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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2584

Cameron's Camouflage : Why British PM did shunned local media

By Sanjaya Arachchige

On May 3 , 1985 Air Lanka flight UL 512 arrived Bandaranayke International Airport (BIA) from Gatwick airport , London. The next stop for the flight was Malé in Maldives . The US made Lockheed Tristar jet was about to take off after an unexpected delay at BIA , when a devastating bomb explosion ripped the 276-seat aircraft into two pieces.

This was the time when the Sri Lanka government was still engaged in the first peace talks with Tamil terrorist groups conducted in Thimpu , Bhutan under the auspices of India. There was a ceasefire in operation at the time. Investigations into the attack revealed that the Tamil Tigers had set the clock of the time bomb to destroy the aircraft while airborne, killing all 128 passengers. The unexpected delay had averted the carnage. The attack marked the beginning of Tamil Tigers’ bloody tradition of breaking ceasefires with surprise attacks at civilian targets.

The ill-fated flight had 128 passengers onboard , mostly British, French and Japanese tourists. Twenty –three of them were killed and 41 suffered injuries in the attack.

Mr. Tim Macpherson his wife Mrs. Mouse Macpherson (Deirdre Higham ) and their daughter , 20-year-old Iona Macpherson were among the 25 British passengers in the aircraft. All three of them were killed and five other Britons were injured in the attack. Tim was a retired British Army officer and the managing director of the largest malting company in the UK at the time. His wife Mrs. Mouse Macpherson was an accomplished artist. Their daughter Iona was the younger sister to Louise and Kate.

One of the journalist of a prominent local English newspaper told me that he was going to ask a question similar to the following from Prime Minister David Cameron , at the media conference he appeared in Colombo recently :

“Honorable Prime Minister , three British citizens of the same family was killed and five others were injured in a Tamil Tiger bomb attack at a passenger airplane in Sri Lanka 1986. Unless for a delay in the departure time , the flight would have been exploded while airborne killing all 25 Britons onboard . Today there is no fear of Tamil Tiger terrorism in Sri Lanka.

As the British Prime Minister what do you have to say to the families of the British victims and the survivors of this terrorist attack ?

Do you think that the justice have been served to them?”

However, the journalist was disappointed. During the said press conference , Mr. Cameron deliberately avoided local journalists and answered only few selected questions from the foreign journalists. Then, he said what he had long planned to say. He slammed Sri Lanka for Human Rights violations, called for an international probe for alleged war crimes, imposed a deadline to act and threatened with UN action.

Mr. Cameron’s statement was a huge hit for the mainstream Western media . It was ideal content for their one-sided reporting of the world affairs edited free by Mr. Cameron. But for the Sri Lankans , who were already irked by the sudden surge of organized smear campaign against their nation during the CHOGM, British Prime Minister’s behavior was no surprise. Mr. Cameron knew that he could not hide his hypocrisy over Sri Lanka had he allowed questions from local journalists.

In my opinion, Mr. Cameron's deliberate elusion carries the important message to the Sri Lankans than his action before media on that day.

The message is, some Western powers do not consider a peaceful and stable Sri Lanka is in favor of their interests in the region. They are ready do whatever in their power to undermine the stability in our country .In simple terms , they need another bleeding nation , unstable and miserable in the world map strategically positioned in the Indian ocean. Unless we Sri Lankans get a rational understanding of this harsh reality of global power politics, there is very little assurance that our hard-earned peace would last long. The dichotomy between the “walk” and “talk” over accountability and human rights issues in Mr. Cameron’s own realm helps us to understand this reality.

Do Mr. Cameron and British government truly care about protecting human rights in Sri Lankan or human rights in anywhere in the world?

The evidence are that they don't , not in the past or present. It took 15 years since the aforesaid Air Lanka bomb blast for the UK government to proscribe Tamil Tigers as a terrorist group. Until then, the government allowed this terrorist outfit to establish itself firmly in the UK soil through bogus asylum seeking and thrive in all sorts of illegal enterprises. Credit card scams , human smuggling, false charities and extortion rackets are just a few of them .

