Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2702

British colonial masters getting ready to intervene in Sri Lanka with NGOs

H. L. D. Mahindapala

After sowing the seeds of communal dissension in Sri Lanka under British occupation (1789-1948), after giving advantages to the Tamils of the north under the British divide and rule policy, after refusing to take any action initially to curb Tamil Tiger terrorism in UK soil under the pretext of these Tamil terrorists not having violated any UK laws, after giving a wink-and-a-nudge for the Tamil Tiger in UK to run their business as usual by the laws enforcing authorities turning a blind eye to the violations of its own laws and international laws (including digging the pitch at Lords), after providing safe havens, including the establishment of the headquarters of Tamil Tigers in London, to glorify terrorism and after giving the agents of Tamil Tiger terrorists all the facilities to raise funds to destabilize democratically elected governments the British government is now moving to interfere directly in favor of the Tamils disregarding the aspirations and the rights of all other communities.

Claiming that the “UK security forces have acquired expertise (principally from Northern Ireland and UN Peacekeeping operations) in policing conflict zones in a way that reduces tensions and violence” the British Department for International Development (DFID), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) have jointly written Peace Building Strategy (PBS) for Sri Lanka. To implement this, the High Commission in Colombo has already set up “an innovative Political and Development Section…..which works in tandem with the High Commission’s Defence Section, using £2 million from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool.” This is a part of the program of the Global Conflict Prevention Pool set up by the British government to ease tensions and conflicts. (More of this later).

PBS will be carried out by the British High Commission’s Political and Development Section with 4 UK staff, from the FCO and DFID, and 6 Sri Lankan staff together with the High Commissions Defence section with 2 staff from the MOD. These will be supported by central resources from the three departments in London.

Predictably, a key feature of this strategy is to include the discredited and hired NGO agents pushing the agenda of the mono-ethnic extremists of the north. The British PBS repeatedly emphasizes:

* Support innovative civil society mechanisms for peace building;

* Help strengthen civil society to play an enhanced role in the search for peace.

* A strengthened civil society more effective in peace building.

PBS report adds: “To make progress towards achieving PBS objectives, a wider range of civil society actors will need to engage in meaningful dialogue with government, other actors, the public and the international community to influence policy and bring about sustainable change.

The UK will therefore:

* Encourage the engagement of a wider range of partners (including the private sector, religious organisations, the media, regional universities, political groups and other key opinion formers) in initiatives in peace building;

* Support innovative civil society mechanisms for peace building; and

* Help strengthen civil society to play an enhanced role in the search for peace.

The UK strategy is in essence a rehash of the existing policies and programs of the NGOs. Its main aim is to give the NGOs a bigger role under British patronage. The following statement in the British PBS indicates clearly that it has copied the NGO strategy of infiltrating key areas to push their political line. PBS line says: “Encourage the engagement of a wider range of partners (including the private sector, religious organisations, the media, regional universities, political groups and other key opinion formers) in initiatives in peace building.”

This means that the British plan to bring Jehan Perera, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Kumar Rupesinghe – all NGOs without any grassroots contacts – to push their programme of appeasing only one community at the expense of all other communities. These are all anti-Sinhala-Buddhist activists who have consistently plugged the political line of mono-ethnic extremists from the north. The British strategy is to go down the same track of roping in the Buddhist monks, academics, media, political groups and other opinion makers to manipulate them to make further concessions to only one armed ethnic group in Sri Lanka ignoring the legitimate aspirations and claims of other communities.

Another key feature is to push the Norwegians and their political line of sticking to the Ceasefire Fire Agreement which is in tatters after the Tamil Tigers violated 98% of its terms and conditions, according the Scandinavian Peace monitors.

The British claim that their strategy is to:

* A greater commitment to negotiated peace;

* Improved safety and security in communities and adherence to human rights;

* A governance reform agenda in key institutions, particularly the security services, to strengthen underlying conditions for a lasting peace; and

* A strengthened civil society more effective in peace building.

