boycott sri lanka

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just as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against the zionist entity picked up steam after the recent israeli terrorist savagery of gaza, so to have tamils pulled together an economic boycott campaign against sri lanka. you can click on the previous link to find out more about their campaign. their website has a lot of great information on the context of the conflict in sri lanka and about various products to boycott and ways you can help. they also have a list of companies and products to boycott, most of which are related to clothing, which means when you go shopping check your labels to make sure it wasn’t made in sri lanka (or the zionist entity for that matter). and here are their top 10 reasons to boycott sri lanka:

1. More than $4 Billion USD from several countries directly or indirectly assist the Genocidal War
2. Sri Lanka: One of the Top Red Alert Countries for Genocide
3. 250,000+ Civilians Waiting Death due to Blockade of Humanitarian Aid and Military Operations
4. 370,000+ Civilians Killed by Sri Lankan Government Military Operations
5. 150,000+ Civilians are Forcedly Held in Detentions Camps
6. Daily Aerial Bombardment on Safety Zones
7. Sri Lanka: #1 Human Rights Violator in South Asia
8. Sri Lanka: Listed 2nd Worldwide in Disappearances
9. Sri Lanka: Out of 173 Free Nations, 8th Worst In Press Freedom
10. Sri Lanka: Voted off United Nations Humans Rights Council

the no to sri lanka campaign produced a two-part video that encapsulates the orchestrated genocide against the tamil population since england granted independence to the island in 1948:

in the past week there have been a number of egregious developments in sri lanka related to the recent genocide against the tamils and also the crack down on information by the sri lankan government. most recently, they kidnapped three doctors who have shared the atrocities they’ve witnessed with the world since the international media has been barred from covering the conflict as mark tran reports for the guardian:

Human rights groups today called for the immediate release of three doctors amid fears they would be mistreated by the Sri Lankan authorities for giving out information about government shelling and civilian casualties.

The three, who were last seen on Friday in a holding area at a checkpoint, had been working for the government in the conflict zone in north-east Sri Lanka, treating the sick and wounded, until leaving the no-fire zone with about 5,000 other civilians. Their whereabouts are now unknown.

According to a health ministry official, the doctors were detained by the military and turned over to the police, who were inquiring into allegations that the three had disseminated false information.

The government banned independent media from the war zone, so the three – Thurairaja Varatharajah, who is reportedly seriously injured, Thangamuttu Sathyamurthi and V Shanmugarajah – were frequently quoted by the press. Working from hospitals and makeshift medical centres in the war zone, they gave vivid accounts of the suffering of civilians and spoke of the continuous shelling of areas with large concentrations of civilians, despite government denials of the use of heavy artillery.

Physicians for Human Rights, in the US, said it had been told the Sri Lankan government was detaining doctors “incommunicado, possibly in retaliation for adhering to their ethical obligation to protect the lives of their patients in all circumstances”.

tony birtley covered this story on al jazeera as well, although i still find it alarming that al jazeera continues to report that 17,000 “fighters” were killed and refuses to call them civilians:

i’ve been writing about similarities i’ve seen between the situation of the tamils in sri lanka and palestinians in gaza for a while now. there is one striking difference emerging and that is the fact that tamil survivors of this genocide have been interned in prison camps in sri lanka and the government is saying they will remain imprisoned in these camps for 2 years. of course all palestinians in gaza are living in the world’s largest prison. but within that prison there are internationals and palestinians who are doing the best to help the new palestinian refugees. in sri lanka no international aid organizations have access to people imprisoned in these camps nor do other tamil people as gethin chamberlain reports for the guardian:

Many of the quarter of a million people held in internment camps in Sri Lanka face up to two years behind razor wire, a government official said today.

Despite international concern over conditions inside the camps, the defence ministry spokesman, Lakshman Hulugalle, said Sri Lanka was not prepared to let the UN dictate terms over the length of time people could be held.

A UN spokesman, Gordon Weiss, said he was “shocked” at the revelation, which ran counter to previous government assurances.

“It was our understanding that the government was to return 80% of the people to their homes by the end of the year, or at least try to,” said Weiss.

The UN, Britain and human rights groups have been pressing the government in Colombo to release people from the camps as soon as possible. But Hulugalle said: “The UN can’t dictate terms to us. They can always make a request but the UN hasn’t asked us to release people. The government has a plan to resettle them. Let these agencies come and join us.”

Hulugalle said the government had already resettled almost 200,000 people after the east of the country was liberated from Tamil Tiger control. “We were able to resettle them within nine months. This operation will take a little longer – one and a half to two years,” he said.

