Sri Lanka: Bombing A Refugee Camp
Britain and other EU countries sold military equipment worth millions of pounds to the Sri Lankan Government in the last three years of its bloody civil war with the Tamil Tigers, The Times has learnt.
The approval of the sales still raises the question of whether weapons from the EU were used in the last five months of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, during which UN officials estimate that 20,000 civilians were killed.
“I think we need answers about what these were used for,” said Mike Gapes, a Labour MP who chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee and is a member of the Committee on Arms Export Controls.
The sales were cleared despite the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, which restricts transfers to countries facing internal conflicts or with poor human rights records and a history of violating international law.
Human Rights Watch researcher Anna Neistat says both sides in Sri Lanka's conflict are violating the laws of war. Approximately 100,000 civilians are trapped in a government-declared "no-fire zone" in the northern Vanni region. Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels have prevented civilians from leaving a tiny strip of land, while government
forces have repeatedly and indiscriminately shelled the area. (link)
Source photographs of the shelling of makeshift hospitals and civilians in refugee camps in Tamil controlled areas by the Sri Lankan government can be found here, here, here and here.
We in the West need to campaign to stop our own leaders from fueling internal conflict, human rights abuses and war crimes, massive casualties, and poverty through selling arms to be used on civilian populations.
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