Like all imported agendas of NGOs the British intervention is also to change the policies of the Government without making commensurate efforts to change the policies of the centre of political evil – the Vanni. PBS has not addressed any significant issue that would change the politics of the one-man dictatorship running the most appalling Terroristan, dehumanizing the 600,000 Tamils kept under its jackboots. Improvements in governance, security and human rights are only for the democratically elected government in the south and not to the Terroristan in the Vanni.

Oddly enough, the British which claims to “have acquired expertise (principally from Northern Ireland and UN Peacekeeping operations) in policing conflict zones in a way that reduces tensions and violence” has no comparable record of reducing tensions and capturing territory with the minimum of fuss as in the east and the north. A political commentator said that the British PBS is like teaching grandmothers to suck eggs. The Sri Lankan security forces have fought the most deadly of terrorist and have won with the horrors of Iraq or Afghanistan. There is room for improvement, no doubt, and those are welcome. But there is no comparable attempt to curb or reform the war crimes and the crimes against humanity that go unpunished in the Tamil Teroristan.

The British PBS reports sheds crocodile tears for the “human lives and suffering of 25 years of fighting in Sri Lanka has been immense (where) 70,000 people, have been killed, half a million internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands of others have left the country seeking a better life overseas.” What it does not mention is that this scale of suffering would not have occurred if the British took early action to curb the flow of money from its soil to fund terrorism in Sri Lanka. The British principally have been the protectors of Tamil Tiger terrorists.

The British helped to export terrorism to Sri Lanka and now they are shedding copious tears of sorrow at the loss of human lives and sufferings. It’s a bit too late, isn’t it Jack?

Here is an extract from the British PBS report which could have been penned easily by Evelyn Waugh, in one of his satirical novels:

“The British government has an interest in seeing a lasting peace in Sri Lanka which brings benefits to all sectors of society. Conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE/Tamil Tigers) has blighted Sri Lanka for decades. Violence and suffering is a daily occurrence.

“The UK’s added value in peace building lies in our flexible, cross-government approach and our experience of peace processes, especially from Northern Ireland. Our specialist expertise in key sectors, such as security sector transformation, and our cultural links with Sri Lanka puts us in a good position to support peace building in Sri Lanka.

“Why is the UK involved

“The UK’s concern for human rights and good governance, and our commitment to advance the Millennium Development Goals, coupled with the need to combat the global threat from terrorism, international crime and the drugs trade, means it is important for the UK to encourage a sustained peace in Sri Lanka. Equally important is the need to reduce the pressure for migration and asylum, and reap the mutual beneficial business opportunities a peaceful Sri Lanka would offer.

“The PBS is well grounded in previous research, in particular the UK’s Peace-Building and Reconciliation Strategy of 2002 and the second, multi-donor, Strategic Conflict Assessment of 2005, partly funded by the UK. “

These high-sounding morals come from the sermons of the British government that plundered nations, decimated the natives of America, Africa and Australia, bombed the hell out of Dresden to weaken Hitler, denied the fundamental rights of the millions in its colonies, invaded Malvinas with the blessings of the Archbishop of Canterbury, destroyed the native cultures, and continue to back military adventures in the Middle East leading to on one occasion the deaths of 600,000 children caused by a maritime cordon thrown round Iraq to prevent medical and food supplies getting through. Besides, there is no strategy laid out for the laying down of arms of the Tamil Tigers which was an essential requirement in the Irish peace deal. With al the experience in Ireland why has this been omitted in building peace in Sri Lanka? How credible is the British peace building strategy for peace in Sri Lanka?

There is, however, one line in the PBS report which contains a fundamental truth: “Only Sri Lankans can create peace in Sri Lanka, and unlock Sri Lanka’s full potential, but we believe that the international community can help create the conditions that are necessary for a sustainable transition to peace. “

This line is absolutely true. So the most sensible action open to Britain is to let the Sri Lankans solve it their way and come in only in defence of peace and stability by helping the Sri Lankan government to defeat terrorism with unqualified support as it has shown a capacity to handle terrorism on its own terms and with a commendable degree of competence.

