Oppression and genocide in Sri Lanka and Palestine

Israel Sri Lanka

Our defeat was always implicit in the victory of others; our wealth has always generated our poverty by nourishing the wealth of others — the empires and their native overseers. In colonial and anti-colonial alchemy, gold changes into scrap metal and food into poison. 
Eduardo Galeano1

The opening of Eduardo Galeano’s book, Open Veins of Latin America, looks at the historical origins of Latin America’s underdevelopment, the central theme being the genocide of the native population by the Spanish and Portuguese “civilising” colonial project. This involved hunger, overwork, communicable diseases, and huge damage to the cultures, flora and fauna of the continent. Echoes of this are found in the thirty-year civil war in Sri Lanka and in the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

The genesis of this paper was Israel’s carpet bombing of Gaza. At the time of writing, over 29,000 inhabitants are dead, many of them refugees from Israeli occupation. The majority are women and children. 60,000 are wounded, with access to medicine and health care more precarious by the day. An overwhelming majority of the population are facing imminent starvation. All this is transmitted daily to the world.

There are those who say that the victims are the terrorists. They largely rely on the horrific events of October 7, when the armed cadres of Hamas managed to break out of the open-air prison in which the people of Gaza were confined. In the bloody melee that ensued, about 1100 Israelis lost their lives and more than 200 hostages were taken. It is also alleged that Hamas were guilty of rape and beheading. It is undeniable that atrocities occurred, but until there is an independent inquiry, questions will remain. How many deaths were caused by crossfire is also uncertain. None of this justifies the harm caused to Gaza’s civilian population by Israel’s bombing and invasion.

What Palestinians in Gaza are forced to endure is reminiscent of what happened in Sri Lanka during the last months of a thirty odd years civil war between the Sinhalese majority government and the Tamil armed opposition. This playbook is also similar to that of other colonisers, such as the Moroccan military in Western Sahara, Indonesian security forces in West Papua, the Burmese military junta, and the Turkish government in the repression of the Kurdish people in Türkiye and North East Syria.

The argument

In this paper I shall highlight the use of mass murder against the dispossessed and the ideological, structural and legislative methods used to demonise the dispossessed. The hope is that the mass struggle for social justice and self-determination becomes an international one, like what is happening in Gaza, in which atrocities are not allowed to happen without exposure and resistance.

The paper will do this by looking at the historical similarity between the respective struggles of the Tamils and Palestinians, examining the asymmetrical nature of the conflicts, the reasons for the struggles, the attempt to hide massacres, and who must be held accountable.

The paper starts by looking at the links, military and economic, between Israel and Sri Lanka.


The Sri Lankan government’s relationship with Israel has waxed and waned, depending on its geopolitical interests and ideological predilections. In contrast, Israel has always pursued good relations with the Sri Lankan government. Their rapport deepened during the long Sri Lankan civil war (from the early 1980s to 2009). Israel supplied the Sri Lankan armed forces with military aircraft and ships: Kfir fighter jets, Super Dvora class patrol boats, Saar 4 class missile boats and Gabriel missiles. The relationship was cemented in the colonisation in the Eastern Provinces (the Mahaweli project) by Sinhalese farmers and peasants who displaced many Tamil and Muslim landowners.

Like the Indian government, the economically bankrupt Sri Lankan government has offered its people to replace the foreign workers who left Israel because of the conflict in Gaza. Some estimates put the figure at 100,000.2

In the last phase of the civil war, elite troops of the Sri Lankan military were trained by Israeli military personnel. They were taught how to methodically mop up areas, with no distinction made between civilians and armed LTTE cadres.

Asymmetry of the forces of the state versus the armed resistance

One of the tricks of colonisers is to exaggerate the size and the prowess of the “enemy”, thus stoking the fears of the majority community and justifying the diversion of resources from health and education to the security apparatus. This places the emphasis on a military solution, not a political one.

In 1984, with the civil war heating up, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had about 2000 fighters, with the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) having 17,000. During the last phase of the war the LTTE had a force estimated to be no greater than 11,000, facing probably 160,000 well-equipped and trained Sri Lankan troops.3 Considerably more, in fact, if the military police, intelligence, navy and air force are taken into account. Gordon Weiss states that in 2009, at the end of the civil war, Sri Lanka had the seventeenth largest army in the world, more than 30 times its strength at the start in 1983.4 And all this in a country that has fewer than 23 million people.

