West’s cool reception to Sri Lanka’s victoryPosted on August 5th, 2009 No comments
By: Dr. Chandrani Gunaratna
31 May 2009 -Over the weekend, Sri Lanka, the tiny third world nation made history when it wiped out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a rebel outfit that pioneered the suicide jacket and got the honor from the FBI as the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world.
In history armed rebellions ended either when warring parties reached a ceasefire or some other power sharing agreement as in the case of IRA and PLO or by cession as in Kosovo or Chechnya. Never in the recent history has a democratic government been able to completely crush a separatist terrorist organization without ceding the country as Sri Lanka had successfully managed to do this past weekend.
Yet the Western world is silent on this achievement.
The West which spearheads campaigns against terrorism across the globe and bombs far corners of the world in the name of ‘war on terror’ is however yet to acknowledge Sri Lanka’s victory against the LTTE, the home-grown terrorist group that was responsible for 70,000 deaths and brought unimaginable misery to the 20 million people in the country for 30 years with suicide bombings, political assassinations, massacres and destruction of property and infrastructure.
The superpowers of the West, the US, the UK, and the European Union wanted Sri Lanka to halt the military operations against the LTTE, declare a truce, and negotiate a solution with the LTTE so that it can resurrect and prolong the misery for another three decades. These countries even urged the Sri Lankan government to let the LTTE terrorist leaders to surrender to a third party.
If the Sri Lankan government doesn’t heed the calls to cease military operations, Sri Lankan leaders would be charged with war crimes, they threatened. Or worse yet, they threatened to take hostage the economic relief the country is seeking for its rehabilitation and reconstruction of the war-savaged land.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ganged up with the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to oppose the two billion dollar loan Sri Lanka was seeking from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“We think that it is not an appropriate time to consider that (loan) until there is a resolution of the conflict,” Clinton, who considered the LTTE as freedom fighters during her presidential campaign, declared.
The Sri Lankan government with its President’s determination to crush the LTTE’s remained resilient amid that extraordinary pressure and continued its humanitarian operation to extract the civilians who were held against their will. Hence the West’s cool reaction to Sri Lanka’s victory.
The powers, that initiated a war and continuing for years in Iraq in search of non existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and brought death to over a million civilians wanted to throw a lifeline to the LTTE. If Sri Lanka gave into the pressure and declared a ceasefire the untold suffering would have continued for another three decades. Perhaps the West would have found the missing WMDs in Sri Lanka’s Eelam land then.
It is ironic that US was trying to curtail Sri Lanka’s efforts to free the country from LTTE terror while the US, being the World’s police is leading anti-terror campaigns against Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the support from Britain. Yet when it comes to LTTE the attitude was completely the opposite. The double standard these powers have shown was clearly visible.
Not only the economic relief is held as ransom, but the two countries together with the European Union and backed by the human right groups, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, two groups sympathetic to the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora, also proposed to bring war crimes charges against the President and the country’s military leaders.
On Monday (May 18) the European Union called for an independent inquiry to bring the alleged violators of the international humanitarian law and human rights law to justice.
The Sri Lankan government’s military offensive against the LTTE terrorists is responsible for the death and injuries of 50,000 Tamil civilians who were held as human shields by the LTTE and fired upon when they tried to flee, the Western powers said.
According to them, the military offensive on April 20th that allowed over 115,000 or so civilians to flee the LTTE terror and reach the safety of the welfare villages in government controlled areas is a war crime. Rescuing another 72,000 civilians during the military operations in the past four days is also a war crime by the Western standards whereas sending drones and bombing border villages of Pakistan’s Swat Valley causing deaths of hundreds of civilians is war against terror, not a crime against humanity.
Reportedly there have been 65 to 85 Afghanistan-based US drone attacks on Pakistan during the past three years, killing about 780 civilians and about 50 alleged terrorists. For US and other Western backers this is inevitable collateral damage and not war crimes. The Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International are mum on these civilian casualties.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, either still unaware that the Sri Lankan troops have evacuated over 70,000 civilians, about 20,000 more than UN and everyone else expected or hopeful that LTTE still has a chance for survival, on Monday in Brussels talked about the “humanitarian situation for those unknown numbers who are still trapped in the conflict zone, as well as those displaced persons who are in refugee camps.”
Pro-LTTE protestors waving the red tiger flag of the banned LTTE block highways, attack Sri Lankan temples and missions brings traffic to standstill and disrupt the daily lives of the their citizens, with impunity. These pillars of democracies have turned a blind eye on those unlawful demonstrations.
Despite the death of LTTE in Sri Lanka, the Eelam movement is gaining grounds in these Western countries as the continuing pro-LTTE demonstrations in their cities show due to their unfriendly attitude towards the government of Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government needs to develop conditions in the country so that another LTTE may not rise from the ashes in the no-fire zone. Without delay the government needs to meet the aspirations of those rescued hostages, who trusted the government and made the crossover, along with a long term political solution.
As Secretary Clinton has already illustrated with the conditions on the IMF loan, the West can greatly influence Sri Lanka’s future and economic development if Sri Lanka has to solely depend on these countries for assistance. Sri Lanka needs to strengthen ties with the countries like Russia, China, Japan and India who supported the country at all times while forming new bonds with other nations in the Europe, Middle East and Asia.
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