World View: Britain Threatens Sri Lanka with War Crimes Investigation

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Pakistan mobilizes army to quell sectarian violence in three cities
  • Britain’s David Cameron threatens Sri Lanka with a war crimes investigation.
  • Generational analysis of the Sri Lanka civil war

Pakistan mobilizes army to quell sectarian violence in three cities

The army in Rawalpindi on Saturday
The army in Rawalpindi on Saturday

A curfew has been ordered in Rawalpindi, a suburb of Pakistan’scapital city Islamabad, after major sectarian clashes on Fridayspawned retaliatory violence on Saturday in at least two other cities.Clashes in Rawalpindi on Friday, when a Shia Muslim procession passedby a Sunni mosque. Ten people were killed and dozens injured, forcingthe army to intervene and impose a curfew. The clashes appear to haveoccurred spontaneously and were not triggered by Taliban attacks, ashappens in many other cases. However, on Saturday, retaliatoryclashes occurred in Rawalpindi and in two cities in southern Pakistan,forcing the army to be called in all of those cases. Daily Times (Pakistan)

Britain’s David Cameron threatens Sri Lanka with a war crimes investigation.

Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa rejected the demand byBritain’s prime minister David Cameron to conduct an internal warcrimes investigation by March, saying, “People who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones.”

The confrontation occurred in the context of the biannual CHOGM (TheCommonwealth Heads of Government Meeting), being held this year in SriLanka. This is the meeting of the leaders of the British Commonwealthof Nations, 53 member nations, mostly former British colonies. TheCommonwealth is considered irrelevant by many, but Britain promotes itas a force for world peace and prosperity.

The major controvery about this year’s CHOGM was whether it should beheld in a country being accused of human rights abuses, stemming fromthe Sri Lanka civil war that ended in 2009. The leaders of India,Mauritius and Canada are boycotting the event.

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron attended CHOGM, but pulled amajor publicity stunt. Cameron left the meeting and went to Jaffna,the heart of Tamil territory, to see for himself the conditions underwhich Tamils continue to live. Cameron said this at a pressconference:

“I told President Rajapaksa that there is need for acredible, transparent and independent internal inquiry into theevents at the end of the war (against LTTE) by the end ofMarch. If that does not happen I will use our position to move theUN Human Rights Commission and work with the Rights Commissionerfor an independent inquiry.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was not moved. He firedback:

“It is his view. This is a democracy. He can saywhatever he wants. People living in glass houses must not throwstone at others.”

Rajapaksa was apparently referring to inquiries into the warin Iraq and into the “Bloody Sunday” massacre in Ireland.

Sri Lanka has very good relations with China and Pakistan, and verypoor relations with India. Sri Lanka is expected to side with Chinain the approaching Clash of Civilization world war, and the islandnation will be an important naval base for China. Australian Broadcasting and BBC

Generational analysis of the Sri Lanka civil war

Long-time readers know that I covered the Sri Lanka civil war prettyclosely. (See “Sri Lanka appears close to war” from 2006.) The civil war followedthe pattern that Generational Dynamics predicts for almost allcivil wars.

Indian subcontinent, with the island of Sri Lanka off the southern tip of India.
Indian subcontinent, with the island of Sri Lanka off the southern tip of India.

World War II was a generational crisis war for Ceylon, and the twoethnic groups, the Sinhalese (who are Buddhist) and Tamils (who areHindu), lived in peace through the generational Recovery era and intothe beginning of the generational Awakening era. But as the post-wargeneration reached adulthood, tensions grew between the two groups,and became very sharp in 1972, , when Ceylon changed its name to SriLanka and Buddhism was given primary place as country’s religion.

What always happens is that low-level conflicts start. Periods ofconflict alternate with periods of peace, but each period of conflictis worse than the last. In 1976, a separatist rebel group was formed,demanding a separate Tamil state. The group called itself theLiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and were called the “TamilTigers” for short. A non-crisis civil war began in 1983, alternatingbetween peace and conflict. The last peace expired in 2006, when warbetween the Tamil Tigers and the Sinhalese army became serious. In2008, the Sri Lanka military commands promised “to defeat the Tamilsonce and for all” by the end of the year. That declaration signalledthat a “regeneracy” had occurred, and a full-scale generational crisiswar was in progress.

What always happens during a generational crisis war is that the valueof an individual human life goes to zero, and the only thing thatmatter is the survival of the society and its way of life. Thishappened to America in World War II, as American soldiers poured ontothe beaches of Normandy and were shot down like fish in a barrel, andthen entire cities in Germany and Japan, including Dresden and Tokyo,were firebombed and destroyed, while other Japanese cities weredestroyed with nuclear weapons.

This is what happens when a generational crisis war reaches a climax.In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers increasingly forced Tamil women andchildren to sit in front of military targets, so that Sinhalese shellswould kill them, which is exactly what the Sinhalese shells did. Atthat point, nobody cared who died.

In early 2009, it was clear that the war was close to ending. Basedon a Generational Dynamics, I predicted that once the Sinhalese armywas victorious, the war would be over, just as the war against Germanyand Japan was completely over in 1945. As far as I know, every otherjournalist and analyst in the world predicted that, with the warhaving gone on for 26 years, it would continue to go on after aSinhalese army victory. Generational Dynamics was right, andeverybody else in the world was wrong. (See “Tamil Tigers surrender, ending the Sri Lanka crisis civil war”)

So now come the recriminations. The Sinhalese army killed, torturedand jailed Tamil civilians, and the Tamils deserve legal retribution.But the same thing happens as the climax of any generational crisiswar approaches and, if you look at the actions of psychopathicgenocidal monster Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, cansometimes happen in non-crisis wars.

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