Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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A Campaign of Bloodshed

by Prashanth Parameswaran, Cavalier Daily Opinion Columnist

No one denies that terrorism is a major issue, and one that needs to be tackled urgently. But arming rogue regimes with gross human rights records and preventing the resolution of key regional disputes is certainly not the right way to go about it.

THE UNITED STATES has fought unjust wars and practiced immoral acts formed under the guise of a "war on terror." But most of all, the campaign has wreaked havoc in regions such as South Asia and damaged all possible chances for peace and prosperity. The Bush administration's armed support for the despotic Nepalese monarchy and the autocratic Sri Lankan government has resulted in bloody, anti-democratic campaigns of slaughter in the two nations. In addition, its use of incentives for India and Pakistan has undermined future cooperation between the two rivals and affirmed U.S. support for regimes which blatantly flout global non-proliferation regulations.

U.S. military support for the power-hungry Nepalese monarchy has killed 13,000 in the last decade. It has armed and trained King Gyanendra's Royal Nepalese Army, which regularly resorts to detention, torture and extrajudicial killings of citizens and hundreds of political leaders. Although the United States suspended "lethal aid" after Gyanendra sacked the government and assumed direct power in 2005, it still provides bullet proof vests and jeeps to assist in this mass murder, according to Amnesty International. This has all been done in the name of preventing the opposing Maoist rebels to take over the government. However, this "anti-terror campaign" has allowed Gyanendra to abolish a constitutional monarchy and brutally crackdown on political parties and civilians. This blind dedication to rooting out terrorists is undermining the Nepalese political process. Just this week, opposition protests resulted in three civilian deaths in the hands of royalist forces.

The United States has also allied with the Sri Lankan government in helping it unleash its own campaign of rape and murder against its Tamil population. U.S. military cooperation includes the training of brutal Sri Lankan security forces as well as the approval of United States made military equipment from third parties such as U.S. engined Israeli Kfir jets. This violates the U.S. Leahy Law which "prohibits the training of any foreign military personnel known to have committed human rights abuses." While it is true that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or "Tamil Tigers," are the most successful and violent terrorist group in the world, the United States has banned the LTTE but has neither condemned the government's equally gross human rights violations nor halted military assistance. For instance, when tsunami aid was to be delivered to Sri Lanka recently, the United States did not protest the government's inhumane bypass of aid to affected Tamil areas.

While terrorist groups do not deserve aid, there is no reason to bypass the entire Tamil population, a majority of whom do not even condone the radical Tigers. The U.S. government's siding with the government also gives it no incentive to cooperate in the recent international negotiations with the Tigers which have reached their lowest point in years. The United States should act responsibly and facilitate a political compromise between the government and the LTTE instead of letting its obsession with terrorism result in a near-breakdown of civil war.

The United States has also compromised global nonproliferation records in its dealings with India and Pakistan. For starters, the same year the A.Q. Khan nuclear black market network was discovered to be run out of Pakistan, the United States designated Pakistan the prestigious "major non-NATO ally" status -- a token for its counterterrorism cooperation. In doing so, the United States has placed counterterrorism cooperation of one nation over wider global nonproliferation. The civilian nuclear deal with India is no better, considering that gas centrifuges for India's nuclear program originated from the same AQ Khan network.

The United States has also thwarted possible peace endeavors between the two powers due to its terrorism agenda. The possible pipeline between India, Pakistan and Iran, which would greatly enhance cooperation between the two regional powers, is despised by Washington thanks to Iran's terrorist background. Washington has tried to lure the two nations away from the pipeline by making them compete for U.S. incentives like the nuclear deal, thereby facilitating antagonism. This, according to the Financial Times, is the worst possible moment to do so since bilateral cooperation is unusually high and the Kashmir issue is the closest to being resolved. Once again blinded by terrorism, the United States is refusing to support a pipeline which symbolizes potential cooperation between two nuclear powers which have fought three wars.

No one denies that terrorism is a major issue, and one that needs to be tackled urgently. But arming rogue regimes with gross human rights records and preventing the resolution of key regional disputes is certainly not right way to go about it. If the United States continues to pursue a one-track mind approach to combating terrorism, South Asia will descend into a land of civil war and nuclear destruction.

Prashanth Parameswaran's column appears Fridays in The Cavalier Daily [University of Virginia, Charlottesville student newspaper]. He can be reached at

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