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Sri Lanka: The Modern Moral Malaise

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The Modern Moral Malaise Behind Blind-Eyed Acceptance of Sri Lanka Genocide
by C. L. Cook
The stage for the current disaster befalling the Tamil minority of Sri Lanka was set seventy-two years ago last month. On April 27th, 1937, Hitler's Condor Legion fell from the blazing blue sky upon Guernica, a small Basque town in Northern Spain.
Picasso's Guernica  1937
Aiding allied dictator, Francisco Franco, Luftwaffe bombers pounded the civilian population, killing hundreds and maiming thousands more. Though not the first time civilians had been intentionally targeted, Guernica marked a turning point in the way conflicts were to be handled in the 20th Century. In the brave new world of warfare home was where the battle was; and everyone was the enemy.
From Trench to Total War in one generation.

The razing of Guernica, timid by today's standards, elicited global outrage and condemnation of Hitler and Franco. Books and articles, poems and letters to the editor were written in protest, and the most famous artist of the day, Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso recorded his revulsion in his famous painting, Guernica.
Though the original Guernica adorns the halls of the United Nations Security Council chambers to this day, it isn't likely to be joined by similar contemporary works, perhaps titled: Falluja; Gaza; Beirut; Mogadishu; Belgrade; or Grozny, any time soon. So what hope do a people whose struggle few in the broader world are either aware of or understand have?
Grozny 2005

Tamil/Sinhalese enmity in Sri Lanka predates the country's renaming, going back to the post colonial days on British Ceylon. Thousands have died in Sri Lanka, and India, over the generations, but now, spurred perhaps by colonial examples in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Chechnya, and Palestine, the Sri Lankan generals have grasped firmly the final solution to their Tiger troubles, seemingly bent on wiping out as many Tamil as possible.
Their hope may be to share in the impunity, international precedents set by a growing retinue of greater and lesser nations in the world, defying morality and discrimination in their war-making too.

The desperation of the diaspora Tamil boiled over in Canada this week, seeing thousands of expatriot Sri Lankans and their supporters blockading a major highway artery into the country's financial heartland, Toronto in protest of the appalling bloodshed. Sadly, theirs is just another in a growing litany of asymmetrical massacres around the world. Talk radio gormlessly worried listeners with approbriums like: "What if all of Canada's minorities with an axe to grind blocked highways?"

Nothing and nobody would move.
And that would be a good start in my book. Below is one of the many messages I've been receiving with increasing frequency about this entirely unacceptable situation, where tens of thousands of innocents are in peril of imminent destruction, while the rest of us go about our business as usual.


Dear friends: A modern day bloodbath is unfolding on the small island of Sri Lanka and the key to stopping this humanitarian disaster lies with Sri Lanka’s largest donor and closest partner in the region -- Japan. Let´s send a powerful message to the Japanese Foreign Minister asking for pressure to stop the killing.

A modern day bloodbath is unfolding on the small island of Sri Lanka, where a thousand civilians were reported killed over the weekend and tens of thousands of innocent people are literally at risk of being killed this week, as government and rebel forces battle it out over the last small patch of rebel held territory.

Now that the US has begun to increase its pressure, the solution to stopping this humanitarian disaster lies with Sri Lanka’s key donor and closest partner in the region -- Japan. It has powerful political and economic influence over the Sri Lankan government and a swing vote at the UN Security Council, which up until now has turned a blind eye to this mounting catastrophe.

Click here to send a message to the Japanese Foreign Minister, who is deciding his government's next steps. Japan cares about its international reputation and a flood of messages from abroad would encourage them to act. If Japan moves then the Sri Lankan government will be forced to immediately respond to protect civilians:

As last weekend´s carnage testifies, every minute counts for the estimated 50,000 civilians still trapped inside the shrinking conflict zone and for those 200,000 more who are barely surviving in overcrowded camps. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which rarely makes public comment, called this conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil rebels, 'nothing short of catastrophic'.

Until now, the divided UN Security Council has abdicated their responsibility to protect Sri Lankans from war crimes and other atrocities. But in this conflict Japan cannot be ignored – it's powerful voice could tip the balance and influence the conflict dynamics, saving lives in the short-term and promoting peace and development in the long run.

Asia's longest-running civil war is entering its final stage – the only question is how many will die before it ends. Let´s send a powerful message urging Foreign Minister Nakasone to act responsibly and lead international efforts to push the Tamil rebels to release the remaining civilians, stop the government bombing and bring sustainable peace to Sri Lanka. Japan's political and economic weight means that they cannot be ignored:

As other donor nations increase the pressure behind the scenes this week, a truly global citizens' outcry can further turn the heat on the Japanese government to use its leverage and push for a robust and concerted international action that stops the bloodshed and protect the Sri Lankan civilian population at risk. Thank you for sending your message today.

With hope

Luis, Brett, Alice, Graziela, Pascal, Ben, Ricken, Paula, Iain, Paul, Raj and the rest of the Avaaz Team

Doctor reports hundreds of bodies being brought to hospital as UN says feared bloodbath has become reality - 11 May 2009 -

Four leading international organisations call on Japan to play a more active role in confronting the unfolding catastrophe in Sri Lanka. Press release:

Full text of the letter at:

The US accuses Sri Lanka of causing “untold suffering” among civilians, and calls on rebels to release civilians stuck in the conflict zone:

For information about the UN Security Council discussions on Sri Lanka:


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[Thanks to Mehdi Nejari and the Victoria Peace Coalition for the following reference links on roots of Sri Lankan violence.- lex]

Sir Lanka & Genocide

Canadian Tamil Congress


On Sri Lanka, PM has a chance to lead

Center Stage for the 21st Century : Power Plays in the Indian Ocean

Read It To Believe It: Israels Ties in Sri Lanka

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Resentments in Sri Lanka Reflect Challenges to Peace

New Democrats launch petition to stop violence in Sri Lanka

Urge Obama to act to save lives in Sri Lanka

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