Hamas established their Qassam Brigades5 in 1992. The brigade has carried out numerous attacks against Israel, including suicide attacks. According to the CIA the Brigade has around 20,000 to 25,000 members. It is well stocked with guns, grenades, and rockets. It has no tanks, artillery, planes, or warships. It is an irregular force, lightly armed and with no backup, unlike the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). There are other forces arraigned against the Israeli state but their capabilities are even smaller than those of the Qassam Brigades.6 It is estimated that the Hamas military budget is around $100 million.

The IDF has, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 169,500 active military personnel, with 465,000 in reserve. Its defence budget in 2023, including aid from the United States, was about $23.6 billion, a budget greater than the military budgets of Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, and Jordan combined. Its military, navy and air force are equipped with the latest weapons. With the help of its main ally, the US, it has a mostly effective missile shield, the Iron Dome (worth many billions of dollars).7 The IDF is considered to be one of best equipped and most efficient armies in the world.

According to the United Nations, from 2008 up to the current conflagration there were 6407 Palestinian deaths as opposed to 308 on the Israeli side.8 According to Israel’s social security agency, the death toll on October 7 was 1,139. It has identified 695 Israeli civilian deaths and 71 migrant workers. Around 373 members of the Israeli military and security forces were reported dead.9 Since then, more than 29,000 Palestinian have been killed, mostly civilians. Gaza had suffered air bombardments before this. In 2008 the Israeli air force, in Operation Cast Lead, dropped 600 tons of bombs and reduced large swathes of the Gaza Strip to rubble. Even areas deemed safe, like the UN compound, were bombed with many casualties. About 4000 civilians were killed and 5000 wounded. Israeli deaths were 13 (three of which were the result of friendly fire).10

In the last phase of the civil war in Sri Lanka (July 2006-May 2009) credible estimates of deaths range from 40,000 to 80,000. Around 6000 were of the security forces of the Sri Lankan army. Reliable estimates of the human deaths during the civil war are around 200,000, the overwhelming majority being Tamils.11

From the start, the Sri Lankan government, like that of Israel, was much more comfortable with the military option than with dialogue. In 1977, for example, the government of Sri Lanka sent in the military to deal with a small group of Tamil insurrectionists who were involved in assassinations and bank robberies.12 The army targeted the whole Tamil community. They arrested, shot or tortured anybody who was critical of the government, including student activists, teachers, academics, artists, priests and social workers. As a direct result the violence escalated, culminating in 1983 in a pogrom against the Tamils in the south of the island, resulting in tens of thousands of their houses being looted and burnt, countless women being raped and 3000 deaths. The background to this was the gunning down of 13 Sri Lankan soldiers who were on patrol. Hushed up was the resultant massacre of 60 Tamil civilians by the military. The hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees fleeing the pogrom fell into the arms of the “boys with the guns” — the LTTE — and a low-intensity conflict flared into a full-blown civil war.13

The fantasy of the colonist defence

Faced with a growing body of evidence of mass killings of civilians, the Sri Lankan and Israeli governments have fallen back on demonising the colonised. Professor Tony Taylor discussed this historical and political trend referencing the Armenian Genocide, the denial of the methodical killing of the Jews in Europe by the Nazis and their collaborators (6 million died out of 9 million in the occupied territories), the stubborn denial of successive Japanese governments of the country’s role in the massacres of indigenous populations in China and Korea, the denial of atrocities committed by Stalinists in the Soviet Union, Serbian and Croatian atrocities during the breakup of Yugoslavia, and a reluctance by Australians (only now changing) to acknowledge the massacres of Aboriginal people by colonial occupiers.14

Historical deniers, according to Taylor, display the following behaviours: an acquiescence to authority and leaders; hostility towards “others” who are usually defenceless and hence an easy target; a simplistic analysis of complex circumstances; antagonism to ideas beyond their frame of reference; belief in the purity of their beliefs and in the evil of the others; and a belief that their own group is superior to other groups.15 These characteristics are very evident in the Israeli attitude to Palestinians and in the treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Sinhala chauvinists and Zionist zealots alike cling to the unexamined assumption that their armed forces cannot commit atrocities and that their military responses are measured. They point instead to their opponents’ misdeeds. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president whose government oversaw the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, said this at a victory parade two years after the end of the conflict:

I will recall what I said in the past that our troops went into the battlefront carrying a gun on one hand, the Human Rights Charter on the other, food for the innocent displaced on their shoulder, and love of their children in their hearts. They did not target any communities or religions, and did not march ahead with hatred towards anyone.16

Echoes of this can be found in the Israeli response to the evidence of the targeting of civilians in Gaza, the destruction of infrastructure and the blocking of supplies. The current Israeli government is sadly exploiting a great European tragedy — the attempted extermination of Jews by the Nazis and their allies — as justification for its actions.

A cameo of life under occupation

Both the Tamils and the Palestinians are ringed in by a series of institutional, military, and legal constraints that make their lives insufferable compared to their neighbours. This can only be described as apartheid. Apartheid was a system in place in South Africa based on segregation and discrimination on the grounds of race.17 Both the Sri Lankan government and the Zionist state bristle at the very suggestion that their policies are similar.

The Palestinians are harshly dealt with on every indicator, be it the level of unemployment, restriction of travel, the right of refugees to return to their homes, and allocation of resources and land. Before the latest invasion, Gaza had around 70% youth unemployment. The few lucky enough to work in the “promised land” endured severe economic and military harassment and restrictions. Jonathan Cook contends that there was a “slow-motion ethnic cleansing”. It is one of the ways that the political realisation of Greater Israel — a homeland for Jews only — is being implemented.18

Another instrument of the Zionist apartheid state is the Right of Return. Within two years of the Zionist state being proclaimed in the Knesset, The Law of Return was established, which allows all Jews around the world to migrate to Israel and automatically become citizens. Two years later, in 1952, the Knesset passed the Citizenship Law, which effectively bars any Palestinian not living in Israel from returning and claiming their former land and house back from the colonisers. This directly affects the 750,000 Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 — known to Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe). A Palestinian citizen of Israel who wants to marry another Palestinian living in land expropriated during the 1967 war is barred from marrying. There are also barriers to intermarriage, echoing the laws against miscegenation that were still in place in many of the states in the US till the 1960s and were one of the pillars of apartheid South Africa.

In the distribution of resources, the division is just as blatant. 93% of the Palestinian community in Israel cling to less than 3% of their land, mostly in the built-up areas of their towns and villages. Waves of confiscation by the Zionist state forcibly expropriated about 70% of their land. This confiscated land and other pieces of land are kept in trust for Jewish settlers and for Jews around the globe, who might want to become citizens. Even Palestinians living in Israel cannot claim back land illegally taken from them. It is done under the aegis of the Absentee Property Law of 1950.

Reinforcing this is the Planning and Building Law of 1965, which confines the vast majority of Palestinians to overcrowded ghettos, such as Gaza, while their Jewish neighbours are awarded significant land reserves. Even illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank have access to lavish state subsidies denied to Palestinians.

Israel has the highest poverty rate among OECD member states. This is because poverty is largely concentrated in the occupied territories, similar to Bantustans,19 where Palestinians are forced to live. Only a fifth of Jewish children live below the poverty line, while two thirds of Palestinian children in Israel do.20

The Tamils in the north of Sri Lanka, a decade and half after the end of the civil war, have had to contend with at least 70,000 Sri Lankan troops (some estimates put the figure at 160,000). That is one soldier for every 12 civilians, together with 15,000 police. Most of these security personnel do not speak Tamil and the occupied do not speak Sinhalese. This suffocating armed presence creates incomprehension, fear, and resentment in the civilian population.

Land and resources are affected. Large permanent army camps take up valuable arable land near towns and villages. The armed forces of the state are involved in large-scale economic development, including market gardens and golf courses, holiday resorts, hotels, farming, restaurants, cafes, and travel agencies on land expropriated from local Tamil farmers. No independent authority determines whether the land can be handed back.

As in Palestine, hundreds of thousands of Tamils were forced to vacate their land because of the civil war, and once the conflict ended many were prevented from returning because these areas were deemed “high security zones”. Some compensation is offered, usually on land that is arid and devoid of infrastructure, making fishing and farming (the two traditional income earners) difficult.21

There have been many instances of Tamils who have been tortured and detained by the armed forces in Tamil areas since the end of the civil war. These shadowy forces act with impunity and a predatory approach is taken even if the detainee has only tenuous links to the LTTE. These abductions are a tried and true method of retaining control through fear. It is fear that prevents people from testifying against the armed forces. Its aim is also to make life unbearable for Tamils so they will flee the country. Abductions are done in plain sight by coordinated teams of security and intelligence personnel. Those abducted are then tortured where all the tools of torture are also on full display: cables, wooden sticks, batons, plastic pipes filled with sand, water barrels. The detainees are whipped, burnt with cigarettes, branded with hot metal rods and suffer other unspeakable acts. In at least half the cases the security forces broker a ransom. Prices range from Rs350,000 to a million rupees. This is another profitable sideline of the armed forces.22

The assault of women in Sri Lanka is distressingly widespread, being most acute in the north and east. There is credible evidence that sexual violence was systematically used against Tamils. Rape was used to intimidate the Tamil population, especially in the immediate aftermath of the war. Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded that sexualised violence and torture was used to gather information about the LTTE to force others to “confess” and as method of ethnic cleansing. As a result of the war, there were 90,000 households headed by women in 2017, of whom many are widows.23 These women face many hurdles in getting permanent housing and jobs to support themselves and their families. Some have been forced to resort to prostitution and suffer a lack of physical security. Young women are abducted, raped, and returned to their communities. Many are too terrified to report their rape to the authorities, who are their occupiers. Widows are regularly harassed, raped, or forced to submit to sex. Many of the victims are then forced to endure it all again.24

What is missing from the discourse

In the Manichean universe of the Israeli and Sri Lankan states, their actions are beyond reproach, but the actions of the oppressed are unjust and immoral. They make no allowance for the historical reasons for resistance. Violence by the oppressed is not new. The First Nations of Australia resisted the colonisers from 1788 to just before World War II. There were indigenous rebellions in many parts of what is now South America and in the United States, as well as the Nat Turner revolt by enslaved African Americans. There was also the Mau Mau rebellion in the British colony of Kenya and many others less well known revolts. What they share is resistance to a better armed and resourced enemy. Armed resistance follows a period where the possibilities of negotiation are narrowed until they are non-existent and violence seems for some the only other choice.

The Israeli and Sri Lankan states have been extraordinarily successful in deflecting attention from the causes of revolt by denouncing as terrorists those seeking their rights, and using this as an excuse for military repression and discrimination. In this they are aided by many in the corporate media who use the colonisers’ talking points and attempt to deflect legitimate inquiries. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that many journalists have lost their lives attempting to tell the truth. Meanwhile the local media is choked with government propaganda. The colonising governments have powerful international backers who provide arms, money, and political capital. On the Israeli side are the US, the European Union and Britain. On the Sri Lankan side are China, India, Russia and Israel. The US also gave limited support.

The government of post-independence Sri Lanka is deaf to the demands of the Tamil community when it comes to parity of language, the allocation of resources and jobs and the recognition that Sri Lanka is a multicultural society, as evidenced by the 1972 and the subsequent 1977 Constitutions and the latter’s plethora of amendments which stated that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist state. Dissent, whether in the form of protests or peaceful non-cooperation was met by the might of the state and anger of the majority community. Countless hundreds lost their lives and houses in the riots. The more notable ones occurred in 1958 and 1977. In 1983 an army patrol was ambushed by the LTTE, with the army retaliating by killing unarmed civilians. It resulted in a pogrom in the capital city Colombo, in which many rioters were brought in government vans and their leaders were provided with lists of Tamil names and houses. Thousands of homes were looted and burnt; many of the women were raped and about 3000 killed, while the police looked on. The government did not express any sympathy, but directly blamed the Tamils25 for the pogrom. It disenfranchised Tamil parliamentary representatives and passed a law giving the Sri Lankan government the right to do what they pleased with properties affected by the pogrom. The result was not hard to predict. An exodus of 150,000 refugees flooded the north, the east and India, passing into the willing arms of the LTTE. By 1984 the civil war was transformed from a low-level intermittent conflict into a full blown one.26

The towns and countryside controlled by the LTTE fell under the overwhelming firepower and the 160,000 troops of the Sri Lankan state. Facing them were the remnants of the LTTE and 300,000 unarmed civilians. The Sri Lankan army could have sent their small well-trained mobile units to destroy the LTTE as they had no means of escape, being trapped on an isthmus. Instead, the Sri Lankan army, navy and air force used overwhelming firepower on an area that at the start of the siege was maybe eight square kilometres and at the end around one kilometre and contained probably a quarter of a million defenceless civilians. The initial UN figures of 40,000 killed is now seen as overly conservative, with figures of 80,000 to 100,000 being more likely.

The wounded were left to die because it was too dangerous to rescue them, and if rescued they received treatment that was at best rudimentary. Hardly any drugs and anaesthetics were available, and hospital staff had to ask the UN and the Red Cross not to give out their coordinates for fear it would attract more shellfire. The survivors were hungry, thirsty, sleep-deprived, terrified, and their will to live deserted them; how many died of hunger and lack of water can only be guessed at.

Many wanted to escape this charnel house but were terrified into staying. Even if they could successfully navigate the mines laid across the borders of their prison, they were at risk of being shot at by the Sri Lankan forces, and if taken they would face a fraught future in an internment camp. That is why so many Tamil civilians remained.27

Gaza is an artificial construct of the Zionist state, an area of 365 square kilometres in which over two million human beings are squashed in like sardines. It has one of the highest population densities in the world. More than 70% of the population are refugees or descendants of refugees. Half the population is under the age of 18. It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Before the current bombardment, it had an overall unemployment of about 46%, with a 70% unemployed rate for young people. It nevertheless has, like Sri Lanka, a high literacy rate. The inhabitants are virtually caged between the Zionist forces and the Egyptian ones. This blockade is enforced by land, sea and air and severely curtails ordinary commerce as there is a blockade on many goods and services that could make their lot tolerable. This blockade is also human as it prevents many Gazans from being gainfully employed beyond their cage.

There have been restrictions or bans on many items necessary for living a tolerable life.28 These include building materials, light bulbs, candles, matches, books, refrigerators, shoes, clothing, sheets and blankets. Food items include tea, coffee, sausages, flour, meat and pasta. Other items include cigarettes, fuel, pencils and pens. The only entrance is in Rafah, which is intermittently closed.29

These policies have resulted in most of the population of Gaza being dependent on humanitarian aid and the whims of the Israeli government. They put up with restricted access to food and water, difficulties in ensuring their children get to school safely and even in burying a loved one. Now there is widespread infrastructure devastation, together with the contamination of water and soil brought on by the continual siege and repeated air strikes.30

Professor Sara Roy, a knowledgeable and sympathetic observer, remarked on one of her visits to Gaza that here “is a land ripped apart and scarred, the lives of its people blighted. Gaza is decaying under the weight of continued devastation, unable to function normally…” Roy concludes that the decline and disablement of Gaza’s economy and society have been deliberate, “the result of state policy — consciously planned, implemented, and enforced …. And just as Gaza’s demise has been consciously orchestrated, so have obstacles preventing its recovery.”31

Since the 2006 elections, Gaza has been controlled by Hamas, which is defined by Israel and its allies as a terrorist organisation. Periodically Hamas has attempted to break the siege. They have done this futilely and ineffectually by raining rockets on the occupiers. Since 2007 Gaza has suffered three major Israeli assaults that have killed more than 3500 Palestinians, as well as a decade and half of economic blockade and military siege.32

Since October 7 things have become worse. It is estimated by US intelligence sources, as reported to CNN, that about 40-45% of the 29,000 bombs dropped on a defenceless civilian population are “dumb bombs”. Countless of these undirected bombs are behemoths — 2000-pound bombs. Even places that could be deemed civilian shelters and no-go areas are not immune. Hospitals, homes, UN compounds, ambulances, mosques, a church, and a university have been targets. Like the Sri Lankan government, the Israeli government claims to be rooting out terrorists in a measured way.

