Colombo Telegraph

Major Powers Assisted Sri Lanka In Its Crackdown On Dissidents

Assistance lent by several major powers to the Rajapaksa regime as well as previous Sri Lankan governments to continue the brutal crackdown on dissenting elements including the Tamils, have been summed up in an article published in today’s Guardian website.

In the piece titled ‘When it comes to persecution, we’ve given Sri Lanka plenty of help’, its writer Antony Loewenstein has listed out specific details where assistance had been provided mainly by Australia and Britain in the forms of training and sharing intelligence with the Sri Lankan military and Police, despite mounting allegations of human rights abuses in the country.

Loewenstein alleges the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that works closely with its Sri Lankan counterparts providing training, intelligence, vehicles and surveillance equipment, of having being present during Sri Lankan police beatings and interrogations of returned asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, he has quoted a recent report by British researcher and journalist Phil Miller of London-based Corporate Watch who has exposed details of how brutal tactics utilized in Northern Ireland were brought to Sri Lanka during the conflict period to be used against dissidents and Tamils.

Despite Britain’s present calls to bring justice to those who have been subjected to violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the final phase of the conflict in Sri Lanka, Loewenstein has quoted parts of Miller’s report that has uncovered new evidence on how the British had been working closely with Colombo to eradicate the Tamil Tigers from early 1980s onwards.

The article states that although London has denied any official involvement in training Sri Lankan ‘para-military [forces] for counter-insurgency operations’ over the years, Britain has continued to provide assistance to aid in the Sri Lankan government’s crackdown against dissidents as they saw a unique opportunity to maintain influence with Colombo owing to its pivotal geographic positioning.

The piece points out the British assistance had ranged from training a generation of Sri Lankan officers through establishing a military academy in Sri Lanka in 1997 and thereafter supplying a range of weapons to the military and assisting Sri Lankan intelligence agencies, to the most recent of such aid lent in 2009 to assist in the growth of the Sri Lankan Police Department.

Furthermore in his piece Loewenstein has accused Russia, China, Israel as well as America of selling military hardware to Colombo both before and after 2009, quoting Wikileaks cables as evidence of the US government recognising Sri Lankan military’s role in atrocities during the civil war.

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