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Deportation charter to Sri Lanka: media repudiation & UK political collusion

Mark | 23.10.2012 11:31 | Repression | Social Struggles

Protesters are gathered (since 10am), Tuesday 23rd October, Harmondsworth & Colnbrook detention centres near Heathrow, to prevent the departure of vehicles transporting detainees due to be deported back to Sri Lanka today!
Updates on:

3 attempts to deport people to Sri Lanka have previously been disrupted by a combination of legal action & direct action at the detention centres, with coaches physically stopped from leaving while lawyers won final-hour injunctions in court. During the last charter on 19th September, a person locked himself to the coach surrounded by supporters, holding it up for hours while 35 people gained injunctions stopping their deportations throughout the afternoon.

Sri Lanka, media repudiation & UK political collusion in the shadows of government
by Mark Brown (with extracts originally written by Phil Miller)
23rd October 2012

Today, the UK Borders Agency are scheduled to deport up to 60 people to Sri Lanka, where many of them are at serious risk of arrest, torture and even death.

Mass deportations to Sri Lanka were resumed last year at the height of the genocide against the Tamils in the country, despite overwhelming evidence that torture and illegal detention was being enforced on Tamils in a country that experienced a prolonged ethnic civil war which reached a crescendo by the start of 2009, ending in a bloody, brutal climax in May 2009. At the end of the conflict, as has been well documented in 2 comprehensive documentaries by Channel-4, the Sri Lankan government patently failed its primary responsibility to protect its own population, indiscriminately bombing areas in so-called "no-fire zones" in dereliction of it’s duty to abide by the Geneva Convention. An unverifield number of Tamil civilians, as many as between 40 & 50,000 – possibly as many as 70,000 - were killed between January and May 2009.

The government of Sri Lanka continues to somehow override the putrescence of its international reputation due to the controversy of war crimes committed by government forces on Tamil civilians at the end of the civil war in 2009 and ongoing independently verified human rights abuse such as torture, such as by Human Rights Watch which revealed that it had "documented many cases of torture and ill-treatment (including rape) of failed asylum-seekers at the hands of security forces". [1] Despite heightened media coverage around the 19th Sept charter flight to Sri Lanka, for which 35 detainees won last-minute appeals against deportation, which were all judged to have been illegal, conspicuous by its absence has been the deadly silence from the mainstream media of this latest charter flight. That vacuous wall of silence is especially chilling since, being barely a month after the last flight went in September which justifiably garnered long overdue media scrutiny, this latest charter indicates an acceleration of the UKBA's charter flight program to the island.

The mainstream media also continues to completely avoid the reality that it is British foreign policy which is the driving force behind these deportations to Sri Lanka and which overrides the consideration of the human rights of Tamil asylum-seekers who will be tortured after their deportation, and how this deportation drive serves the interests of certain British politicians (such as Liam Fox) and businesses. The UK government's corrupted deals with the genocidal Sri Lanka government are the drive of mass deportations of Tamils. The letter and circumstances leading up to UKBA's specific request to the UK Mission in Colombo are currently the subject of legal scrutiny and is rumored to be connected to this 'resignation' statement by Liam Fox.
Ref: Read the following for more information on Liam Fox, the Sri Lanka Development Trust and his dealings with the government of Sri Lanka in the shadows:

The suspicion is that deportations by charter to Sri Lanka from the UK are helping to hide the *ongoing* genocide, as witnesses to war crimes committed or those who have direct connection to people who do are removed, the most effective remedy to silence dissent to a prevailing political order to airbrush out of history that which the sits uncomfortably with a stage-managed fabrication of reality manipulated by a UK foreign office conspiring to manage public perception that Sri Lanka remains very much a part of the international community, to sustain some sense of business-as-usual. Even an establishment body, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, has reported this month how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not being “as energetic as it might in impressing upon the UK Border Agency the degree of risk” faced by Tamil deportees. [2]

They further noted that “the Government should also clarify the division between the roles of the FCO and of the UK Border Agency’s Country of Origin Information Service [COIS] in gathering the intelligence needed to make accurate assessments of risk”. This is clear evidence that the FCO exerts influence over the UKBA. And perhaps it refers to the shocking reference in the July 2011 UKBA COIS report on Sri Lanka where the British High Commission (BHC, an FCO employee) claim they:

“asked the Senior Government Intelligence officials if there was any truth in allegations that the Sri Lankan authorities were torturing suspects. They denied this was the case and added that many Sri Lankans who had claimed asylum abroad had inflicted wounds on themselves in order to create scars to support their stories”. [3] (Full content of the letter from the BHC not included in the COIS report, but available to download linked from url to Phil Miller's article referenced below). [Read also note at end of article for more info on the FCO and in particular, the association between the FCO’s most senior civil servant, Matthew Gould and MP Liam Fox].

And yet, the FCO's 2011 Human Rights and Democracy report referred to the open session held by the UN Committee against Torture in November 2011 and to the UN Committee's subsequent report, which noted allegations of widespread torture, secret detention centres, enforced disappearances and deaths in detention in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan government continues to enjoy teflon imperviousness to international criticism, exemplified by the state visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's to the UK to attend the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations as a member of the Commonwealth, which drew substantial protests from Tamil people at the start of June. Despite being a news event worthy of coverage in its own right on the basis that the controversial nature of events in the background in which the Sri Lankan' President is directly involved made his visit to the UK and direct contact with the Queen especially controversial, with the Queen's assumed reputation as the world's ambassador of moral virtue, the attendance of Rajapaksa and his handshake with the Queen received virtually no coverage in the UK media, apart from one article in the Independent newspaper. The extent of this vacuum of media scrutiny and apparant abrogation of dedication to upholding the virtues of applying a consistency of assiduity to covering the most emotive news stories across the world with equivalence in proportion to their moral weight such as one where a government of a country has been associated with genocide is apparant where coverage of a story which has such overwhelming pertinence at the heart of it due to the extent of its controversy has been found wanting. This is magnified by the fact that in March, a resolution against Sri-Lanka was approved in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at its 19th session in Geneva, noting that Sri Lanka has failed to implement the reconciliation measures recommended by the country's own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), calling for Sri Lanka to take more concrete actions towards reconciliation and especially, addressing the accountability issue and implementing the recommendations put forward by the LLRC.

To add insult to injury, the limits of incredulity are further breached by the fact that Sri Lanka is poised to host the 2012 Commonwealth Summit, despite the threat of boycott by Canada, and the Queen is due to open the Summit.


2). 'More Fox hunting needed', written by Phil Miller, date: October 22, 2012. Ref:

3). as above in (2).

taken from 'More Fox hunting needed', by Phil Miller, date: October 22, 2012.
The FCO’s most senior civil servant, Matthew Gould, had numerous meetings with Fox and Werritty, although the government refuse to admit this. Fox’s resignation statement hosted on the Ministry of Defence website accidently (?) refers his dealing with Matthew Gould as Martin Gould, putting the public off the scent of Fox’s and the FCO’s collusion during the times of the most serious massacres of Tamil civilians in 2009, when Matthew Gould toured Sri Lanka in his role as Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, just after Fox and Werrity had visited Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo to set up the Sri Lankan Development Trust.

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