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UK long blighted cause of Eezham Tamils, contributed to genocide

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 26 March 2014 09:25 No Comment]

“The UK’s permanent representative at the United Nations, a man called Sir John Sawers, who was at that time the permanent representative to the UN, stopped any Security Council discussion about the crisis in Sri Lanka in February 2009. This was the exact point, as we know very well from the Petrie Report that the UN officers were raising massive alerts inside the organisation about the impending massacre. It was the UK that stopped the Security Council from discussing those reports openly, so it wasn’t just an internal institutional failure of the UN, it was a deliberate policy of the UK government,” said British criminology academic Dr Andy Higginbottom, addressing a media meet in Geneva on Friday. He elucidated on how the UK was long blighting the cause of Eezham Tamils.

“Sir John Sawer, has since his appointment as UK representative of the UN, been subsequently appointed head of MI6, which is one of the two major intelligence institutions of my country,” Dr Higginbottom said.

Sir John Sawer, representative of the UK to the UN Security Council in 2009 and later chief of MI6, Britain's external intelligence agency [On 5th February 2009, when the war was heading towards genocidal end, answering media on UK’s stand at the UN Security Council, John Sawer said: “The Tamil Tigers are a proscribed organisation and the government of Sri Lanka has long been blighted by the activities of the Tamil Tigers. We want these to be brought to an end.”]

Dr Higginbottom in his address listed out how the British government was long blighting the cause of Eezham Tamils, by steadily backing the genocidal State of Sri Lanka, at every stage since 1948.

“There has been a programmatic involvement of the British military secret service, top politicians, top civil servants, top police officers, in training, equipping and directing the forces of the Sri Lankan State to eliminate through counter-insurgency strategies and methods, any internal threat to its united State,” Higginbottom said.

During the peace process, the UK “was directly involved with the United States in a programmatic structural review of the Sri Lankan armed forces, which recommended the continuation of special operations against Tamil civilians, in other words, in the midst of peace, the British were directly involved in prosecuting further war against Eelam Tamils. This came right from the very top of the British State,” he observed.

He revealed how the British directly trained the ultimate commander in the field, the killing fields in May 2009 (General Kamal Gunaratne, commander of the 53 division).

Dr Andy Higginbottom “We are now in the phase of cover up of the genocide. How can you hide a genocide in plain sight,” asked Dr Higginbottom.

“We are not only witnessing genocide as a social process, which is exactly the determination which the Bremen tribunal came to, but genocide as practice of international diplomacy.”

“The current US and UK position is a manoeuvre to delay and ultimately avoid a genuine international independent inquiry.”

The current resolution tabled by the USA “is part of a final solution that would completely destroy the political legitimacy of the cause of Tamil Eelam,” the British academic said.

“In my view, public opinion should be demanding the immediate withdrawal of Sri Lankan troops, of the military in North and East of Sri Lanka and an inquiry into the genocide of Tamils that cannot include any of the major powers the UK and the US but also India and China that are in different ways complicit with the genocide,” Dr Higginbottom said at the media meet.

Full text of the address by Dr Andy Higginbottom at the media meet in Geneva on Friday:

My name is Andy Higginbottom, I have a PhD in Criminology, my thesis was on Crimes of the Powerful and I was Co-Prosecutor for the Permanent People’s Tribunal, which took place in Bremen in December last year.

The PPT, as it is known, found Sri Lanka guilty of structural and on-going genocide against Tamils.

It also found the United States and the United Kingdom guilty of complicity with the on-going genocide against Tamils.

* * *

The press conference has been called to discuss the proposed resolution of the 25th session under the terms of solution or problem.

If the aim is to normalise the military occupation, to normalise a situation where national self-determination for Eelam Tamils is permanently denied, then in my belief, the US and UK proposal is part of the solution. But, it is part of a final solution that would completely destroy the political legitimacy of the cause of Tamil Eelam.

The importance of the Permanent People’s Tribunal’s judgment is that it establishes a well informed third opinion in the international public community that is quite distinct from the policy being pursued by both of the two blocs of governments represented at the UNHRC.

Alongside the verdict of genocide, the Tribunal highlighted the extent of United States and UK complicity in that genocide.

It is a vital point given the current role and the current debate about the role of two major western powers.

So, my question would be not only can Tamils trust the Sri Lankan State and government, for which I think the answer is very clear. What we are discussing is can Eelam Tamils trust the United Kingdom and the United States.

* * *

I want to highlight today the deep and strategic military commitments of the United Kingdom, that’s my country, to the Sri Lankan State’s and its genocidal policies.

British complicity with Ceylon, and then Sri Lanka after 1948, is rooted in an imperial strategy and the two-fold aspect of the island’s position.

As a conduit to radical nationalism in India and the subcontinent, and above all for the British, it’s critical location and its naval capacity in controlling the sea-lanes in the Indian Ocean.

Tamils may not sit on oil, but they sit in an ocean across which oil is transported. The spigot of the world’s oil in the Middle East passes by the island of Ceylon or Sri Lanka.

This has been known throughout the 20th century by the British to cite, but one example, Winston Churchill remarked about the battle, which the British fought to keep the Japanese out of Ceylon that this was probably one of the decisive battles of the 2nd World War. Because, had the Japanese won – this is back in 1942 – they would have been able to connect up with the German forces in Egypt. And in other words they would have been able to deny permanently access to world’s oil even at that stage.

So from the perspective of British interests, we are always needing to bear in mind: location, location and location.