Some elderly people with close relatives who could look after them had been released, but many others would have to stay behind for up to two years.

Responding to criticism of conditions inside the camps, where detainees have told the Guardian they are short of food, water and medicines, Hulugalle said: “You can’t expect five-star hospitality in an area like that. What we are providing are the basics – security, food, health and schools. These are basic. You can’t expect an Oxford college.”

Hulugalle said the government had turned down an offer of 750 previously used blankets from the Hilton hotel group because people did not want to be treated as second-grade citizens. “They are not beggars,” he said.

The government says it needs to hold the civilians until it can establish whether or not they are Tamil Tigers.

The news came as the Red Cross suspended delivery of supplies to displaced civilians after the Sri Lanka blocked access to camps it controls in the country’s north.

“There is no access to these camps at this particular moment,” said a Red Cross official in Geneva.

as a result of this blockade against giving aid the icrc has now had to suspend its services according to al jazeera:

An international aid group has suspended its aid operations in Sri Lanka due to restrictions placed on it by the government.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Al Jazeera on Wednesday, a day after Sri Lanka’s government declared victory over the Tamil Tigers, that “additional restrictions” meant it had no choice but to halt its activities.

About 265,000 ethnic Tamils were displaced in the military’s recent offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, and many of them have been sent to overcrowded camps in the country’s north.

here is a rare eyewitness account inside these concentration camps from the world socialist website:

There are four major detention centres for Tamil civilians at Chettikulam, in an area known as Manik Farm, about 33 kilometres west of Vavuniya. Each camp houses about 40,000 people. A few people we spoke to had been allowed to visit Manik Farm and described them as overcrowded with minimal facilities.

In Vavuniya itself, refugees have been housed in 23 small detention centres established in public schools and other government buildings. Every camp is packed with between 1,000 and 3,000 people. We were able to visit two schools. Both centres were guarded by armed policemen and soldiers. Barbed wire fences have been set up around the camps. Few people are allowed inside. The media is completely barred.

At one school, we could only see the faces of people as we spoke to them across a high, razor-wire topped wall. As we spoke to one person, two children began crying, asking us to take them away from the camp. Inside, up to 40 people are crammed into each school room. Small tents have been erected in school grounds.

From what various people told us, conditions inside the camps are crowded and unhygenic. In some centres, detainees can bathe twice a week. In others, there is not even enough water to wash. There are not enough toilets in any of the camps and hundreds of people have to use one toilet. Infectious diseases, including diarrhea, viral fever and chickenpox, are becoming common.

We were told that hundreds of children had been wounded during the fighting over the no-fire zone. Some had still not been treated. Virtually every family we spoke to had lost at least one member. The trauma of being trapped for months in the war zone is now being compounded by the conditions in the camps. No one can leave. Relatives who visit can only provide a few essentials.

Several older people told us that every day the army seizes young men and women from the camps and takes them away. No one knows where. In some cases, masked informers are used to identify “LTTE suspects”. The military claims that about 3,000 LTTE fighters fled with the civilian refugees.

In every sense, these centres are concentration camps. The armed police and soldiers who zealously guard them, are to not there to “protect” the refugees as the govenment cynically claims, but to prevent anyone from leaving and any information from filtering out.

We tried but were unable to visit Vavuniya general hospital. Armed guards are posted to prevent anyone from entering. Visitors have to nominate a particular patient and are thoroughly checked. Those who had been inside told us that the hospital was overflowing with patients in beds, on the floors, in the corridors and temporarily erected tents.

Several detainees spoke to us about the conditions inside the camps.

A 37-year-old woman was being held at one school with her two children. “We were forced to flee to the army-controlled area due to the intolerable shelling and hunger. We were kept in a school before being brought here.

“[Before we left the no-fire zone], there was a huge blast while an aircraft was flying overhead. A lot of people were wounded or killed, including my husband. My husband was a teacher. Since his death, my children do not talk much. I ask myself why we were left alive. Since we left our home about three months ago we have not had a proper meal.”

She explained that she was afraid the army would drag her way like other young women.

A man in his sixties condemned the government’s claim that the military had been conducting a humanitarian mission to “liberate” Tamil civilians. “No one in the world should have to experience this tragedy,” he said.

He explained that while he and his family were fleeing with others, his wife had been killed in an air strike. His sister and several others died on the way. “I am living to expose these atrocities when I get an opportunity. The security forces think that each and every Tamil is an LTTE member and an enemy,” he said angrily.

