On August 11, 2012, members of the Uhuru Movement in London joined with other solidarity groups to show their support for Gobi Sivanthan, who had been on a three-week hunger strike in protest of the UK government’s invitation of war criminal and Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.
This was not the first time the UK government has entertained war criminals.
Earlier in 2012, Rajapaksa was invited to the Diamond Jubilee to dine with the queen and to build business ties with Britain at the Mansion House.
This invitation was also extended to the neocolonial president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who was involved in the genocide in Congo.
We recognize these events simply as criminals entertaining criminals.
On both occasions, the Tamil community in the UK organized large protests against Rajapaksa’s visits, including picketing outside his hotel.
This protest was so successful that the Sri Lankan president was forced to travel in secret and leave in shame.
UK imperialists implicit in the genocide
Sri Lanka was once colonized by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and later the British.
As with Nigeria, British colonial rule played the different ethnic groups against each other.
Britain placed Tamils in high positions to control the island but handed power to the Sinhalese majority after independence was won.
This shift cultivated divisions between the two petty bourgeoisie forces competing for state power and led to years of state repression of Tamils and those who opposed the government.
The repression bred resistance in the form of a guerrilla group, the Tamil Tigers, and resulted in decades of civil war between the Tamil Tigers and the government.
The Tamil Tigers waged a war of independence, which ended in bloody genocide against the Tamil population in the north and east areas of Sri Lanka in 2009.
The Sri Lankan government justified their attack on the Tamil community under the pretext of attempting to stop the Tamil Tigers; instead they murdered women, children and even the elderly.
Many of the Tamil were lured into so-called "safe zones" of refuge, but instead the government murdered many of them.
The government repeatedly bombed hospitals and schools where injured civilians went to get aid.
These atrocities are exposed in the documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields. More than 40,000 people were killed, 146,679 are unaccounted for and 25,000 children orphaned.
Many others have been imprisoned and tortured.
The international community stood by as the genocide took place.
Countries such as China and Israel sold arms to the government.
We now witness Israeli-style land grabs in the Tamil-populated north and east of Sri Lanka by the government for Rajapaksa supporters, both at home and abroad.
Tamils are subjected to terrible conditions in their now heavily militarized and occupied areas.
The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki Moon, has visited Sri Lanka, supposedly to “inspect” the situation but left with no action against the Sri Lankan government.
Gobi Sivanthan ended his three-week hunger strike on August 12, the day of the Olympics closing ceremony.