UK rebuked for arms sales to Sri Lanka

Britain has been condemned for continuing to sell weaponry to the Sri Lankan government despite evidence showing that war crimes are committed by the Asian country’s military.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (Caat) urged the coalition government to explain why it continues to license weapons for export to Sri Lanka irrespective of evidence of war crimes by the country’s military, the daily Morning Star reported.

Britain has licensed over £3 million worth of military and “dual use” equipment for export to Sri Lanka since the country’s army defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009, according to the report.

Both LTTE and the Sri Lankan government have been accused of committing atrocities during the conflict which is estimated to have killed up to 40,000 civilians.

A cross-party parliamentary committee on arms export controls said that it could not guarantee that British-licensed armaments were not used during the Sri Lankan government bloody attempt to eradicate the LTTE.

In the first nine months of 2011 the latest date for which figures are available, Britain licensed almost £1.5million worth of exports of which over £1.3million were military.

Among the items exported were armoured vehicles, body armour and “decoying countermeasure equipment and components,” coming under the heading of “grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures.”

“The Arab Spring has bought world attention to the repression practised by governments against their own people. Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished brings a similar focus on the brutality exercised by the government of Sri Lanka against opposing forces and the thousands of helpless civilians trapped in the warzone”, said Caat spokeswoman Kaye Stearman.

“We need to ask why the UK government continues to licence arms for export to Sri Lanka, given its long and proven knowledge of the situation.”

Meanwhile, more than one year after the start of Bahrain’s democratic uprising, the repression continues, and so do the UK’s arms sales to the country’s regime. (Press TV)