Another person explained: “We are herded here like animals and are compelled eat whatever we are provided. We have lost everything. But still we can work. They should allow us to leave and settle in our own places.”

what makes these atrocities possible? well, in spite of the fact that some european union countries are expressing outrage, the fact is that they aided and abetted the sri lankan government in its genocide and now in its concentration camps as leigh phillips reports for the eu observer:

The European Union on Monday (18 May) called for an independent inquiry into alleged human rights violations resulting from the conflict in Sri Lanka and demanded those responsible be held to account.

However, at the same as issuing strong language condemning attacks on civilians, certain EU member states continue to arm the Sri Lankan authorities in breach of the EU’s code of conduct on arms exports, according to the latest data from European governments.

“The EU is appalled by the loss of innocent civilian lives as a result of the conflict and by the high numbers of casualties, including children, following recent intense fighting in northern Sri Lanka,” said European foreign ministers in a statement following a meeting in Brussels on Monday (18 May).

“The EU calls for the alleged violations of these laws to be investigated through an independent inquiry,” the statement continued. “Those accountable must be brought to justice.”

A number of EU member states – including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the UK, France, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland – have however continued to arm the Sri Lankan government since the election of hardline president Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005.

According to the EU’s latest report on arms export licences published in December, the nine governments authorised arm sales licences to Sri Lanka to the value of €4.09 million in 2007, the same year that Colombo launched its final offensive on the Tamil rebels.

The licensed material ranges from small weapons, ammunition and explosives to missiles, ground vehicles, naval vessels and aircraft, with the eastern European member states mainly supplying small arms, while western member states sell the bigger hardware. Additionally, in 2008, Slovakia authorised the sale of 10,000 rockets to the country.

The EU report is compiled annually to ensure that European countries comply with the EU’s Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. Until 2008, the Code had not been legally-binding but instead more of an ethical benchmark for the EU club.

there are some hypocritical americans speaking out about these war crimes, though, of course, they would never–and have never–done the same thing for palestinians despite the fact that the contexts are so very similar. here is the tamil news network report:

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives in a communication sent to President Obama said that the United States has to take concrete actions to to hold the Sri Lankan state accountable for its actions for rebuffing the international community, and urged the President to instruct the Department of Justice to look into the possible linkage of Sri Lanka officials to crimes committed during the prosecution of the war. The note mentioned Gotabaya Rajapakse, Basil Rajapakse, and Sarath Fonseka as possible perpetrators of war crimes.

“All credible efforts by members of the international community, including those by the United States through our outstanding Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake, and those of Britain, France, Norway and the European Union, were either rebuffed or went mostly ignored by the Sri Lankan Government, which has made a determination that it will resolve the issue militarily.

“It has become increasingly obvious that the Sri Lankan government believes that there will be no political price to pay for its impunity. We believe this must change and that there are concrete measures that United States can take right now to hold the Sri Lankan state accountable for its actions, now and in the future,” the communication said.

“[W]e call on you to instruct our Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to immediately call for an emergency session of the Security Council to discuss the ongoing situation in Sri Lanka,” the letter added.

“We ask you to publicly instruct the U.S. Executive Director to the IMF to use his voice and vote to suspend any further action on the pending $1.9b loan to Sri Lanka,” the letter further said.

meanwhile jeremy page in the times online takes some of this context and explains this is why the consumer boycott of sri lanka is necessary:

The next time you buy some lingerie, a T-shirt or a pair of rubber gloves, you may want to reflect on this: they were probably made in Sri Lanka. And, like it or not, your purchase plays a role in the debate over how to respond to the Sri Lankan Government’s successful but brutal military campaign against the Tamil Tiger rebels, which reached its bloody climax this week.

Since 2005 Sri Lanka has been allowed to sell garments to the European Union without import tax as part of a scheme designed to help it to recover from the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. That means its clothes are 10 per cent cheaper than those from China and other competitors – helping the island to earn at least $2.9 billion (£1.9 billion) from the EU annually. Britain accounts for much of that.

Britain has also helped to rebuild Sri Lanka’s tourist industry: Britons accounted for 18.5 per cent of the foreigners who visited the former colony’s famous beaches, wildlife parks, tea plantations and Buddhist temples last year. Only India sends more tourists. Many Britons also own property there, especially around the southern city of Galle, not far from where Arthur C.Clarke, the British science fiction writer who settled in Sri Lanka, used to love to scuba dive.

So the question facing British shoppers and holidaymakers is this: should they continue to support Sri Lanka’s garment and tourist industries? Sadly, the answer must be no.

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