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In May, I wrote about how beltway lobbyists, led by Patton Boggs were cashing in big time on the war in Sri Lanka. The lobbying firm, I noted, was being paid $35,000 per month by that country’s government to, at least in part, sanitize its role in the violence. “It’s hard to know who bears more responsibility for the bloodshed in Sri Lanka, the government or the Tamil Tigers, but it’s clear that huge numbers of civilians are being killed in the crossfire,” I wrote.
This prompted an angry reply from the embassy of Sri Lanka, which basically said that reports of government atrocities were exaggerated by doctors who were either under the influence of or biased towards the Tigers. It will be interesting to see how the embassy and Patton Boggs spin the release of a new U.S. report:
The State Department’s top war crimes official called on Sri Lanka on Thursday to conduct a “genuine” investigation into allegations of war crimes by Sri Lankan troops and Tamil rebels during the bloody final months of the country’s 25-year-long civil war. The appeal by Stephen Rapp, the U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues, came hours after his office presented Congress with a detailed account of alleged atrocities during the conflict that suggests both sides may have violated international law and committed crimes against humanity.
The report listed numerous allegations against the Tigers, including that they “forcibly recruited children as young as 11 to fight, killing relatives who objected, and “regularly fired on civilians attempting to flee the war zone.” But it also cited numerous allegations against government forces, such as “government shelling of civilian populations, hospitals, churches and schools in rebel-controlled territory, often in areas designated by authorities as no-fire zones. The U.S. Embassy reported several cases in which large numbers of civilians were reportedly killed in shelling,” including nine in the bombardment of a hospital.
Who will the government and the country’s lobbyists blame now that the doctors can no longer serve as scapegoats? According to the Washington Post, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry has already released a statement “saying that the allegations contained in the report ‘appear to be unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence.’ It said that Sri Lankan security forces had been ‘engaged in a humanitarian mission’ aimed at freeing captive civilians from the ‘clutches’ of the separatist group.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”