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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

PM Cameron’s call for probe into Sri Lanka alleged abuse- What Hypocrisy?

By Sundhari Loganadan

Mr. Cameron’s much publicized calls for an independent probe in to Sri Lanka's alleged human rights abuses smack of cynical hypocrisy. While well calculated to placate the LTTE vote bank in the UK, it is sadly lacking in sincerity.

His visit to Jaffna in Sri Lanka, suggests that he was searching only for those waiting to complain, and his unconvincing theatrics were gleefully screened by the former colonial master’s ever fawning TV channels. Such an affront by a foreigner would not have been permitted on British soil while British troops were putting down the insurrection in Northern Ireland.

Sri Lanka bent over backwards to accommodate Cameron’s visit to Jaffna. His claim of hearing “harrowing tales” during his visit to the North of Sri Lanka lacks specifics and corroboration by other visitors. Cameron’s focus limited only to the complaints that he supposed to have heard demonstrates an unwillingness to acknowledge the progress made by the people of the former conflict affected areas.

Let us not forget the British atrocities around the world, which can be illustrated with cogent evidence, that still remain to be investigated.

The Chagos Archipelago, a group of seven atolls comprising approximately 60 individual islands, and which had been part of Mauritius since the 18th century, gave rise to another British outrage. All the islands forming part of the French colonial territory of Isle de France (as Mauritius was then known) were ceded to the British in 1810 under the Act of Capitulation between the two countries.

In 1968, prior to Mauritius’ independence, the UK separated the Chagos archipelago and called it the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The Chagos were home to the Chagossians for over two centuries, until the British evicted them in 1970 to make way for an American military base.

Initially the UK denied the islands were inhabited. Given the absence of any progress in discussion with the UK on the Chagossian’s “right to return”, Mauritius decided to "internationalize" the dispute.

In 2009, the UK government’s hypocritical decision to declare the entire Chagos Archipelago as a “marine reserve” became the cause of a highly charged legal battle. WikiLeaks in 2010 highlighted a classified US cable, supporting the islander’s claim that the UK was deliberately denying their right to return home.

“BIOT's former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve.” Today, the Chagossians continue to live in squalid conditions, as refugees, in Mauritius.

In Kenya, the Kikuyu rose in rebellion following their forced dispossession from their lands by the British to satisfy white settler demands. Members of the Mau Mau referred to themselves as the “Kenya Land and Freedom Army” (KLFA). It was the British who used the term Mau Mau, in an attempt to deny the rebellion international legitimacy. The British relied on ethno-psychiatrists such as Dr. John Colin Carothers to justify their campaign in Kenya to the international community. Dr. Carothers described the Mau Mau as "an irrational force of evil, dominated by bestial impulses and influenced by world communism".

According to historian David French, the British “readily committed the maximum possible force they could deploy” to crush the rebellion. The Kikuyu had to be shown “that the government is much more to be feared than Mau Mau.” The onslaught in Kenya led even Churchill, to express concern about how it would look if word got out: “We have now killed them outright without any further casualties on our side. . . . It looks like butchery.” The British employed exemplary force intended to intimidate the civilian population. Their public relations campaign, however, helped disguise the unpalatable reality of the Kenyan uprising from the British public and the wider international community for a long time.

Four Kenyan victims of torture sued the British government for what was done to them when they were in detention in the 1950s during the Mau Mau uprising. The rebels were regularly beaten, at times nearly to death, burned alive, castrated, subjected to water torture, and female detainees raped with heated glass bottles which the guards forced, with their boots, into their vaginas. Historian David Anderson, found somewhere between 130,000 and 300,000 Kikuyu were unaccounted for in the 1962 census.

The withdrawal of Japan at the end of World War II prompted theMalayan insurgency. The Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), a re-formation of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), which had been secretly trained and armed by the British during World War II, took up arms against the colonizers.

General Sir Harold Briggs, the British Army's Director of Operations in Malaya, developed an overall strategy known as the Briggs Plan, which included the forced relocation of over 500,000 rural Malayans, from their care free communal life into guarded camps called “New Villages”, which were surrounded by barbed wire, watch dogs, police posts and floodlit areas. These new villages were anything but new. They were concentration camps. These Malayan communities suffered from extreme poverty, malnutrition, alcoholism, and a complete disruption of their way of life.

Recent investigations by journalists (see, Finian Cunningham, in the Independent) of Cameron’s involvement in Syria raise a range of issues. British Special Forces are apparently training foreign-backed militants, in Jordan to wage a terror campaign in Syria. These terror gangs, have been plunging Syria into bloody chaos, with car bombs ripping through civilian neighborhoods and death squads massacring whole villages, the latest being Aqrab in Hama Province where over 125 civilians were murdered. Surely the puppeteer in London must share some of the blame!

Much of Britain’s “dirty war” strategy, as an institutionalized practice, dates from far back. The 1970 massacres in Northern Ireland during the height of the Irish Republican insurrection are an example. British officials recruited “counter gangs”, who were in essence, British proxy death squads, that sowed as much terror and mayhem as possible in order to destroy popular support for the IRA. Britain’s policy of collusion in Northern Ireland, which was implemented for nearly three decades, claimed thousands of lives. From the British government’s point of view, one great advantage of this policy was to provide “plausible denials” when accused of state terrorism
(The Guardian,12 December 2012). The situation in the maze prison, where prisoners refusing food in protest of prison conditions, were allowed to starve to death, is still fresh in Irish minds. (BBC News, 4 October 2013)

This list can be expanded to include the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, induced by the British requisition of food crops, the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, the Boer War, where the British invented concentration camps and caused thousands of civilian deaths, and the fire-bombing of German cities which caused more civilian deaths than the fighting itself. All this is politely brushed aside. Cameron’s United Kingdom is guilty of extensive human rights abuses and war crimes throughout the world over the centuries. Cameron cannot pretend to be a spokesperson for values neither he nor his country uphold. It is time that the international community launched an international probe to investigate all the crimes committed by Britain around the world.

- Asian Tribune -

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