It should also be noted that there is provision in the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, for the British government “to supply military equipment where this forms part of an integrated conflict prevention strategy and is crucial to ensuring the stability of a conflict area and to the success of the strategy.

Such decisions are scrutinised carefully, often at ministerial level. The Pool takes into account the risk of any equipment supplied being misused by the recipient or falling into other hands, and the likely political consequences. Ministers will always take the final decision on any supply of weapons and ammunition.”

Now that the Sri Lankan Security Forces have proved their capacity to tackle the Tamil Tiger terrorists and ease the tensions and conflicts in the east shouldn’t the Global Conflict Prevention Pool consider seriously the need to supply the necessary arms and armaments, as the British would to their forces fighting terrorism in conflict areas like Afghanistan and Iraq?

A move like this would be more meaningful in combating terrorism and preventing the gross violations of human rights both in the south and in the north as it would eliminate the cntre of evil that causes gross violations of human rights. There can be no peace, stability, or protection of human rights as long as this centre of evil exists. The circuitous strategy of the PBS has been tried and tested before with no discernible benefits.

Besides, crying about human rights is the most lucrative business in the conflict zones. These cries, though valuable to a certain extent, is not going to resolve the crisis faced by the Sri Lankans. Sadly, these cries are politicized for the benefits of the professional peddlers of human rights and the Tamil Tigers whose weapon in defeat is to cry for human rights whilst denying it to the Tamils and their political rivals. Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) has to go beyond the worn out rituals of regurgitating human rights issues which may make them look good initially but lets them down in the end as it does not provide an effective remedy to protect human rights. GCPP will be merely tilting at windmills if the continue to ignore the primary source that generates the violations of human rights – the Vanni regime.

As a footnote, it must be mentioned that the PBS for Sri Lanka is a part of the British goody-goody program to prevent global conflicts. The blurb says: “ UK’s Global Conflict Prevention Pool, along with the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool,….. is a unique funding arrangement specifically voted by parliament for conflict prevention and reduction.

“The Global Conflict Prevention Pool and the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool were set up by the UK government with the aim of reducing the number of people around the world whose lives are affected by violent conflict and, ultimately, of cutting the number of conflicts that occur. This report looks at how the Global Pool has been working towards these targets in the two years to March 2003, prevention strategy. For example, the Pool has funded the provision of election monitors in areas of high tension, initiatives aimed at re-establishing the rule of law in the Balkans, and human rights projects in Nepal.”

Critics of human rights programs of Western governments have been very cautious about the motives behind such programs. Invariably, Western governments use it to push their programs of interfering with governments on the pretext of upholding human rights. The British Global Pool engages in human rights programs in Afghanistan, The Balkans, Belize and Guatemala, Central and Eastern Europe, India and Pakistan, Indonesia and East Timor, The Middle East and North Africa, Nepal, Russia and the former Soviet Union, and Sri Lanka. In all its interventions it makes use of the local NGOs funded by Western governments.

Here is the full text of the British PBS report on Sri Lanka:

Last updated: August 2007

Last Modified: 16-Aug-2007

Aim:

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is committed to helping build a peaceful, prosperous equitable Sri Lanka where the rights of all communities are respected and protected. The direct impact on human lives and suffering of 25 years of fighting in Sri Lanka has been immense. 70,000 people, have been killed, half a million internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands of others have left the country seeking a better life overseas.

The main barrier to unleashing Sri Lanka’s great potential is the violent conflict which drains financial, human and social capacity. Conflict affected areas lag well behind the rest of the country in economic and social development.

Proposed Action:

The UK Peace Building Strategy (PBS) sets out how the British government will support the conditions necessary for a sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. It is jointly written by the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence.

The strategy lays out how, between 2006 and 2009, the UK will continue to help Sri Lankans’ bring an end to the conflict and build a lasting peace through:

* A greater commitment to negotiated peace;

* Improved safety and security in communities and adherence to human rights;

* A governance reform agenda in key institutions, particularly the security services, to strengthen underlying conditions for a lasting peace; and

* A strengthened civil society more effective in peace building.

