Feature Article

Leaked documents reveal UK lacking practical approach and India unwilling

[TamilNet, Saturday, 04 December 2010, 09:38 GMT]
Though there was recognition for the need of a political solution and intention to stop human tragedy, lack of insight on the nature of the Sri Lankan state, lack of a serious and practical policy in handling a state like Sri Lanka long known for its chauvinism and lack of perspectives in addressing a national question as a national question, paved way for the failure of the Miliband-led British foreign policy on the war in the island, reveals leaked classified documents of British Foreign Office by Wikileaks. The documents also reveal that the British saw India “ambivalent and unwilling to undertake any heavy lifting on Sri Lanka” during the last days of the war. In this regard, a British diplomat confessed that he had trouble in getting meetings with India’s political level.

British Foreign Office Sri Lanka team leader Tim Waite and Desk Officer Sharon Diaz said on May 7, 2009 that the UK plans to continue its “concerted drive to achieve a fully inclusive political settlement.”

UK hoped that “sustained pressure” would work.

The British idea was threefold: “To highlight the need to bring the conflict to an end in a way that minimizes further civilian casualties; to press the case for the humanitarian relief effort to be ratcheted up, as the UN and EU have been calling for; and to make clear the need for a long-term political settlement that meets the aspirations of all communities in Sri Lanka.”

Miliband and Kouchner planned to jointly host an “informal” meeting in New York on the margins of the Middle East meetings on May 11, 2009 (NFI).

On the efforts of British Prime Minister’s special envoy Des Brown on Sri Lanka, the classified documents said: Browne is currently in India, where Waite confessed he was having trouble getting meetings with the Indian Government’s political level, presumably because of the elections underway. Waite characterized the Indians as “ambivalent” and unwilling to undertake any heavy lifting on Sri Lanka because it was “too sensitive” an issue during the elections.

What happened in mid May 2009, was Indian unwillingness and the West’s lack of a serious practical approach to the crisis permitting genocidal Colombo to stage the ’devil dance’, commented Tamil political observers in UK.

Why stopping the war was ‘too sensitive’ for India during the elections is a matter for the people of Tamil Nadu to investigate and comprehend with, the political observers further said.

The whole perspective of the West that ‘sustained pressure’ would work, solutions could be found within one country ‘meeting the aspirations of all communities’, the crisis doesn’t deserve direct international intervention and that it could be dealt with in ‘informal’ ways ‘on the margins’ of meetings – all proved wrong by the Sri Lankan state.

The leaked classified documents also reveal how shallow and politically narrow the British approach was towards the national question in the island, not giving due credit to the merit of the question.

As Mr. Waite handling Sri Lanka put it in the documents, the Fabian attitude of the British ministers towards the simmering situation was stirred only when the vocal diaspora threatened their electoral prospects.

Waite said that much of HMG and ministerial attention to Sri Lanka is due to the “very vocal” Tamil Diaspora in the UK, numbering over 300,000 and who have been protesting in front of Parliament since April 6. He said that with UK elections on the horizon and many Tamils living in Labour constituencies with slim majorities, the Government is paying particular attention to Sri Lanka, with Miliband recently remarking to Waite that he was spending 60 percent of his time at the moment on Sri Lanka.

Whatever little the British Tamils have democratically achieved should be an inspiration to the global Tamils, especially to those in Tamil Nadu, in getting international political justice to the nation of Eezham Tamils in the island, political observers in UK commented further.

Unless the Eezham Tamils don’t take issues that concern them directly into their hands and work for them proactively along with world civil society institutions, the ambivalence of the international system would only fail them, said a Western academic who had firsthand information on the long term genocidal intentions of the Sri Lankan state in the island.


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