Thousands of Sri Lankans hold anti-U.S. demo
JNN 03 Mar 2012 Colombo : Tens of thousands of Sri Lankans have held a demonstration in the capital Colombo to protest the United States’ attempt to malign the South Asian country in the eyes of the international community.
The protesters led by five cabinet ministers chanted slogans against Washington’s plan to present a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva over alleged war crimes.
“We are here to protest the action the U.S. is trying to take against us,” Energy Minister Champaka Ranawaka said.
Labor Minister Gamini Lokuge added that “America is trying to break up our country.”
Earlier in the day, Sri Lankans staged another protest march that began outside the paramilitary Civil Defense Force (CDF) headquarters and headed towards the U.S. embassy.
Both members of the CDF and civilians participated in the march, witnesses said.
Security forces blocked the protesters from reaching the embassy, but allowed a few activists to carry a petition to the premises.
During the previous UN meetings, China and Russia frustrated US designs to pass anti-Sri Lanka resolutions.
Sri Lanka had been embroiled in a deadly civil war between the Hindu Tamil separatist minority led by Prabhakaran and the Buddhist Sinhalese majority since 1983.
In May 2009, the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared total victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), putting Sri Lanka completely back under government rule for the first time since the war erupted.
The civil war broke out after anti-Tamil riots staged by extremists of the Sinhalese community, who make up about 74 percent of the population, against about 3.5 million Tamils in the country of 19.5 million. The Tamils were killed in large numbers just for being Tamils. The riots alienated the Tamil population from the Sinhalese majority. It was the beginning of the rise of the LTTE.
The Tamil Tigers took up arms in hopes of creating a Tamil homeland they called Eelam. The military actions against the Tigers from 1983 to 1987 fueled further violence and the movement developed into a full-fledged insurgency, with the Tamil guerrillas’ operations eventually escalating into a civil war.
It is believed that at least 70,000 people died in the 26-year ethnic conflict.
Many countries, in particular Iran, India, Pakistan, Japan, Libya, and Russia, helped Sri Lanka defeat the Tamil Tiger insurgency, but it was China that played a key role in bringing the civil war to an end in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
China, which is building a $1 billion port in the Sri Lankan town of Hambantota that it plans to use as a refueling and docking station for its navy, has provided financial assistance, arms, and diplomatic support to Sri Lanka to help end the ethnic turmoil.
However, the United States, and especially Britain, which actually created this painful ethnic conflict through its policy of divide and rule, showed rank hypocrisy by reciting the “ceasefire” mantra when the military closed in on the rebels’ strongholds and Sri Lankan forces were on the verge of victory.