Colombo cannot erase what happened to the Tamils

One year after the end of official hostilities in Sri Lanka still sees a country in turmoil, proudly anti-Tamil and unwilling to investigate the war crimes committed in the last months of the war.

Chair of the UK-based Sri Lanka Campaign Advisory Council (I sit on the board), Edward Mortimer, says that the world can and must do much more:

There is a lot more that could be done, but we need to work differently. Currently the Sri Lankan government is portraying itself as the plucky non-aligned, developing country that is standing up to the West and/or the North – the imperialists and neo-colonialists. Sadly this works well today in the theatre of the UN, and of international diplomacy. But many of the countries whose governments have been supporting Sri Lanka are democracies – India, Brazil, South Africa and many smaller countries in the global South. So it’s to public opinion and civil society in those countries that we need to take the argument. Do any of these countries have a national debate before they vote at the UN, or before they supply aid and investment to Sri Lanka? They should do, and the peoples of those countries should insist on it.

It’s encouraging, therefore, to read this:

Bollywood’s annual awards ceremony, which begins in Sri Lanka today, is supposed to be an orgy of glitz and glamour, complete with bling-laden outfits, gushing acceptance speeches and the obligatory song and dance spectaculars.

This year, however, the event has been overshadowed by the withdrawal of several stars — including the Bachchans and Shah Rukh Khan — in protest at alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

The country had hoped to repair its international image and revive tourism by hosting the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards, just over a year after the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The IIFA, which has held the awards overseas since 2000, says the three-day event will help to “bridge boundaries” between Sri Lanka’s 14 million-strong Sinhalese majority and its roughly three million ethnic Tamils. But since the venue was announced in April, there have been calls for a boycott from Tamil activists and leaders of the film industry in South India, which is home to an estimated 60 million Tamils.

This Al-Jazeera report shows a nation, not unlike Israel in fact, that is so utterly convinced it is right, its actions moral and a future assured that there’s no doubts and no looking back: