Part 2: UN and imperialist interest

Click here to read part one: Two years after the massacre – UN produces words but no action: part1

The Sri Lankan government is increasingly relying on the support of China, India and some ‘rogue states’ such as Saudi Arabia. This conflicts with the interests of western imperialism in south Asia. Western imperialism could use the UN report as a lever to re-establish its influence in the region. 

 However, there is a limit to how far the west will go. We should not overestimate that this will lead it to either defend the interests of the oppressed masses, or to advocate the right to self-determination or any political solution.

 Among the traditional left in India some argue that inter-imperialist rivalry can be used to advance the interests of the oppressed. However, without a strong, independent organisation of the working and poor masses, such a strategy risks forcing those who seek to fight back into the imperialists’ trap.

 We have also seen how often the imperialists ‘gang up’ against the interests of the oppressed masses despite their differences. The Indian and Pakistan states, for example, campaigned together against any possible serious critics of the Sri Lankan government. Although Sri Lanka does not possess the huge oil wealth of Libya – one of the main reasons for western imperialism’s intervention – its strategic position, including its significance to china’s regional ambitions, makes it important to the western powers. The measures taken by the imperialists in the Middle East, after the revolutionary wave had begun to spread, provide us with good lessons.

 The so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya is an attempt to halt the sweeping revolutionary wave in the Middle East and with the intention of regaining control of the resources. Gaddafi is an unreliable partner for them, unlike the regimes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. No action has been taken against these regimes despite them also unleashing deadly forces against pro-democracy protesters.

 The British foreign secretary William Hague insisted that his government will ‘deal’ with the Syrian government and president Bashar al-Assad, defending his visit to Syria despite the killings taking place against the protesting masses. Assad is considered as a potential ‘reformer’. This is in complete contradistinction to the interests of the Syrian masses who demand the overthrow of the Assad regime.

Furthermore the role of western powers in Libya has been further discredited by their role in the slaughter of millions of ordinary people in Iraq. The contradictory role of so-called ‘humanitarian concern’ in the region clearly unmasks the imperialist interests of the western governments.

 The idea that, somehow, the oppressed masses should lend their support to the western imperialists’ intervention in Libya- supposedly to prevent the ‘possible massacre’ -is also false. The Egyptian regime, which also voted to support the May 2009 UN resolution on Sri Lanka, was washed away by the historical mass movement of the Egyptian masses. It is such a confident movement that can bring a real end to the regimes like that of Gaddafi.

 Imperialist intervention is another reason why the revolution, which spread from Tunisia and Egypt to Benghazi, is not having a similar impact in Tripoli. Gaddafi was able to mobilise reasonable support, not only based on tribal loyalty, but also based on the anti-imperialist antagonism of the masses. What can prevent the massacre and save the revolution is the action of the united Tripoli masses once it has the confidence to rise up against Gaddafi. Imperialist so-called humanitarian intervention is anything but that. Further more it has been a cause of many killings.

 The Sri Lankan regime is similarly trying to thrive on anti-imperialist antagonism among the masses. The former Sri Lankan UN Ambassador, Dayan Jayatilleka, attacked the western imperialist powers at the 11th special session at UNHCR in May 2009 in order to win the so-called ‘anti imperialist’ support. “These are the same people who told the world Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I wouldn’t buy a used car from these people let alone allegations of war crimes” he declared! Even this loyal servant got the sack from the president later for allegedly advocating “regional devolution” in a local newspaper. Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa went even further in his ‘analysis’ and announced, “They are jealous of us because they have not defeated terrorism as we have”. Another loyal servant to the Sri Lankan regime and the so-called world expert on terrorism, Professor Rohan Gunaratna, notes that: “In Iraq and Afghanistan where over a million civilians have been killed, there is no UN Panel advising the UN Secretary General to investigate war crimes”.

 The regime is using the UN and imperialist hypocrisy to their advantage just like Gaddafi in Libya. While strongly opposing the human rights abuses and exploitation of imperialist powers, we have to also expose the hypocrisy behind the so called ‘anti-imperialist rhetoric’ of the Sri Lankan regime.

 Despite the rhetoric, the Sri Lankan regime is ever so cooperative with both regional and western imperialist powers. The contradiction over ‘human rights’ is partly a due to the competition between the regional powers like China and India and Western Imperialism which seeks to establish favourable conditions to gain economic advantage. The IMF and the World Bank fully sanctioned loans to the Sri Lankan government and promote Sri Lanka as an ‘investment paradise’. The Sri Lankan government is now ruthlessly executing IMF-led policies such as privatisation, attacks on pensions and so-called tax reforms. The Rajapaksa regime’s alleged anti-imperialist rhetoric and whipping up of Sinhala nationalism is also intended to divert the attention of the working and poor masses from Rajapaksa’s brutal attacks on their living conditions and services.

 Furthermore we will not see the IMF or World Bank withdraw their loans amid the ‘credible war crime’ allegations. Even after the UN panel report was leaked to the media key members in the US congress were advocating a ‘stronger US-Sri Lankan relationship’. The newly named co-chair of the Sri Lankan Congressional Caucus, Chris Van Hollen, who is also a Democrat and defends Obama’s cuts budget, is urging all his colleagues to support this call. In other words what, in reality, this report could achieve for the oppressed masses will be very minimal.

 US Assistant Secretary Robert Blake who visited Sri Lanka after the UN report was published gave the government their full support. He praised the ‘positive progress’ and stated that the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission- is strongly criticised in the UN report) is playing an ‘important role’. In a statement published on 4th of May, Mr O Blake states “In my official meetings today, I assured the Sri Lankan government that the U.S. is committed to a strong long-term partnership with Sri Lanka and that reports of our alleged support for “regime change” have no basis whatsoever. I expressed support for the government’s efforts to recover from its devastating civil war, and encouraged further steps towards reconciliation and a peaceful, united, democratic Sri Lanka”. There is a very brief mention of the UN report where he states that it underlines the importance of a political solution that can forge a united Sri Lanka” and the importance of Sri Lanka’s “dialogue with the UN”! This is exactly the kind of hypocritical behaviour we can expect from the imperialist powers!