| by Shenali Waduge
( February 21, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Why can’t Sri Lanka’s officials in particular the foreign ministry respond to allegations made against Sri Lanka if not directly but with the same political gibberish they use upon us? What stops anyone from defending one’s nation? When these allegations of accountability are thrown at us what stops our officials from saying – Let’s compare notes, and refer to US war crimes in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and subtly point out that US has a record of over 160 military interventions 77 of which have taken place since 1950 Vietnam war, where civilian killings are likely to run into millions with absolutely NO accountability for any single intervention let alone any program of resettlement, rehabilitation or reconciliation. If we are going to accept allegations then start thinking of damage control we are not likely to go anywhere as a nation.
|Former US envoy in Colombo, Robert Blake – File Photo|
We need to be matching every accusation with facts, developing counter accusations and demanding answers to our questions in return. What was the world doing or thinking when LTTE were bombing, sending suicide missions – over 170 acts of terror throughout 3 decades and did the world do anything to stop the next terror attack? LTTE targeted civilians, economic infrastructure, civil infrastructure, children, villages, places of worship – what did the world do to stop this carnage? While the world did nothing every time the LTTE was militarily cornered the world was quick to suggest “peace talk” “ceasefire”. Moreover, the world is enjoying throwing a PAID documentary called “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” and demanding “probes” & accusing Sri Lanka of “war crimes” totally ignoring the ACTUAL photos & live footage of killings taken following every killing carried out by the LTTE. The carnage carried out by the LTTE was available no sooner each gruesome killing took place…why were these not screened across the world by NGOs/Voluntary Organizations and why has the failed to take action against the LTTE for war crimes & crimes against humanity??? Get these examples together and demand feedback. Unless we assert our place in any international forum we are unlikely to be taken seriously and all the sacrifices made to liberate our nation will go in vain. With the armed services having done their part it is now upto the rest of the country to secure that hard won freedom.
We all agree that perpetrators need to be brought to justice but where is the logic of killing thousands of foreign civilians just to punish killing of US civilians? That was what Afghanistan had to experience in 2001 as punishment for the 3000 American lives lost at the World Trade Center. We all know that the invasion of Afghanistan had nothing to do with revenge but it was a good excuse to use. If Al Qaeda killed civilians in the US & US killed civilians in Afghanistan both are criminal acts. There are no examples of such revenge attacks upon Tamil civilians except of course the 1983 incident for which we hold the then UNP Govt solely responsible.
The Vietnam War resulted in the death of 587,000 civilians & wounding of double that number. It was a war that cost the US $352billion which destroyed 3500,000 acres of Vietnam which was sprayed with 19m gallons of defoliants – the effects of this will last over 100 years! This is US the champion of human rights in action. The overall death estimate is said to be 5,773,190 with over 58,000 American deaths. The orders given by US military heads was – “kill anything that moves”. All these information are openly available. They are all examples for “war crimes”.
Similarly, the “liberating Libya” military intervention by US & NATO resulted in the loss of 30,000 Libyans just to oust one man. It took 8 months to complete and ended up destroying Libya’s entire civil infrastructure in a once beautiful nation that boasted of magnificent buildings now turned to rubble. Now the rebels that the US & NATO funded are either killing each other or carrying out revenge attacks on civilians.
There is a common trend in the 77 military interventions since 1950 and US foreign policy which in reality works around securing the safety and expansion interests of American corporations, future of American defense contractors, prevention of any societies that may offer alternative capitalist ideals & to maintain the euphoric role as a political & economic powerhouse. To this end the US will do whatever to reach these objectives.
So in the 1st half of the 20thc US took over countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Haiti & the Dominican Republic purely to satisfy its corporates & their interests.
Towards the 1990s the US was quick to camouflage their interventions by calling them “humanitarian interventions” and the promise of “safeguarding” civilians & bringing “democracy” to these nations of dictators. No wonder the US cannot understand the magnitude of the efforts taken by our armed forces during Sri Lanka’s humanitarian operation where footage shows the care with which ground troops, airforce personnel & even naval troops were giving medical assistance to men, women, children and even wounded LTTE cadres. No wonder the US & the world cannot believe the caring that was clearly visible because no foreign troops have gone this length to care for any foreign civilian in the countries that US troops or NATO troops bombed indiscriminately.