The British government has an interest in seeing a lasting peace in Sri Lanka which brings benefits to all sectors of society. Conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE/Tamil Tigers) has blighted Sri Lanka for decades. Violence and suffering is a daily occurrence. Only Sri Lankans can create peace in Sri Lanka, and unlock Sri Lanka’s full potential, but we believe that the international community can help create the conditions that are necessary for a sustainable transition to peace.

The UK’s added value in peace building lies in our flexible, cross-government approach and our experience of peace processes, especially from Northern Ireland. Our specialist expertise in key sectors, such as security sector transformation, and our cultural links with Sri Lanka puts us in a good position to support peace building in Sri Lanka.

Why is the UK involved

The UK’s concern for human rights and good governance, and our commitment to advance the Millennium Development Goals, coupled with the need to combat the global threat from terrorism, international crime and the drugs trade, means it is important for the UK to encourage a sustained peace in Sri Lanka. Equally important is the need to reduce the pressure for migration and asylum, and reap the mutual beneficial business opportunities a peaceful Sri Lanka would offer.

The PBS is well grounded in previous research, in particular the UK’s Peace-Building and Reconciliation Strategy of 2002 and the second, multi-donor, Strategic Conflict Assessment of 2005, partly funded by the UK.

How will the UK deliver the Peace Building Strategy?

British Government will support peace building between 2006 and 2009 through a range of activities focusing on four key objectives:

Objective 1: A greater commitment to negotiated peace

Peace in Sri Lanka is not achievable without an inclusive political process. And a political process cannot take place against a background of enduring violence. A critical condition for a lasting peace is gaining the commitment of all parties to achieve a negotiated settlement to the conflict. For this to be sustainable it must be supported at many levels, by a wide variety of national and international actors. Progress towards this objective requires sustained and consistent political and diplomatic engagement, supported by practical initiatives.

Activity

The UK will:

* Support the efforts of the Norwegians, the facilitators to the existing peace process;

* Help foster a supportive international environment for the peace process including through our membership of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN);

* Use the broad range of UK contacts to encourage the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to end violence and commit themselves to dialogue;

* Encourage key opinion formers, including those in the UK diaspora, to pursue every avenue for peacefully resolving the conflict; and

* Support work on peace building from community level to international negotiations.

Objective 2: Improved safety and security in communities and adherence to human rights.

People in Sri Lanka feel insecure in their day to day lives particularly following the increased violence and human rights violations. Violence and human rights violations are a symptom of the conflict, but they also sustain the conflict as trust between communities erodes. For peace to be sustainable, Sri Lankans need to have a greater sense of confidence and control over the security and management of their lives.

Activity:

The UK will seek to:

* Strengthen local capacity for managing conflicts within communities;

* Increase the opportunities for people to seek redress for grievances and human rights violations, through improved access to justice;

* Support efforts to enhance the conduct and human rights record of the security forces including through training on human rights and international Humanitarian Law;

* Work with local stakeholders, the UN and other agencies to attempt to improve the human rights situation in Sri Lanka;

* Support processes that reduce the availability and impact of small arms, taking action at community, national and regional level; and

* Work with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and like minded countries to promote Human Rights in Sri Lanka, including through the UN Human Rights Council.

Human Security in the East of Sri Lanka

Since 2003, the British Government has been supporting the local Foundation for co-existence (FCE) to design and establish an innovative system of conflict early warning and rapid response. It has 20 field monitors who collect information on a daily basis and an Information Centre that analyses information to identify political and social tensions in the east of the country.

The programme monitors human security in order to help decision-makers in government, international organisations and NGOs better anticipate, prevent, mitigate and respond to conflict situations. The programme also includes a locally managed conflict prevention programme for responding to increased tensions. It translates analysis into action by supporting the development of a network of organisations and individuals with a capacity for early response in conflict resolution. An early warning system was initiated whereby information is sent by text messages to policy makers and local mediators as soon as incidents occur. This enables more rapid responses aimed at reducing tension and violence before it spirals.

An independent evaluation found that, ‘FCE’s Human Security Programme has prevented violence, either directly through interventions by staff members or indirectly by the efforts of the networks that FCE has helped create.

