Monday, July 06, 2009

Will this International Community Actually Help Innocents from Becoming Refugees?

Kusal Perera,
[Sri Lanka]

The international community, the UN Security Council, The Commonwealth Member Countries, the SAARC are all organizations and forums at different levels that could have prevailed on Sri Lanka if they were really serious about innocent people being killed in thousands and thus over the human carnage that most nakedly unfolded, in the bloody conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers. This catastrophe started unfolding in a very savage manner especially from January this year, after Tamil Tigers accepted defeat by leaving Killinochchi and retreating to their acclaimed stronghold, the Mullaitivu. Thus from January 2009 to May 17th, at least 04 months in full was available for these international forces to stop the human carnage that rolled out, killing a minimum of 12,000 civilians and throwing out 217,000 civilians behind barbed wire IDP camps.

Even before that, there were calls going out to the international community, to the EU, to the UN and to most other humanitarian agencies, asking them to intervene in this conflict on the basis there is an imminent humanitarian crisis that needs independent intervention. This call for independent intervention from the outside world went out louder when the GoSL systematically closed all access to international and national aid organizations, humanitarian organizations and to the media in reaching the war affected areas and the people caught in the war. A war behind iron curtains can never be within humanitarian limits and decency.

Yet in a typically bureaucratic manner, all international organizations from the UN Security Council to the EU and the SL Aid Group, including all humanitarian agencies, worked hard to find protocols, international charters and covenants that could lay the blame square on both the GoSL and the Tamil Tigers equally and request for adherence to international law. It is not that they did not know such statements from distant cities would provide the government with time and space to continue with its military offensives how ever ruthless they could be.

This isn't the first time these international organizations and associations have been into this business of allowing armed conflicts to grow savage at the expense of human life. The Rwandan conflict is one classic example of how the UN Security Council and the international community played on their own agenda at the expense of innocent human lives. In less than 100 days, over 01 million Tutsi civilians were hacked, butchered and cut to death in one of the most callous neglects in world diplomacy, while the UN Security Council members were arguing on who is right and who is wrong and whether it is right to intervene and how. They went into long discussions and debates over coffee and tea, for they had all the time in the world in their plush offices. But not those Tutsi men, women and children, the young and the old who were dying at the hands of Hutu power on the roads, in their homes, at workplaces and in hide outs they thought they would be safe.

The US Secretary of State under the Clinton administration, Madam Madeleine Albright writing her autobiography in her retirement says, [quote] As I look back at the records of the meetings held that first week, I am struck by the lack of information about the killing that had begun against unarmed Rwandan civilians, as opposed to the fighting between Hutu and Tutsi militias. Many Western embassies had been evacuated, including our own (US), so official reporting was curtailed. Dallaire (head of the UN Peace keeping force) was making dire reports to the UN headquarters, but the oral summaries provided to the Security Council lacked detail and failed to convey the full dimensions of the disaster. As a result, the Council hoped unrealistically that each new day would bring a cease fire.[unquote] – (Madam Secretary / page 188; emphasis and explanations within brackets added)

That is simply how these big powers play their role as international leaders. After all that massacre, after 01 million innocent lives had been unnecessarily hacked to death, Albright says, [unquote] My deepest regret from years in public service is the failure of the United States and the international community to act sooner to halt those crimes. President Clinton later apologized for our lack of action, as did I. [unquote] – (ibid – p/185; emphasis added)

It's easy for them to tender apologies and lay the chapter of mass killings aside. So is it with all the other conflicts she lists in her memoirs. Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Angola, Liberia, Mozambique, Sudan, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan were all extreme cases of conflict that had received priority over Rwanda according to Albright. It was 1993 and 16 years ago that she lists all these conflict ridden countries. Israel and the Gaza, is not there though. That's despite the UN Security Council adopting 131 Resolutions on the Israel – Palestinian conflict, but has never invoked Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Israel is thus given freedom to behave the way it wants. Burma and Aung San Suki wasn't even listed. The Military Junta carries on regardless.

How many has the UN Security Council and the international community solved or at least positively intervened in paving a way out of the conflicts, from this list in Madam Secretary's memoirs ? None for sure. In fact the list is longer and broader now. There is Iraq, Iran and North Korea on a different plateau. Afghanistan has now turned the conflict into an Afghanistan – Pakistan – India conflict. Robert Mugabe continues with his Zimbabwe reeling with armed conflicts while enjoying inflation at over 2,000 per cent. President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan is indicted in the ICC while the international community allows Darfur to turn into a playing field for human catastrophe. The list is definitely long and bloody.

The Sri Lankan conflict could not receive from these cumbersome agencies any treatment that would be different to what they have always been doling out. In all these international agencies, from the UN to IMF and World Bank, the US dollar has big interests in how they act. All international agencies have to accede to super power interests and that is no secret. Who are they ? They are all big time arms manufacturers and dealers. The US between the years 2000 – 2007 has been leading the military hardware market with US $ 134.84 billion which was 37% of the market share. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the US, UK, France, Russia, and China together in 2002 shared 88% of the reported sales in conventional arms.

Imagine this planet earth in soothing peace. Imagine no armed conflicts any where, but only dialogue and negotiations in managing conflicts. Can these five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council afford to lose US $ 273.5 billion to their national economies? As former US President Jimmy Carter said during his presidential campaign in 1976, [quote] We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of arms.[unquote]

They would rather say "sorry" again after everything is over. The Sri Lankan government has on its own finished the conflict with a huge human carnage. Now they issue statements, ambiguous in tone but thanking the government of SL for finishing off "terrorism". For they wouldn't lose this tiny arms market immediately and there are other conflicts they moderate on their own agenda, any way. It's ridiculous to expect international big time players including the UN to help stop human tragedies. They wouldn't.

For details on world armament market visit -

1 comment:

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