The examples of how US/NATO strikes and the collateral damage done cannot be given even in numbers. The examples are too long, too gruesome and simply questions why the US/NATO took no efforts to distinguish rebels from civilians when they had the technology to do so. Let our officials compare notes of the examples of how Sri Lankan forces distinguished rebels from civilians. Ask for US/NATO examples. Question, question, question. All of the civilian infrastructure now damaged or destroyed in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan & Libya prove that these were all aimed purposely and the only explanation given was “accidental” or that they were “unavoidable”.
Some of the military interventions to install puppet “dictators” caused the deaths of thousands of civilians – in Nicaragua it is believed close to 30,000 died, in Brazil it was said to be 100,000, the US intervention in Korea left 4m dead, while in Guatemala & Honduras civilian deaths stood at 200,000, in El Salvador the deaths were 63,000, while in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru & Uruguay it was 10,000. Iraq’s 2 invasions have left 1.3m dead, Colombo’s death toll was 50,000 while 140,000 died in Japan, in the Philippines 150,000 civilians are believed to have died, while in Haiti that figure is said to be 100,000, in Laos 600,000 are feared to have died, while in Cambodia the figure was 1m & Congo 2m
Who has given authority for the US to accuse countries of harboring terrorists and attacking them simply ignoring international laws & common diplomatic courtesies? Can any other country do the same?
The US has refused to sign UN Conventions against development & use of chemical & biological weapons but it was the insistence that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction that was used as a pretext to invade Iraq.
Of the 12 main treaty bodies, the US has not ratified the following: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil &Political Rights…how can US quote from international UN treaties when it has not signed most of them?
How can US call itself a champion of human rights and peace when it routinely votes against UN resolutions and treaties? The US voted “NO” to aid to developing nations, for protecting developing nations in trade agreements, for a New International Economic Order for underdeveloped nations, for right of nations to economic systems of their choice, for anti-apartheid convention. US has voted “NO” 8 times for Palestinian living conditions/rights, US votes “NO” 6 times to Israeli human rights abuses and the US has refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warming, US has refused to sign the Anti-Biological Weapons Convention, Convention against the use of land mines…the list of “NO”s & refusals used by the US is certainly a long one. Moreover the US owes the UN $1.2billion.
Can Sri Lanka’s officials ask how US can quote UN charters/treaties & human rights when the US has not signed most of them and refuses to follow those that they sign anyway! Make a list of all these Treaties & Charters & the rulings by US. Use these to counter allegations against us.
US military interventions are not just about going against UN conventions, these interventions also involve assassinations, sabotage, population control, torture, repression, psychological torture, death squads, aiding & training terrorist movements or rebel groups human rights abuses etc. It is widely expected that CIA has attempted to assassinate at least 40 foreign heads of state. The successful attempts have been Patrice Lumumba (Congo), Rafael Trujillo (Dominican republic) Ng Dihn Diem (Vietnam) & Salvador Allende (Chile)
Can the US pose itself as a neutral peacekeeper for after deploying its forces, the US turns regions & countries against each other by enflaming conflicts inside these nations? When the US has the political and economic opportunity to solve root problems why does it desire to polarize factions and create destability in countries? Some of these blueprints do not work where leaders who are demonized by the US end up more popular than they should.
When the US speaks against Terrorism and declares a “War on Terror” we can but ask why the US is the world’s largest manufacturers & seller of weapons abroad. These arms are sold to dictators and terrorists and if the US is against Terrorism why are they selling arms to Terrorists? Take out these statistics, use them when allegations are hurled at us.
Lets be realistic. When the LTTE closed the sluice gates of Mavil Aru in the Eastern Province it would never have thought it would loose the entire province and to have to retreat to retain the North. Its strategies went haywire no sooner it became on the defensive not knowing how to handle the new onslaught of strategies thrown at them by the SL security forces. LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka was planned to remain with no likely solution in the offing. The military onslaught changed the tips of the scales and today LTTE ground terror is no more but the men that pulled the strings and funded the LTTE are very much active in the very nations that have banned them.
We should not be surprised at what the LTTE Diaspora can do with money. They are only continuing what they did when the LTTE terror was alive – they know how to buy people, buy organizations and sway policies. Telling our good story alone is going to get us nowhere. If we must fall, we must fall with dignity and that should be our motto. Therefore, if we are being accused let us start reminding the world that before they point a finger at us – they have more fingers pointing at them. We are not a colony – we are a sovereign nation and we must act like one.
We may be a third world nation – but let us all live & act with dignity & integrity. Every loan given or taken comes with interest for which future Sri Lankan generations have to pay…so no handouts are really given anyway for us to feel indebted to any nation or monetary organization.