Objective 3: A governance reform agenda in key institutions, particularly the security services, to strengthen underlying conditions for a lasting peace.

The reform of key public institutions is crucial for Sri Lanka to be able to move towards a more sustainable peace. This objective aims to address governance issues, particularly in the security sector. It will, by necessity, be long-term and require sustained international engagement.

The UK security forces have acquired expertise (principally from Northern Ireland and UN Peacekeeping operations) in policing conflict zones in a way that reduces tensions and violence. In 2001 the UK government established the Security Sector Development Advisory Team (SSDAT) as a centre of excellence for UK supported Security Sector Reform (SSR) activity, as part of its Global Conflict Prevention Pool activity. The SSDAT have a broad range of expertise on Policing, Justice, Defence and Intelligence and Security. They are available to provide practical support to the Peace Building Strategies objectives in Sri Lanka.

Activity

The UK will work with the Sri Lankan government and security forces to assist them meet international best practice on the accountability and oversight of democratic security forces, through:

* Development of policy and training in peacekeeping operations, civil military relations, international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict;

* Support of initiatives to help develop civil oversight of defence policy and military activity in order to promote transparency and accountability;

* Support for improved civil-military co-operation at regional, national and local level, with more effective co-operation between civilians, security services and government institutions;

* Educational and bilateral exchange activities with Sri Lankan defence force personnel to develop Security Sector Development skills;

* Improving English and Tamil language capacity of the police, military and judicial sector to enable enhanced communications with all sectors of society, and increased access to the services of national and local government; and

* Work with the Sri Lankan Police to support their development of a community based policing programme.

Objective 4: A Strengthened civil society more effective in peace building

To make progress towards achieving PBS objectives, a wider range of civil society actors will need to engage in meaningful dialogue with government, other actors, the public and the international community to influence policy and bring about sustainable change.

Activity

The UK will therefore:

* Encourage the engagement of a wider range of partners (including the private sector, religious organisations, the media, regional universities, political groups and other key opinion formers) in initiatives in peace building;

* Support innovative civil society mechanisms for peace building; and

* Help strengthen civil society to play an enhanced role in the search for peace.

Facilitating Local Initiatives for Conflict Transformation

Facilitating Local Initiatives for Conflict Transformation (FLICT) supports local initiatives to build the capacities of people to address conflicts in a peaceful manner. Since 2003, FLICT has supported more than 60 initiatives involving youth, women, regional level politicians, artists, media, the business community, religious leaders and the general public. 75% of FLICT partners operates outside of Colombo, including in areas of ethnic tension. FLICT partners work towards to promoting understanding amongst ethnic and religious groups (including through music and theatre), as well as supporting diversity and tolerance among these communities.

Programmes seek to address root causes of violent conflict by, for example, the establishment of village level citizen communities to address contentious resource and development issues in a peaceful manner, and co-ordinating advocacy for non-violent elections in traditional ‘hot spots’ of the south. These initiatives help prevent political violence by constructively engaging with all communities, their leaders and local and regional politicians.

The UK will work closely with the government of Sri Lanka and other local actors. We will also work in partnership with the international community – especially the Tokyo Co-Chairs, the EU, the UN, international financial institutions and development partners – co-ordinating and complementing our work with theirs.

We have created an innovative Political and Development Section in the High Commission in Colombo which works in tandem with the Defence Section to implement the PBS, using funds from the UK’s Global Conflict Prevention Pool. PBS programmes will take a long-term approach aimed at tackling the underlying causes of the conflict. Evaluation and lesson learning will be central to our activity. The PBS is intended to be a living document: tight enough to give focus to our activities, but sufficiently flexible to adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities as they arise.

Resources

Implementation of the Peace Building strategy will be carried out by the British High Commission’s Political and Development Section with 4 UK staff, from the FCO and DFID, and 6 Sri Lankan staff together with the High Commissions Defence section with 2 staff from the MOD. These will be supported by central resources from the three departments in London.

Funding for projects in 2007-2008 will be £2 million from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool.


Sri Lanka Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Share this


.