‘Darusman Report’ targeting Sri Lanka, it would be pertinent to ask the British Premier whether he would act on British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s criticism over the UK’s role in the Iraq war.

Channel 4 and Sri Lanka Campaign should raise the issue with Cameron, while they press Sri Lanka over war crimes. They should pressure UNSG Ban Ki-moon, who secured a second term to reactivate the ‘Darusman’ commission to investigate the British Deputy PMallegations made a year ago.

During a heated exchange with former British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg declared the Iraq war illegal. Nothing could be as ridiculous as Clegg’s subsequent declaration that he made the statement in a personal capacity. CLEGG WAS RESPONDING TO STRAW ON BEHALF OF CAMERON WHO WAS ON AN OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE US.

Shortly before that slip-up, Clegg threw the government’s position concerning the legality of the Iraq war into confusion when, at the end of heated exchanges with Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time of the war, Clegg said: "We may have to wait for his memoirs, but perhaps one day he will account for his role in the most disastrous decision of all: the illegal invasion of Iraq."

The Sri Lanka Campaign had declared that the global community should force the UN to hold Sri Lanka accountable for war crimes. The group warned failure on the part of the UN to punish Sri Lanka, would strengthen the hands of repressive governments. The Sri Lanka Campaign said: "Now it is the responsibility of the international community to harness the power and horror of ‘Sri Lanka Killing Fields’, to act and demand a war crimes investigation by the UN. For there are global repercussions from the way Sri Lanka’s government is held accountable for its actions. As the film’s director states ‘if the UN fails yet again, the message to every tyrant and repressive government will be clear: if you want to kill your own people with impunity, you will probably get away with it."

So, the Sri Lanka Campaign is only worried about tyrants and repressive governments killing their own people. That conveniently leaves those who fund HR groups to cause death and destruction among other nations. The case of Iraq, invaded by US-British led forces hunting for non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), is a case in point.

Sri Lanka Campaign shouldn’t hesitate to reveal its donors, or at least say whether its donors were the same as those who fund the International Crisis Group and Amnesty International.

Let me briefly explain how ICG, which is also out for Sri Lanka’s blood, funds its operations. I picked ICG as Sri Lanka Campaign considered the high profile grouping of a like-minded organization. Like other HR groups, ICG, too, talks of preserving its political independence and credibility, though primarily depending on governments and major foundations to sustain its operations. According to ICG’s financial disclosure for 2009, it had received 54 per cent of its income from governments, 26 per cent of institutional foundations and 20 per cent from individuals and the corporate sector. The following are the governments and intergovernmental institutions

(supporting Crisis Group

in 2010-11)

*Australian Agency for International

*Australian Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade

*Austrian Development Agency

* Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

*Foreign Affairs and International
Trade Canada

* Canadian International
Development Agency

* Canadian International
Development Research Centre

* Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign

* European Commission

* Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* German Foreign Office

* Irish Aid

* Japan International Cooperation

*Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign

* New Zealand Agency for
International Development  

* Principality of Liechtenstein

* Royal Norwegian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs

* Slovenian Ministry of Foreign

* Swedish International
Development Agency 

* Swedish Ministry for Foreign

* Swiss Federal Department of
Foreign Affairs

* Turkish Ministry of Foreign

* United Kingdom Department for
International Development

* UK Economic and Social Research

* United States Agency for
International Development

Institutional Foundations 

(supporting Crisis Group in 2010-11)

* Adessium Foundation 

* Carnegie Corporation of New York

* The Charitable Foundation

* Clifford Chance Foundation

* The Elders Foundation

* Humanity United

* Hunt Alternatives Fund

* Jewish World Watch

* John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation

* Korea Foundation

* Open Society Institute

* Ploughshares Fund

* Rockefeller Brothers Fund

* Sigrid Rausing Trust

* The Connect U.S. Fund 

* VIVA Trust

* William and Flora Hewlett

Today HR is big business, with HR groups competing with each other for a bigger slice of overseas funding. Sri Lanka is a case in point. Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan state, in spite of eradicating LTTE terrorism had pathetically failed to put an end to ‘NGO business’ carried on at the expense of the country. Obviously, the Colombo-based embassies dealing with some of these NGOs are involved in the racket.

None of those shedding crocodile tears for Tamil speaking people today bothered to challenge the LTTE when it set the stage for war in Apr 2003. Those who live off well with foreign funds turned a blind eye as the LTTE stepped-up recruitment of children, quit the negotiating table in Apr 2003, targeted the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) personnel and engaged in a series of high profile attacks, including an attempt to sink a troop ship carrying 700 personnel off Mullaitivu in May 2006. They remained silent when the LTTE engineered Ranil Wickremesinghe’s defeat at the Nov 2005 presidential polls to help Mahinda Rajapaksa win. The LTTE and a section of NGOs, which closely worked with the group, believed that President Rajapaksa could be easily isolated, attacked and finished off. They didn’t care for human rights as long as they felt the LTTE could overwhelm the Sri Lankan military and remained confident until the military seized Kilinochchi on Jan 1, 2009. Just a week before the LTTE fled Kilinochchi, having failed to halt the army advance in spite of carrying out chemical attacks, a section of the media believed the LTTE could inflict a massive loss on the army in Kilinochchi, leading to the collapse of the entire Vanni front.

The National Peace Council (NPC), which is one the major recipients of foreign funds, particularly from Norway, went to the extent of justifying the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. The NPC called the assassination, tragic but inevitable, while others of NPC’s ilk remained silent. Both donors and recipients didn’t want to offend the LTTE, which carried out its terror campaign while globetrotting, courtesy the Norwegians. Thanks to Wiki Leaks, some of the sordid details of the LTTE relationship with some of the Co-Chairs to the so-called peace process are now in the public domain today. Wiki Leaks revelations pertaining to Sri Lanka is evidence what ‘The Island’ had said about the peace initiative is true.

Continued on Wednesday

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...