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Another Day, Another Travesty of International Justice: Things You Won’t Learn From Sri Lanka

Publié le 28 mai, 2009 | Pas de commentaires
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Well, well, well.

Since my last post, I have been trying to write something meaningful about Sri Lanka, but something told me I would have to wait to find the correct angle from which to view that mess and find something true in it.

Unfortunately, unless you want to go read the 30-year history of the war between the Sri Lankan Army and the Tamil Tigers, there’s nothing I can say that won’t sound like the typical generalizations that are made in a we-did-this/but-they-did-that conflict, though the levels of brutal violence are staggering.

And like many other long wars of this sort, the terrorist-style violence occurred on both sides. So when earlier this month, after the Sri Lankan Army literally backed the Tamils up against the sea and massacred them wholesale, killing their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, (whose body, like Saddam Hussein’s, was displayed by the Sri Lankan Army like a war trophy) – while all I could read about in every international paper was the “victory” and “triumph” of the Sri Lankan Army – I knew I’d have to wait.

I waited another week. And naturally, the U.N. finally brought up the human rights violations that everyone who was paying any attention at all already knew about – committed by the Army as well as the Tamil rebels. And as I knew would also happen, today they are rescinding their allegations and dropping the investigation.

This is, in the most cynical way, called a news cycle for a conflict the West cannot interfere in, let alone solve.

We have seen it again and again and again: a former colony is given sovereignty, its borders drawn according to the arbitrary conveniences of western alliances, in total denial of the existence of native peoples and their societies. The minority group – which until that time had co-existed – is now forced to fight for its human right to exist, and are immediately branded guerillas, rebels, insurgents, et cetera. The state-backed soldiers, however, in order to fight the increasingly strategic enemy, resort to the same terrorist tactics until the Army and those they are fighting have committed so many atrocities against each other, they are barely distinguishable.

While this fighting is going on, the U.N. sleeps. No one wants to bear witness to what “our SOBs” are doing, and the media is shut out. Until after the decisive “victory”, proclaimed when the killing that should never have been allowed to happen has instead been allowed to run its bloody course.

Amesty International calls for an “investigation” by the U.N., which is subsequently settled in favor of the establishment. Remaining ‘rebels’ are now reviled refugees, or stuck in the country to live haunted, devastated lives. Things aren’t so great on the other side, either, but hey, it’s “settled”.

“Sri Lanka last night scored a major propaganda coup when the UN human rights council praised its victory over the Tamil Tigers and refused calls to investigate allegations of war crimes by both sides in the final chapter of a bloody 25-year conflict. In a shock move, which dismayed western nations critical of Sri Lanka’s approach, the island’s diplomats succeeded in lobbying enough of its south Asian allies to pass a resolution describing the conflict as a ‘domestic matter that doesn’t warrant outside interference’.”

Far from being “shocked”, I have seen this pattern so often, I simply knew if I waited a few weeks, it would play out like clockwork, and it has. They pay the usual lip-service by calling it a “propaganda coup”, but think about it: in the last four years alone we have seen this happen over and over, in Iraq, in Pakistan, and most devastatingly in the recent raids by Israel against Lebanon and Gaza. These countries are all propped up by the U.S. and their allies, while the civilian populations are made to endure every indignity and hardship, and any effort to resist their own subjugation to injustice is deemed illegal and therefore subject to the harshest retaliation.

The U.N. then does an “investigation” and finds the government-backed perpetrators of atrocities “not guilty”. What’s worse, they stand back while it’s happening and then claim shock and horror, but time and time again the pattern is not only repeated but reinforced. (see my Feb/March, Nov 08 archives)

Why do the newspapers now consent to call Burma, “Myanmar”? A coup d’etat by a military junta in a former colony is left almost unmolested to commit untold thousands of murders and detentions, and we are recognizing that as a “government”? The Chinese in Tibet, ethnic cleansing in Eritria, unspeakable acts by the Army in Congo – and choosing sides means backing the western-approved “government”, no matter how loosely committed to « democracy » they are, arming them to the teeth and then sitting back and waiting for “triumph” over the “rebels”, i.e. the civilians who have been systematically brutalized into organizing a resistance.

I saw it coming – the cynical cycle of the ramped up arming of an uncontrollable state-backed Army against a ruthless but desperate group of civilian guerillas, followed by a “victorious triumph”, a spurious “investigation”, and the announcing of all charges dropped – in Sri Lanka; if you care to take notice of it in other similar conflicts, you will too.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/20/world/asia/20lanka.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090518/wl_afp/srilankaunrest
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/18/tamil-tigers-killed-sri-lanka
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tamil-leaders-killed-as-they-tried-to-surrender-1687790.html

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article31205
http://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=2313
http://alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LQ944700.htm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/28/sri-lanka-un-war-crimes-investigation

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