Posts Categorized: Geopolitics

Senators Urge War Crimes Probe

Thousands of civilians died in the final months of the war when the Sri Lankan military launched a decisive offensive against ethnic Tamil rebels. Sri Lanka set up a commission to investigate alleged abuses, but rights groups say the military is not being held to account.

The Obama administration has called for steps toward accountability but has not called for an international investigation.

An Eerie Silence Takes Over

Ground zero is Kotkai, which sits amid barren saffron and chocolate colored hillsides above a snaking river cutting through South Waziristan. The town was one of the first targets of the 2009 strike and now is at the heart of the military’s rehabilitation zone…

But the government has given little to help individuals rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed during the offensive…

Some residents of South Waziristan remain wary of their own military, which is sometimes seen as the heavy hand of the nation’s dominant Punjab class used against the country’s Pashtun population, a large ethnic group from which the Taliban draws most of its fighters.

[Sound familiar? Editor]

Sri Lanka to be Tried for Genocide

“The casualty figure issue is just one factor – which we have highlighted to emphasise our point. Various other factors – such as an examination of the historical background which had laid the basis to the events that led to the military operations in 2009, as well as, whether or not the continuing issues that the Tamil people in the area concerned are facing at the moment are related to this history, needs to be carried out properly to deal with the overall reality.

“Due to the fact that substantial, quantitative and qualitative new evidence has become available, we believe that there are compelling reasons to organize a follow up to the ‘People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka’ to examine the case of Genocide against the Tamil people.”

This follow up session will be held in Germany.

New Violence in Northern Ireland

But many of the province’s political commentators see the flag dispute as a token of something more profound and ultimately more threatening to the hopes for a permanent peace here.

They say the council’s decision on the flag, made possible by the fact that nationalists now hold 24 seats on the council, compared with 21 for the unionists, reflects the rapid growth of the Catholic population in the years since the Good Friday agreement, unsettling the long-held assumption among unionists that Protestants would constitute a permanent majority in the province.

Tibetans’ Fast at UN

These ultimate sacrifices by Tibetans inside Tibet are conscious decisions made with unwavering determinations solely dedicated towards a nation’s independence and for its people’s freedom. The Tibetan Youth Congress will out rightly reject any interpretation that reduces these heroic sacrifices as merely acts of desperations or helplessness.

Do Less Harm

Nonetheless, in modern warfare, the need to protect civilians is in constant tension with the desire to destroy the enemy. Getting that balance right has been a rocky process, with one mistake after another jolting U.S. policymakers into improving the way the military deals with civilian harm…

If American leaders abandon the war-fighting model they ultimately adopted in Afghanistan and Iraq, they may find it harder to counter a more brutal and cynical narrative about the best way to win a war — one that treats civilians as irrelevant.

In 2009, the Sri Lankan military cornered an estimated 5,000 or more Tamil Tiger insurgents on a narrow strip of land, alongside hundreds of thousands of uprooted civilians. By shelling the area indiscriminately and summarily executing the group’s escaping leaders, the government wiped out the insurgents — and killed tens of thousands of civilians in the process. Just like Russia’s brutal war in Chechnya during the first decade of this century, Sri Lanka’s campaign proved that if a government is willing to expel aid groups and journalists and employ indiscriminate force, it can defeat insurgents.

To make matters worse, Sri Lanka has been actively promoting its model abroad: since 1999, its leaders have been traveling to other countries facing domestic insurgencies, including Myanmar (also called Burma), Pakistan, and the Philippines, to share the lessons of their victory. They have staged annual defense seminars attended by military officers from across the world. Sri Lanka’s lethal counterinsurgency strategy requires having a strong stomach for civilian bloodshed and turning a blind eye to international criticism. But there are countries willing to go this route, because it can work. As one of the world’s leading exporters of military ethos, aid, and training, the United States can and should provide a counterweight.

One Hundred Thousand Tamils Missing After Sri Lanka War

The leaked World Bank spreadsheets broken down by village for the north of the island estimate numbers of returnees to the former conflict area in mid 2010. The Bank also cites Statistical Handbook Numbers for population in 2007 – before the fighting intensified. The two sets of data reveal 101,748 people missing from Mullaitivu District – the area that bore the brunt of the final fighting…

Nearly four years on there is no agreed death toll, even to the nearest ten thousand lives. That’s why an international investigation is required to establish the truth about what may be one of the least reported but worst atrocities of recent decades – both in terms of the speed and the scale of the killing.

Pressing the Case for Reconciliation

The United States will invariably look to strengthen military ties with Sri Lanka. Strategically speaking, it would be unwise for Washington to further antagonize Colombo and lose an ally in a region where it intends to maintain a significant presence in the coming decades. Sri Lanka is not a top tier foreign policy priority for the United States, but the Obama administration will be reluctant to cede all influence there–especially as China’s foreign policy agenda continues to expand…

With Obama currently looking at major shifts within his foreign policy and national security team, few decisions about Sri Lanka are likely to be made until 2013.

The Sri Lankan Silk Road

The confluence of the militarized economic development, widespread corruption, alleged war crimes, the concentration of all powers in the executive presidency, and family members easily getting elected to parliament, along with the arrogance and jubilant aftermath of the Eelam War, has presented a negative international image of the once-Buddhist and democratic nation.

UN ‘Failed SL Civilians’ Says Internal Probe

“Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN to adequately respond… during the final stages of the conflict and its aftermath, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of civilians.”