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How Britain Was Complicit in Sri Lankan War Crimes

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Writing in The Tribune this week, Tamil Guardian Staff Writer Bharati Selvakumar commented on Britain’s historic and current support of Sri Lanka and “whether Britain will live up to its responsibilities and hold Sri Lanka accountable – or if the government will continue to whitewash this genocidal history”.

Selvakumar described Britain’s “lip service” to the idea of accountability but repeated failures to take any meaningful action. Instead, Selvakumar notes how “ behind closed doors, the British government has continued arms sales, the training of Sri Lanka’s security forces, and has even destroyed documentation implicating the UK in Sri Lanka’s crimes”.

Following a parliamentarian debate on Sri Lanka, Selvakumar notes how for the British Tamil Community this history of bipartisan British support for the Sri Lankan regime comes as no surprise.

Selvakumar notes Thatcher advocated for a “firm response” to the Tamil armed liberation struggle during a visit to Sri Lanka in 1985 and would go on to “impose visa restrictions on Tamil refugees fleeing Sri Lanka."

Commenting on Gordon Brown’s administration's support for the Sri Lankan regime, he notes “across the last three years of the conflict, Gordon Brown’s administration approved £13.6 million in arms sales to Sri Lanka, with £700,000 worth being sold during the final military campaign and a further £1,000,000 being approved following the end of the conflict.”

They added, “Britain’s continued support for Sri Lanka came despite massive demonstrations outside Westminster, as British Tamils launched hunger strikes, petitions, and protests pleading for relief from the carnage. The protests were some of the largest in British history, with tens of thousands on the streets, and an occupation of Parliament Square lasting 72 days and nights.”

Read the full piece here.

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