Le Monde – Editorial 1/Jun/09

    The Sri Lankan regime is exultant. It’s about to get away scot-free with the massacre of thousands of civilians on its country’s northeastern beaches. According to a UN estimate, close to 20,000 people could have perished in the Sri Lankan army’s end of January to end of May offensive against the ultra-violent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist movement. Conducted largely out of camera range, this carnage – reported by Le Monde’s special envoy – has given rise to neither investigation nor sanction.

    That explains how Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, could declare on Sunday, May 31: "Sri Lanka will enter into the annals of history as the example of a nation that overcame the scourge of terrorism, even as it tenaciously enforced respect for the precious values of democracy." With the same cynicism, Colombo asserted that it had liberated the civilians held hostage by the Tamil Tigers "without spilling a single drop of blood."

    The Sri Lankan government came away emboldened from a session of the UN Human Rights Council on May 26 and 27 that turned into a farce. The meeting of this astonishing inner circle finished off with a resolution praising the government for its human rights efforts…. The text, backed by China, India and Pakistan, offers international support for Colombo’s actions.

    As for the victims, they remain voiceless. The government is keeping close to 300,000 Tamils prisoner in camps surrounded by barbed wire, access to which is severely restricted for humanitarian aid workers and journalists. The three admirable Tamil doctors who took care of civilians during the bombings are detained in a sinister Colombo interrogation center. The local press is under orders and human rights defenders fear for their lives.
    Opposed in battle, the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers are complicit in the carnage. Because it was legitimately struggling against a terrorist movement, the army believed itself entitled to rain down a deluge of fire on the tents of tens of thousands of refugees. No less sanguinary, the Tamil Tigers transformed "their people" into human shields and recruited its children by force.

    It’s not too late for the UN to speak up. However, in the absence of an international investigation, democracies must tackle the problem and arraign Colombo. Unless they wish to agree that it’s all right to massacre in silence – an attitude that will feed tomorrow’s terrorism.


Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.






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