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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)
calls upon UK to ban export of arms to Sri Lanka
"The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says in a report titled 'the supply of UK military equipment to Sri Lanka', that Britain should not be permitting the export of arms to Sri Lanka which has a very poor human rights record. In the first year of the present Labour government, 67 licences were granted for military equipment to Sri Lanka, which may include small arms, combat aircraft and large calibre weapons such as mortars. Twenty licences are for supply of “electronic equipment specially designed for military use”.
Foreign Office minister Derek Fatchett is said to have stated in September that licences were considered case by case in terms of Britain’s criteria and the European Union Code of Conduct, with particular attention to Sri Lanka’s human rights record, and its legitimate defence and domestic security interests. In early 1998, Britain supplied a hovercraft designed for military use, armed with a 20mm cannon. CAAT draws attention to Oxfam’s recent analysis that 50% of UK arms exports went to countries suffering political violence or high-intensity or low-intensity conflict, and observes that Sri Lanka comes into the high-intensity category.
The LTTE is also accused of grave human rights abuses, none of which balances the massive disruption of Tamil civilian lives by the continuing pressure of the Sri Lankan security forces, the bombing of civilian targets and the ongoing record of violations, CAAT says. The British government, through Mr Fatchett, has declared its wish for “a lasting and just peace” and has offered mediation. CAAT says it is hard to reconcile this stance with a partisan support for one of the contending parties, still less with arms sales which can only help to intensify the carnage in the island." (British Refugee Council publication, Sri Lanka Monitor, November 1998)