2ND LEAD

Britain sold arms despite Sri Lanka’s abuses – The Times

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 June 2009, 13:01 GMT]
Britain sold £13.6m worth of arms to Sri Lanka in the past three years despite Colombo’s widespread abuse of human rights, The Times newspaper reported. Whilst the United States suspended arms sales in 2008, Britain, Bulgaria and Slovakia continued to arm President Mahinda Rajapakse’s ultra-nationalist government. The sales contravened the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports that restricts business with countries facing internal conflicts or with poor human rights records and a history of violating international law. The arms were sold as international ceasefire monitors, human rights groups and Tamil Diaspora repeatedly protested Sri Lanka’s rights abuses.

The sales were cleared despite the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, which restricts transfers to countries facing internal conflicts or with poor human rights records and a history of violating international law.

The paper also pointed out that the weapons were approved while the EU called for peace talks in Sri Lanka, saying that it did not support a military solution, and expressing concerns about human rights abuses after the collapse of a 2002 ceasefire.

The approval of the sales raises the question of whether EU supplied weapons were used in the last five months during which UN officials estimate that 20,000 civilians were killed.

The answer is almost certainly yes.

Sri Lanka’s military fired repeated salvos of rockets from Multi-Barreled Rocket Launchers (MBRLs) as well as artillery howitzers at hundreds of thousands of people crammed into narrow areas designated ‘safe zones’.

British MPs and MEPs, as well as activists against the arms trade, said that the EU should have done the same as the United States in suspending arms sales as early as 2006, when the ceasefire began to unravel.

“The EU had an obligation not to supply these things,” said Malcolm Bruce, a Liberal Democrat MP who visited Sri Lanka last month. “There were too many unanswered questions. With hindsight, Britain’s sales did violate the EU code of conduct.”

The EU Code of Conduct became legally binding in December, but until then it was up to member states to decide whether the criteria applied to any given arms sale.

Interestingly, Britain had disputed Slovakia’s decision to supply rockets to Sri Lanka but approved its own arms sales at the time.

Britain approved commercial sales of more than £13.6 million of equipment including armoured vehicles, machinegun components and semiautomatic pistols, according to official records.

Slovakia provided 10,000 rockets worth £1.1 million, while Bulgaria approved sales of guns and ammunition worth £1.75 million, according to EU documents and officials.

According to research conducted by The Times, arms sales approved by the British Government included:

2008: £4 million of equipment including military sonar detection items and components; components for aircraft military communications equipment and military communications equipment

2007: £1 million of equipment including ejector seats, grenades, ground vehicle military communications equipment, military parachutes

2006: £8.6 million of equipment including 50 semi-automatic pistols, components for combat aircraft, military aircraft communications equipment, armoured all-wheel-drive vehicles, components for general purpose and heavy machineguns, small arms ammunition

 

Latest 15 Reports
01.07.20 13:22  
New secret unit among four SL military and police squads competing to arrest Tamil youth in North
30.06.20 22:10  
Tamils blocked from accessing properties near SL Navy training base in Champoor, Trincomalee
29.06.20 23:29   Photo
Moragoda advising Gotabaya prompts Sinhala parties to scrap Provincial Councils
28.06.20 22:06  
India privileging BRIC/RIC over Quad ‘discordant’, says former US top diplomat
27.06.20 22:11  
Indo-Pacific expert wants US to seek opportunities in ‘Sri Lanka’
26.06.20 21:24  
Russia steps up influence on New Delhi to uphold “multilateralism” against US “rules-based order”
25.06.20 23:53  
Pompeo talks about US reposturing troops, mentions India, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia
24.06.20 23:36   Photo
Devananda circumvents court order, manipulates Jaffna fishers to allow poachers from South
23.06.20 22:03  
Sinhala encroachment of pastureland continues unabated in Batticaloa
22.06.20 18:17  
SLMC Chairman: Time for joint Tamil-Muslim efforts
21.06.20 23:11   Photo
Ex-councillor: Poverty-stricken Tamils at receiving end of SL military brutality in North
20.06.20 23:53   Photo
Tamil man killed, Sinhala Army opens fire at motorbike rider at Mukamaalai in North
19.06.20 23:30  
Dr Amir Ali: SL Archaeology aims to obliterate Tamil traces, shrink territory of Muslims in East
18.06.20 21:02  
Colombo steps up surveillance harassment on organisations operating in East
17.06.20 22:12  
SL military cordons off Jaffna islet with war-time like harassment, families fear reprisals
 
Find this article at:
http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=29507