* * *

It is about a strategic and imperial interest that is what over-determines how British see the internal situation that is why they have always and consistently supported the Sri Lankan State as a instrument of repression internally, to ensure external stability.

For example – and this is a quote I want to give you, the research we are now doing is largely but not entirely based on documents that become available under the 30 year rule on the previously secret documents of the British:

In 1947, the three UK military chiefs – that’s army, navy and air force – issued a briefing to the UK government in the midst of negotiations about independence. The three military chiefs urged the British government, Labour at that time, to make a commitment that it would “Introduce forces and take action as necessary to defend our interests.”

And the whole history up to and including 2009, has been within that same strategic pattern.

* * *

There has been a programmatic involvement of the British military secret service, top politicians, top civil servants, top police officers, in training, equipping and directing the forces of the Sri Lankan State to eliminate through counter-insurgency strategies and methods, any internal threat to its united State.

If we take for example, intelligence operated – this is now operated at the highest level, now public documents show that at least three times in the 1970s alone, the British intervened – at the very highest level to support and provide intelligence to the Sri Lankan armed forces.

If we move on to the 1980’s, in particular the role of special operations units and there is a company, which you may have heard of, called Keeny Meeny Services, which provided hands-on training to the Sri Lankan State to operate and kill Tamils.

There is now published an autobiography of one person who calls himself Tim Smith – I’m not sure if that is his real name – who boasts that he was a helicopter hands-on trainer for the Sri Lankan armed forces.

In 1986, he says in his autobiography, within 5 months he killed 152 Eelam Tamils and that is at the point of which he stopped counting.

There were 35 such trainers, hands-on killers of Keeny Meeny Services in Sri Lanka, working with the Sri Lankan armed forces at that time.

Obviously, the advantage to the British government of this special operations being privatised, is that it gives them some degree of deniability.

But, what the internal document show is this is part of a deliberate strategy.

The outsourcing was to precisely to make a plausible argument of not being responsible.

* * *

What is absolutely clear and this is a point that was raised a long time ago, long before our research, by Sivaram.

He pointed out how consistently the UK State and in particular the UK military has been involved in training the upper echelons of the Sri Lankan military.

This is not coincidental or contingent. This has been going on now for 50 years.

For example, in the last generation you will find, if you care to look that Colonel John S. Field, was the Second-in-Command of Sri Lankan Army Commander Staff College that trained the then Lieutenant Colonel Kamal Gunaratne in 1997-98.

Those of you who know the situation in Sri Lanka will know this same officer in the Sri Lankan Army became a General and was a Commander of the 53rd Division Sri Lankan Army in 2009 and is attributed, and this is an allegation of a war crime absolutely, against him that he directed the killing of Eelam Tamil prisoners including journalist Isai Priya and the LTTE leader’s son Balachandran, 12-year-old boy.

So, what we have is, the ultimate commander in the field, the killing fields in May 2009, directly trained by the British.

* * *

The UK government banned the LTTE in 2001 just as the Sri Lankan government was being obliged to de-facto recognise parity with it in the negotiations started in 2002.

It was at that time, at that very time, that the United kingdom began its intensive lobbying campaign to get the LTTE also banned in Europe, which succeeded but not until latter of 2006.

So in other words, during the entire peace process, the UK was using its diplomatic effort in order to get the LTTE banned.

And then, also in this period, it was directly involved with the United States in a programmatic structural review of the Sri Lankan armed forces, which recommended the continuation of special operations against Tamil civilians, in other words, in the midst of peace, the British were directly involved in prosecuting further war against Eelam Tamils. This came right from the very top of the British State.

In 2001, the United Kingdom set up a special security unit, which was to directly advise the Sri Lankan military in a range of matters.

And in 2007, once again, there was this semi privatisation unit set up, this time called Libra, which was to concentrate on intelligence matters.

There has been a series of training programmes by senior members of the Scottish police, of the Northern Irish police, to the Sri Lankan police immediately before and indeed since the massacres of May 2009.

* * *

The UK is not only directly involved in blocking international support for the Eelam Tamil cause by denying parity to the LTTE, it was involved in directly blocking every attempt to avert the human tragedy of May 2009.

The UK’s permanent representative at the United Nations, a man called Sir John Sawyers, who was at that time the permanent representative to the UN, stopped any Security Council discussion about the crisis in Sri Lanka in February 2009.

This was the exact point, as we know very well from the Petrie report that the UN officers were raising massive alerts inside the organisation about the impending massacre.

It was the UK that stopped the Security Council from discussing those reports openly, so it wasn’t just an internal institutional failure of the UN, it was a deliberate policy of the UK government to (not) allow a discussion that may have averted the massacre.

Sir John Sawyer has since his appointment as UK representative of the UN, has since been subsequently appointed head of MI6, which is one of the two major intelligence institutions of my country.

* * *

In conclusion, the UK government is trying to present the situation as post-conflict, its strategy is to stall and give the Sri Lankan State time to normalise the military occupation of the North and East of the island.

We are now in the phase of cover up of the genocide. How can you hide the genocide in plain sight?

We are not only witnessing genocide as a social process, which is exactly the determination, which the Bremen tribunal came to, but genocide as practice of international diplomacy.

The current US and UK position is a manoeuvre to delay and ultimately avoid a genuine international independent inquiry.

In my opinion, in my view, public opinion should be demanding the immediate withdrawal of Sri Lankan troops, of the military in North and East of Sri Lanka and an inquiry into the genocide of Tamils that cannot include any of the major powers the UK and the US but also India and China that are in different ways complicit with the genocide.

Thank you.

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