There is sufficient literature available , though never given publicity in Western mainstream media to show that there were no genocide or war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during any phase of the war. So , there is no point of wasting time over that here . Yet , we must not forget that we lost nearly 100,000 lives in the internecine battle we fought for 26 years. Sri Lanka must engage in a meaningful exercise to find out what went wrong during this dark period of our nation and take necessary steps to avoid recurrence of similar situations. But , Mr. Cameron who blocks an investigation into a slaughter of nearly half a million innocent people in nine years, certainly has no moral right to question Sri Lanka's accountability or give deadlines to take action.

The latest research published in November 2013 on Iraq reveals , the US-UK led invasion on Iraq 2003 and subsequent occupation has killed 461,000 Iraq people in a 9-year span from 2003 to 2011. The research was undertaken by the volunteer researchers of University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University Simon Fraser University and Mustansiriya University with the cooperation of Iraqi Ministry of Health. The report further says, the US-UK led coalition forces are responsible for 35% of these deaths.

Irrespective of the fact that Ms. Navi Pillay of UNHRC never cared to lay wreaths in memory of innocent people killed in Iraq or Mr. Ban Ki-moon never ordered his international eminent person to write reports on the US-UK led offensive in Iraq, there is ample evidence to show the invasion was illegal. Then US President George Bush Jr. and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were accused of war crimes for ordering this invasion based on intelligence that they allegedly had the knowledge to be false.

Interestingly, Mr. Cameron who gives deadlines for Sri Lanka to do justice to an unfounded number of 40,000 people killed in Sri Lanka denies the justice for half a million people murdered due to a war waged on unfounded intelligence. Mr. Cameron has been accused of engaged in a foot dragging tactic to delay the proceeding of Chilcott inquiry setup by his predecessor Gordon Brown to investigate the UK’s excesses in Iraq invasion. Recent media reports reveal that Mr. Cameron has made it impossible to continue the investigation led by Sir John Chilcott by refusing to release government documents required by the inquiry. This includes 130 odd conversations between George Bush and Tony Blair plus 25 correspondences between the two and documents of 200 cabinet level discussions related to the Iraq invasion.

Now, that is enough evidence for us to see through Mr. Cameron’s camouflage and comprehend the true motives behind his behavior towards Sri Lanka.

What is important for us at the moment is to understand foreign interests in our nation rationally, so we can make informed decision as a nation before future challenges. That is to say, that we should not let us bog down to conspiracy theories with anti –West sentiments or to get us stuck in a finger-pointing competition with our critics. What we should do is to embrace the reality and continue to support our nation’s progress and stability with resilience.

It is unrealistic to expect genuine support from Western powers for a stable Sri Lanka in the context of rising Chinese and Indian influence in the region. Tamil communalism is one trump that they can use to shatter India’s dream to be a super power if tactfully played. Also, a country plagued with terrorism the Indian ocean can slowdown encroaching Chinese economic power in the region.

On the other hand, we cannot expect people like Callum Macrae to apply their creative yellow journalism to Iraq invasion or Obama’s drone wars. They will not make money or win awards for such work. Also, we will not see any balanced reporting from Western mainstream media as long as Sri Lanka remain stable and continue to grow. Remember they used the word “hawkish” to describe President Rajapaksa even during his first presidential campaign when he promised an end to terrorism in Sri Lanka. Their script will not going to change unless their interests change.

Hence, we can confidently predict that the West will continue to promote instability by supporting ethnic and religious division, funding political dissident groups and recognizing negative campaigns against the country. They will continue to bully and embarrass Sri Lanka at international forums. To their support , they have a strong Tamil Tiger lobby with immense funds to buy enough politicians, journalist and “rights” activists to run the propaganda machine against Sri Lanka. Yet, a nation will not bleed unless its people make the blunder that the foreign interlopers want them to make.

If we look at the troubled nations added to the world map during the last 10 years or so, all of them have come to their present misery because of the blunders made by their leaders and their people. The foreign interlopers can only fan the fire but they cannot start it. We must not let outsiders to take advantage over our internal issues but find solutions among ourselves. Ultimately , it is us who would have to live together or to kill each other .

In my opinion, this is the lesson that our nation has learnt by being the most persecuted host of an international event in the modern history.

- Asian Tribune -

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