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How do we see ourselves?

13 July 2016 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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People walk through the charred ruins of Nagasaki, shortly after an atomic bomb destroyed much of the city. The explosion generated heat estimated at 3,900 degrees Celsius (4,200 K, 7,000 °F). (USAF) #

July is back again to haunt us. It was thirty-three years ago on the 24th of this month some of the most shameful events whose scars are still raw, overtook this country. Mobs, with the complicit backing of the government of the day, slaughtered hundreds of Tamils in an orgy of 
blood-letting.   


The shameful events which commenced at eventide on 24 July 1983 on the streets of Borella that evening, gave birth to a brutal, near three-decade-long Tamil insurgency led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and was brought to a bloody end by the waters of the isthmus of Nanthikadal on 18 May 2009, when the Sri Lankan military crushed the uprising.  
It has been estimated that between 40,000 - 100,000 civillian Tamils died during the military onslaught, when the LTTE leadership used Tamil civilians as a 
human shield.   


The Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols to which Sri Lanka is a signatory, are international treaties containing rules that govern the waging of war. The Convention attempts to limit the barbarity of war and protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medical personnel, aid workers, wounded, sick, and prisoners of war).  


While even today –nearly six years after the conclusion of that civil war- large sections of Sri Lanka’s population are still unable to bring themselves to fault the armed forces for causing large-scale death and destruction to such large numbers of civilians. However, the international community via the United Nations (UN), led by the US is demanding punitive measures against the perpetrators of large-scale ‘human rights violation’ during the recently concluded civil conflict.  


In September 2015, UN investigators charged the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE of crimes ranging from indiscriminate attacks on civilians, torture and rape of detainees and 
extrajudicial killings.  


In October of the same year the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution calling for foreign judges and prosecutors to take part in Sri Lanka’s efforts to try those accused of serious crimes during and after the country’s civil war.  


We recognise the US-sponsored Resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC as being hypocritical and deceitful. While the US criticizes human rights violation and non-adherence of the Geneva Convention in Sri Lanka, even today the US continues bombing civilians in Iraq and continues attacks on civilian targets in Afghanistan.   


Since the US intervention in Afghanistan, over 26,000 civilian deaths due to war-related violence have been documented. In Iraq counts of deaths reported in newspapers collated by projects like the ‘Iraq Body Count’ project found 174,000 Iraqis reported killed between 2003 and 2013, with between 112,000 - 123,000 of those killed being civilian noncombatants.  


On March 9, 1945 the US firebombed Tokyo, one of World War II’s deadliest days needlessly killing over 100,000 civillians in a single air raid.   


On August 1945, the US dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the effects of the atomic bombings killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 
in Nagasaki.

 
In 1995 the US entered the war in Vietnam. It is estimated civilian deaths in N. Vietnam resulting from US bombing range from 50,000 – 65,000  
According to ‘ The Centre for Global Research on Globalisation’ the US has intervened in 37 victim nations since World War II, leaving in its trail hundreds of thousands of 
non-combatant victims.  


But what is important to us here in Sri Lanka is not the misdeeds of the US or how many civilians they killed worldwide. Nor should we be troubled by the fact even more recently the UNHCR was forced for monetary consideration to edit a section of the UNHRC report on Saudi as pointed out by DM correspondent Mr. Amin Izzadeen.  


The situation we have to deal with today is the continuing impunity elected officials and members of the armed forces continue to enjoy and in this way leave ourselves open to the danger of sliding back into the dark era from which we recently emerged.  


Are we going to bury our collective heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and pretend the atrocities committed during past insurrections 
never happened?   


OR do we have the moral courage to say NO, NEVER AGAIN will we go back to an era of white vans, half-burned bodies littering the streets and extra-judicial killings?  
It boils down to a question of HOW DO WE SEE OURSELVES.  

 

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