Things to think about as Sri Lanka votes

Early presidential elections in Sri Lanka — between the incumbent (increasingly dictatorial) president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and his former Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena — have unexpectedly become a nail-biter race.

Some of the Western coverage has focused on the frivolous and bizarre. (For example, the New York Times’s “As Vote Nears, Astrologer for Sri Lanka’s President Faces Ultimate Test of His Skills”.) Some has focused on the president’s troubling alliance with extremist Buddhist/Sinhalese nationalism.

But most importantly, there are reflections on President Rajapaksa’s appalling war crimes during his decisive but extremely violent conclusion to Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war:

By the first few months of 2009, with the [Tamil] Tigers in hopeless retreat, the government declared a series of what they called “no fire zones”, into which they encouraged as many as 400,000 Tamil civilians to gather “for their own safety”.

Government forces then relentlessly shelled these zones
and, as a later UN report concluded, systematically denied them food and humanitarian supplies. The UN estimates that there were “as many as 40,000 civilian deaths in a matter of weeks, most as a result of government shelling. There was also a World Bank estimate that 100,000 civilians were missing after the war.

 
It takes a special kind of monster to urge civilians into safe zones and then direct military to shell those zones.

President and Mrs. Obama in an official photo with President and Mrs. Rajapaksa at the September 2013 UN General Assembly in New York. (White House Photo)

President and Mrs. Obama in an official photo with President and Mrs. Rajapaksa at the September 2013 UN General Assembly in New York. (White House Photo)

Bill Humphrey

About Bill Humphrey

Bill Humphrey is the primary host of WVUD's Arsenal For Democracy talk radio show and is a Senior Editor for The Globalist. Follow him @BillHumphreyMA on twitter.
Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed