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Double Standards of the West

By Tina Edward - Gunawardhana

As New York erupted in flames and the symbol of US capitalism crumbled before a global audience, the Western world was preparing itself for the most audacious terrorist attack seen in the civilized world. Almost all the news channels were swamped with pictures of a jet deliberately being flown in to the Twin Towers. People screaming, crying, shouting and shell shocked - the images were vivid and horrid. Westerners recoiled in horror at these barbaric sights especially of people hurling themselves off the top floors of the World Trade Center in their desperate but futile attempts to get to safety. For Americans who have come to represent the most carefree way of life the 11th of September will be the turning point for many of them.

While the tragic events unfolded and the news spread to every corner of the globe. World leaders, especially allies of the USA were on their guard, many holding press conferences to express their shock and anger. One such leader was Tony Blair the Prime Minister of the UK. He cancelled a meeting he was attending in rural England and sped back to Downing Street where in a sombre mood he addressed the nation. While sympathizing with the US and offering help, he said that Britain would stand shoulder to shoulder with the USA in fighting terrorism. His hands clutching the lectern, he puffed out his chest, threw his shoulders back along with some caution to the wind and said that Britain was committed to fighting terrorism and would extend all help to the USA to eradicate terrorism. Now the media turned to the US where a sombre Dubya Bush, like a deer caught in the headlights, looking rather shell shocked hilmeslf, vowed to hunt down the terrorists. Bush also announced that any country harboring terrorists would also be dealt with seriously and action would be taken against such countries that accommodated terrorists.

Unfortunately there was no media present to capture the disbelief, astonishment, horror and total bewilderment that appeared on many Sri Lankan's faces when they heard the statements of Bush and Blair. Two faced arrogance par excellence - Oscars to the Blair and Bush duo at the next awards ceremony. For the last twenty odd years little Sri Lanka my homeland has been battling against the odds with a bunch of terrorists who have caused equal terror in Sri Lanka as Bin Laden has done in America. Albeit the LTTE have not yet been successful in hijacking planes and flying them in to buildings but with their macabre self combusting cadres they have caused unimaginable damage to the physical and psychological structure of Sri Lanka. The LTTE also murdered Indian President Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President Premadasa - Yet no one wholeheartedly came to Sri Lanka's rescue. How ever stoic we appear to be Tamil Terrorism has affected us all. The Tigers bombed the Sri Lankan world trade center, the Central Bank, the Airport, JOC building and other strategic locations which caused untold amounts of civilian deaths. Long before Milosovich made the phrase ethnic cleansing fashionable, Parayakaran was indulging in it to wipe out entire sinhala settlements in the North and the East of Sri Lanka.

We did not have CNN, SKY, BBC or any other media to give us minute-by-minute coverage of the carnage happening in Sri Lanka. Instead we were relegated to the bottom of the news and often forgotten about. If one thought Tuesday's saga in the US was vile they should have seen the victims of Gonagala with their limbs hacked off, the pregnant belies of women slashed open and children with their eyes gouged out. Those scenes were far more devastating than a burning building, which symbolized American wealth.

While all this strife was tearing away the very fabric of Sri Lanka the administrations of Blair and Bush repeatedly turned a blind eye to the LTTE members who continued to live in the UK and USA, many enjoying the hospitality offered by those countries. In the UK the Tamil Tigers had an unrestricted run to raise money to swell their war coffers. Equally in the US the Tamil Tigers enjoyed a free reign in indulging in fund raising activities to sustain terrorism in Sri Lanka. Desperate pleas by the Sri Lankan Diaspora and the Sri Lankan government were ignored. Instead my people were asked to talk peace with murderers. After years and years of pleas and after the deaths of nearly 80,000 Sri Lankans, the US and the UK banned the LTTE, This was more a symbolic gesture than any other. Still the LTTE continue to fund raise in the UK while Scotland Yard either remains blissfully unaware or refuses to acknowledge that the LTTE have set up numerous front organizations to collect money from the Tamil diaspora, in the US too the same is happening.

In the context of what Bush said that any country caught harboring terrorists would be severely dealt with then surely it stands to reason that the UK be the first offender of this act as the UK harbors many terrorist groups. Groups led by Abu Hamza and Bakri all with links to Osama Bin Laden are still allowed to live in the UK and operate Muslim support groups denouncing the West. Amongst them the PKK and the LTTE still have bases in the UK and are known to Scotland Yard but no firm action has been taken against their presence here despite being on the banned terrorist organization list.. Then logically the UK is then guilty of harboring terrorist groups, I wonder how Bush will deal with Blair on that score?

When my people have been mutilated, raped and plundered by the Tamil Tigers the West have issued a cursory statement and literally forced us to go for peace talks with the Tamil Tigers. Whitehall mandarins, American Ambassadors, Norwegian angels of peace and numerous others have extolled the virtues of talking peace with terrorists and urged us to do so.

Now that the US has been on the receiving end of a wave of terrorist attacks will Tony Blair and his merry men urge Bush, Powell et al to welcome the Bin Laden envoys with olive branches and talk peace? Or will Tony Blair throw the military might of the UK behind Uncle Sam in an act of solidarity and bomb the living daylights out of Afghanistan? Sri Lankans await with bated breath as to how the arrogant leaders of the west deal with terrorism when it explodes in their front gardens!


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