Feature Article

Russia, UK protect Colombo's international impunity

[TamilNet, Sunday, 08 February 2009, 06:00 GMT]
While world powers look apparently condemning Colombo for its culture of impunity allowing armed forces and other elements to commit human rights violations, some among the very powers are engaged covertly in ensuring international impunity to Colombo's war crimes by dodging discussion on Sri Lanka in the apex international security system. During the closed-door meetings of the UN Security Council this week, when Mexico moved for briefing on Sri Lankan situation, Russia reportedly blocked it saying it was not in the agenda. When the British Representative to the UN was asked why Sri Lanka was not in the deliberations, while Sudan was in, the answer was that the situation was entirely different in Sri Lanka where "proscribed" Tamil Tigers were long "blighting" the government and that has to be brought to an end.

The British Permanent Representative to the UN, Sir John Sawers, while briefing on the Security Council’s deliberations on Sudan on Thursday, was asked by the media to contrast Sudan’s attack on rebel held town with what has been happening in Sri Lanka.

“What the UN-UK position is on that? Why hasn’t it been raised in the Security Council”, asked a reporter.

Sir John Sawers
Sir John Sawers, permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the UN
“Well, the situation in Sri Lanka is entirely different. We do have concerns about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. We have urged the government of Sri Lanka to have everything in count to bring an end to the hostilities so that humanitarian relief can be extended to the civilians.. (a word not audible). The Tamil Tigers are a proscribed organisation and the government of Sri Lanka has long been blighted by the activities of the Tamil Tigers. We want these to be brought to an end. And we want the people of the affected areas in Sri Lanka to be able to have full access to the humanitarian relief”, replied the British ambassador to the UN.

On the role played by Russia, the Inner City Press reported on Thursday that “While in Sri Lanka the army's assault on Tamil Tiger areas continues, in closed door UN Security Council meetings this week Mexico asked that the Council get a briefing about the situation in Sri Lanka. The Permanent Representative of a Council member favoring Mexico's request tells Inner City Press that the request was formally opposed by Russia, which argued that Sri Lanka is not on the agenda of the Council. "Russia in January tries to intimidate the new Council members," this Ambassador told Inner City Press.”

“This month's Council president, Yukio Takasu, said he would engage the two sides -- Mexico and Russia -- in bilateral consultations. Now Mexico has said it will raise the issue again next week. But on the ground, how many more civilians will be dead”, wrote Inner City Press.

Indian interests being looked after in the UN Security council by Russia is a long convention.

But the British position of sidelining the gravity of current genocidal situation faced by Tamil civilians as an internal affair, not needed to be brought to the attention of UN has caused serious concerns in Tamil circles.

“What is taking place in the island of Sri Lanka for decades is a clear case of a liberation war of the Tamil ethnicity, responded with genocide by the Sinhala government. Reducing it as something between a ‘proscribed’ organization and a government ‘blighted’ by it, doesn’t make any difference in outlook between Colombo and Britain”, commented a Colombo based Tamil political analyst.

“In fact, barring the tone, mannerism and choice of words, the British ambassador to UN says exactly the same thing what Colombo’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said to BBC on Tuesday that the war in Sri Lanka is only between ‘terrorists’ and the people who fight against terrorists”, he added.

The Colombo government’s open contempt and ridicule to international concerns about the human rights situation in the island as demonstrated in the Tuesday’s interview of Gotabhaya to BBC is widely seen as arising from the international impunity enjoyed by it, thanks to the British government and many others.

On Thursday in the British parliament, State Minister of Foreign Affairs came hard on Colombo's 'corrosive culture of impunity' allowing armed forces and other elements to commit human rights violations and said excuses for firing on hospitals unacceptable. But on the same day the British ambassador at UN subtly stood for Colombo’s international impunity. On Friday Sri Lanka bombed and completely destroyed a hospital in Vanni, killing 61 patients and injuring many.

The crisis in the island for some years now, has got into a situation in which every world power has poked its nose and has contributed. Veiling this international dimension, which the crisis has already acquired through power politics, and blocking open international deliberations are seen by analysts as efforts to keep any indictment that may arise from the dirty work to get confined only to the Colombo government.

The desire of some powers to keep the crisis confined to their backyard or to serve to their economic and strategic interests, even if they have no remedy to the crisis, is seen as another reason.

However, the attitude of the powers at the apex body of global security only show that they still have not made up their minds to alter the equations in respect to a long standing national liberation struggle in South Asia that has entered into a threatening phase of physical and structural genocide, mainly due to biased application of a discredited policy by them in the last few years that tilted the balance in the island.

They seem to be thinking of bulldozing the crisis and implementing the new global order, even if it is going to be trial and error. Hence their course is going to be largely directed by ground-realities twisting their arms, and the best show in this regard is awaited from the Colombo government, said the political analyst.



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