It is interesting to note that the first country Sri Lanka’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has chosen to visit since brutally quashing the Tamil Tiger rebellion is Burma. Over 20,000 civilian were estimated killed as the Sri Lankan military sought to wipe out the last vestiges of the Tamil independence movement. While there is little doubt that both sides acted in defiance of humanitarian norms, in relation to the civilian population the government still bears great responsibilty for the large number of civilians killed.
It must be pointed out that the Sri Lankan President will be visiting Burma at the height of another SPDC offensive against the ethnic Karen in the eastern borderlands of the country. One can only assume the main topic of conversation will be how best to eradicate or subjugate the various minorities in their respective homelands. Now that the Sri Lankan military has started mopping up operations against the Tamil minority it’s reasonable to be believe that the Burmese generals can give handy hints on the best methods of relocating and pacifying minority peoples based on their 40 odd years of experience.
Reports have already begun to surface that a large scale operation involving the detention of all Tamil civilians, regardless of connection to the conflict, has begun. A number of camps, supported by the U.N., currently hold over 100,000 civilians in the most appalling circumstances. According to a Channel 4 documentary
‘claims have emerged of shortages of food and water, dead bodies left where they have fallen, women separated from their families, and even sexual abuse.’
The Generals must be extremely encouraged that a country like Sri Lanka can be so easily allowed to massacre and imprison it own civilians with little or know censure. The UN has proved one again that it is ineffective and as such can not really be relied on to assist those most at risk. For its part, Burma donated $50,000 to Sri Lanka, on the 11th June, as …’humanitarian assistance…which will be utilized for the welfare activities of the IDPs in the North.’ according to Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Burma, Newton Gunaratna who also called the country a ‘Friend indeed’. Where the SPDC money is for the 4000 Karen civilians forced to flee an IDP camp in the east of Burma after it was shelled by the Burma Army remains a mystery.
Meanwhile a recent report, while emphasizing the gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the LTTE, also accuses the Sri Lankan military of “the most depraved depths of humanity” after it was discovered that the Army had deliberately massacred surrendering rebels.
I’m sure both countries will be very happy in their friendship.