While we were busying ourselves with Iran for the past week, another world hot-spot has been reheated:
The escalating conflict in Sri Lanka between the Buddhist Sinhala majority and the Hindu Tamil minority has prompted daily protests in the southern Indian city of Chennai for the past two weeks, with ethnic Indian Tamils coming out in support of their “brethren” across the seas.
The focus of their anger — allegations that the Sri Lankan government bombed an orphanage in the rebel-held north of the country earlier this month, killing 61 Tamil schoolgirls.
The outrage is fuelled by a sense that their own government is siding with the Sri Lankan authorities against the Tamils.
“The government of India should take steps to bring peace to Sri Lanka,” said Paul Kanakaraj, president of the High Court Advocates Association in Chennai.
. . . In 1991, a Tiger suicide bomber killed India’s Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally outside Chennai. Those scars still run deep in India, especially in a government dominated by Gandhi’s Italian-born widow Sonia.
“I don’t think India has either the stomach or the wherewithal to make any assertive contribution to what is happening in Sri Lanka,” said Uday Bhaskar of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. “But it will be concerned.”
India will never again send troops to Sri Lanka, analysts say. Diplomatically, it even plays down an offer to help Colombo draw up a plan for the devolution of power between the Sinhalas and the Tamils.
Full article, about the concern in India over the conflict in Sri Lanka, here.
Meanwhile, 12 men have been arrested in the U.S., suspected of attempting to buy arms to supply the Tamil Tigers:
Twelve men arrested in the US as a result of an FBI sting operation have been charged with attempting to buy arms for the Tamil Tigers and trying to bribe American officials to have the group’s name removed from a US government list of terrorist organisations.
Four of the defendants are alleged to have attempted to buy Russian shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles and guns for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from FBI undercover agents posing as black market arms dealers. The weapons are said to have been ordered by the group’s leadership for use in its conflict with the Sri Lankan government, which is rapidly escalating following the collapse of a four-year ceasefire.
Some of the others are accused of a conspiracy to pay state department officials up to $1m (£530,000) to have the Tamil Tigers name removed from the state department terrorist list, which bans it from fundraising, lobbying or buying equipment in America, and also of offering bribes in return for details of US intelligence on a charity suspected of being a front for the Tigers. The officials they allegedly attempted to bribe also turned out to be FBI undercover agents.
Full article here. For whatever it’s worth, four Canadians who were arrested as part of this crew are apparently claiming that they were in Buffalo, New York merely to attend a bachelor party. I never had a bachelor party, personally, but I guess I would’ve thought procuring strippers would have been given priority over procuring Russian shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.