by Phil Miller
This document, published by the International Human Rights Association Bremen, is an updated version of the evidence Phil gave to the Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka…
When Prime Minister David Cameron travelled to Sri Lanka in November 2013, his visit to the northern city of Jaffna was widely seen as British support for the island’s Tamil population against persecution from the Sinhalese-majority government.1 This perception gained further credibility in March 2014, when Britain played a key role in passing a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, which called for an investigation into war crimes committed during the civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the insurgent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). These recent developments have obscured the fact that successive British governments have helped the Sri Lankan state to suppress the Tamil independence movement since its inception.
Is this current British administration really any different? A Scottish police officer is still stationed in Colombo. His role is to design a new National Police Academy for Sri Lanka, not to investigate war crimes.2 Just before the fanfare of the latest UN Human Rights Council session, the British government had quietly dispatched its lawyers to a European Court of Justice hearing in Luxembourg, where they argued that the EU-wide terrorism ban must remain on the LTTE.3 Indeed Whitehall has opposed the LTTE from the very beginning and had provided Sri Lanka with counter-insurgency assistance accordingly – over two decades before it was banned as a terrorist organisation in the UK.
This article traces the contours of British collusion with Sri Lankan security forces throughout the thirty years of genocidal counter-insurgency warfare waged against those Tamils who struggled for an independent state.4 This relationship has taken various forms, including: black operations by British mercenaries, overt training by UK military officers, supply of sophisticated weaponry, the passing of anti-terror laws and deliberate inaction at the UN Security Council. At every stage, British officials had choices to make. The cumulative outcome of those decisions is evident in Sri Lanka’s brazen mass killings of Tamils on the beaches of Mullivaikal in 2009. But it is a record of those choices that follows here.