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What we said five years ago …

Extracts from our editorial of August 23, 2006 (see full text here):

“Despite its Buddhist pretensions, the Sinhala state invariably and swiftly resorts to a strategy of collective punishment when faced with what- in moments of forgetful sincerity - it calls ‘Tamil terrorism.’ Embargos on entire districts, bombardments of whole villages and towns, massacres of entire neighborhoods, pogroms. These are the tools Sri Lanka’s state intuitively deploys against the Tamils.

“The massive forced displacements of the past month, and the earlier waves that began in April, have all been directed to punish the upstart Tamils for defying Sinhala rule. Some Tamil writers have again raised the charge of genocide. How else to describe a strategy of driving 160,000 Tamils from their homes and then denying them access to food and clean water? How else to describe the readiness with which heavy artillery and air strikes are unleashed against Tamil villages, places of worship and children’s homes? And what other logic can underpin the blocking of aid convoys to the displaced Tamils or the massacre of aid workers seeking to help?

The simple fact is that Sri Lanka’s government doesn’t give a damn for international opinion. For a very good reason: the state will always be backed, irrespective of its infractions. …. Unfortunately that has left the Tamil community as exposed (as it always was) to Sri Lanka’s racist ambitions.

“The violence will now soar. …It is no good lamenting the slide to the war or calling for both sides to ceasefire. The international community must restrain the state. Above all, it is the policy of collective punishment that must be stopped. Else Sri Lanka will establish its own norms and develop its own local dynamics. International humanitarian law and other international norms will dissolve in a mutually intelligible cycle of atrocity amongst the island’s communities.”

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