The next time you buy some lingerie, a T-shirt or a pair of rubber gloves, you may want to reflect on this: they were probably made in Sri Lanka.Yup, you just thought you were buying some cheap clothing, but in reality, you have blood on your hands, because the Sri Lankan cause is the latest celebrity cause.
And like it or not, your purchase plays a role in the debate over how to respond to the Sri Lankan Government's successful but brutal military campaign against the Tamil Tiger rebels…
Forget Pakistan, Tibet, Iraq and Afghanistan – Sri Lanka’s where the cool kids now direct their energies:
Since 2005 Sri Lanka has been allowed to sell garments to the European Union without import tax as part of a scheme designed to help it to recover from the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. That means its clothes are 10 per cent cheaper than those from China and other competitors - helping the island to earn at least $2.9 billion from the EU annually. Britain accounts for much of that.I’m tempted to say four years ought to be enough and that tax should now be reinstated.
But Jeremy would like this to be rescinded not because it’s no longer needed to stop a ‘human rights crisis’ but to punish the government (and therefore people) of a Third World country for an action in the past….
So the question facing British shoppers and holidaymakers is this: should they continue to support Sri Lanka's garment and tourist industries? Sadly, the answer must be no.According to whom, Jeremy? You?
Britain should welcome the defeat of the Tigers, a ruthless terrorist organisation that forcibly recruited children, pioneered the use of the suicide bomb and killed thousands of innocent people. But Britain must also condemn the Sri Lankan Government's conduct of the war - and take punitive action against it both to discourage other states from using similar methods, and to encourage proper reconciliation between the Tamil and Sinhalese communities. With the UN paralysed, economic sanctions are the only practical options left.So, ’pour encourager les autres’, we should take punitive action against a poor Third World country’s citizens for a war entirely within their own borders against a ruthless terrorist organisation?
When did that kind of thing become acceptable?
Many will ask why they should care: there are bigger conflicts in the world, and Sri Lanka's is mercifully confined to its own shores, with no risk that British troops might be deployed.Quite…
The response to that is simple: what about next time? Sri Lanka's war has been discrete only because it is an island; many other conflicts in have spilt across borders, forcing military intervention to prevent a humanitarian disaster or a greater conflagration.Ah, so, it’s a bit of pre-emptive punishment we are talking about here, is it?
Britain may have, in the eyes of the world, ceded much of the moral high ground over human rights when it shed civilian blood during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But that does not mean that Britain should abandon its role in defending international law that protects civilians in conflicts and holds governments accountable for their actions during war.You mean, it’s ok when it’s a cause you currently support?
In an ideal world the UN, not the EU, would take the lead.Ha ha ha ha!
As to whether Britons should visit Sri Lanka as tourists, well that's a matter of personal choice….Gosh, that’s awfully good of you, Jeremy!
But if it’s ok with you, I plan to make all my own decisions. Actually, I plan to do that even if it’s not ok with you….