Blood and treasure

One of Scotland's largest companies, the Weir Group, was this week fined £3m for breaching UN sanctions on Iraq by doing business with Saddam Hussein's regime. £13.9m of illegal profits were also confiscated, the BBC reported . Last year four British Parliamentary committees issued a joint report arguing that all arms licenses to Sri Lanka should be investigated, as UK-supplied weapons had been used against Tamil civilians. See these reports by The Times , Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 .

Sri Lanka taking its medicine - IMF

Despite its Sinhala nationalist rhetoric and ethos, international pressure continue to bite, compelling President Mahinda Rajapakse’s regime to implement the pro-market economic reforms that it has bitterly opposed. Concluding its visit, a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) observed this week: “The authorities’ structural reform agenda under the program … appears to be broadly on track.” ( See p33-35 of President Rajapaksa's ideological manifesto, 'Mahinda Chintana ' to see the policies the IMF seeks to roll back.) Amongst policies insisted on by the IMF are cutting of...

One country – but whose?

Sri Lanka's national anthem will only be in Sinhala from now on and the Tamil version will no longer be played at any official or state functions, the Cabinet decided on Wednesday, according to the Sunday Times . President Mahinda Rajapakse told the cabinet meeting that there could not be ‘two’ national anthems, and that this was a ‘shortcoming’ that must be rectified. (See this on state ethnic policy also.) The logic? "We must all think of Sri Lanka as one country." The President cited an instance where then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike had walked out of a function in the island’s...

Editorial: Justice is Security

“It is the responsibility of the global Tamil community living beyond Sri Lanka's murderous reach to do everything it can to contribute to, and support, international efforts to bring President Rajapakse and the rest of the leadership to justice. “This is both our right and our obligation. Most importantly, this campaign is not only about the past, but the future : it is only in this way that we can ensure the chilling horrors being unearthed by global rights activists are not visited again and again on the Tamils.” See our new editorial, ‘Justice is Security’, here . See also discussion of...

Best bit?

Which was the high point of Indian External Affairs minister S. M. Krishna’s visit to Sri Lanka in late November?

Channel 4 special report on Sri Lanka war crimes

New investigations by Channel 4 and Human Rights Watch link the Sri Lanka Army's (SLA) 53 Division to war crimes recorded by a soldier on his mobile phone. "This horrific new evidence demonstrates graphically that the Sri Lankan army engaged in summary executions of prisoners during the final days of fighting in May 2009," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The government's failure to investigate these serious war crimes in the face of overwhelming evidence shows the need for an independent, international investigation ." Meanwhile, Amnesty International Asia-Pacific...

Diatribe against the Diaspora

“The President came to UK and returned back to Sri Lanka, happy as a lark. Now what happened to these … Tamil Tiger Terrorist Lawyers?” “Your nudity is apparent, spineless shameless Britishers!” Not unexpectedly, President Mahinda Rajapakse’s disinvitation from speaking at the Oxford Union last week amid mass protests and new evidence of war crimes, has fuelled the Sri Lankan establishment’s hostility towards both the Tamil Diaspora and the UK. However, the invective-laden opinion published Monday on Sri Lankan government websites is striking. Accompanied on one by a disclaimer, the article...

Gap between UK’s rhetoric and action

Amid the furor that enveloped President Mahinda Rajapakse’s visit to Britain last week, a Foreign Office statement on Sri Lanka’s war crimes went largely unremarked, if not unnoticed. T he position it sets out suggests that, while no longer legitimizing Sri Lanka’s ongoing sham commission, Britain is still not putting its weight behind a proper investigation into war crimes.

Amid the noise, a telling silence

How does a citizenry respond when their president, his family (also the core of their government), their opposition leader and leaders of their armed forces stand accused of committing war crimes against their fellow citizens and there is damning evidence to substantiate the claim? Anger, disgust, embarrassment? Maybe even a protest? Or a complete absence of comment…

Ignore the bluster, Sri Lanka craves international acceptance

Sri Lanka’s defiance of international criticism over the past two years has been interpreted by some as proof of the lack of international leverage over Colombo’s conduct. Nothing could be further from the truth. President Mahinda Rajapakse’s disastrous visit to Britain last week clearly reveals that even as his government haughtily rejects criticism, it also craves acceptance. For all its bluster, the regime desperately seeks international respectability.