The facts on the ground

This deflection flies in the face of the facts. As Reuters reported in the first six weeks of the war, hospital morgues sent figures to the health centre that were then collated. Excel spreadsheets were used to keep track of names, ages and ID numbers, which were then transmitted to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah. As the aerial devastation continues it has become harder to keep track as vital infrastructure has been destroyed and health workers killed by the indiscriminate and sometimes targeted bombing.33 It should be noted that the figures collated after earlier aerial bombardments were seen as accurate. In fact, the current figures could be a gross underestimate, as identifying bodies buried under tons of rubble has now become almost impossible.

Oxfam estimates that the Israeli military machine is killing 250 Palestinians a day with many more prone to hunger disease and cold, which like in Sri Lanka could kill many more civilians. It is estimated that this carpet bombing of civilians is the highest daily figure for a war anywhere in the world in the last 24 years — even more than the horrific conflicts in Syria (96 deaths per day), Sudan (51.6), or Iraq (50.8). It is considerably greater than the carnage in Ukraine (43.9) and Yemen (15.8).34

Amnesty International early in the conflict began collating and analysing data from satellite imagery, verified photos, and investigated air bombardment carried out by the Israeli forces between October 7-12 and investigated five cases of bombings that wiped out whole families. It came to the conclusion in each of these cases that international humanitarian law was violated by a failure to distinguish between civilian and military targets:

In their stated intent to use all means to destroy Hamas, Israeli forces have shown a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They have pulverised street after street of residential buildings killing civilians on a mass scale and destroying essential infrastructure, while new restrictions mean Gaza is fast running out of water, medicine, and electricity.

It has decimated whole families, leaving only memories and rubble in its wake.35 At the time of writing the death toll is over 29,000, with about 60,000 wounded and the vast majority facing starvation and lack of water, medicine and shelter. Continual pressure and the lack of a political and economic solution makes the possibility of a non-violent response fade by the day.

What makes a person join the LTTE or Hamas? In Jaffna, which was under the control of the Sinhalese military, a mother of a female member of the LTTE's elite Black Tiger Unit observed: “We could not separate ourselves from the war. We lived inside it.”36

For many there is an intergenerational perspective on whether to just survive or fight back. As the mother of the cadre said: “When a child experiences too much sadness it can feel no more. We tolerate and bear everything. Not all children accept suffering.” Her daughter said: “Father was killed in the middle of Jaffna town. He was going to work in the post office, he was a peon. If I did not join, people will be pushed into slavery.”

Critics can dispassionately point out that at the time she made the statement there had been well over 300 LTTE suicide missions. These missions caused deaths and terror and hardened opposing opinions. But what good would such a hectoring, patronising and rarified tone achieve? Instead of labelling her a terrorist and a fanatic, we must first try and empathise with her very real sorrow, pain and sense of injustice and lack of rights. These are important matters we must first deal with, instead of imposing labels on the marginalised and the dispossessed. The unitarist states of Sri Lanka and Israel must be democratised from the “river to the sea” with equal rights for all. If this is not done the vicious cycle of brutal discrimination, atrocities and horrific counter offenses becomes the norm. Context is everything and the above narrative begs the question: Who are the real terrorists?


The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in a judgement of 15 to 2 against Israel, stated there is a plausible case for genocide against Palestinians. The targeting of civilians, hospitals, schools, UN compounds, mosques, universities buttress the case. The ICJ also argued that statements made by the current Israeli president and members of cabinet, combined with the actions of the military, can be construed as genocidal intent. Beleaguered prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu then let the cat out of the bag and unequivocally stated that from the river to the sea, the land is for Jewish Zionists only. Both these statements have put the Zionist project in Palestine under a critical microscope.

Miraculously, after this exposé, the Zionist state came up with evidence that 12 workers from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) were involved in the October 7 attacks. Immediately, and without assessing the evidence, Australia, Britain, and the US withdrew aid, taking no account of the fact that UNWRA has sacked nine of the accused and has started an investigation.

As mentioned, about 80% of the population of Gaza are facing imminent starvation and their principal food source is UNWRA. The fact is that many of the claims that Israel has made about Palestinians are demonstrably false, not to mention the fact that it makes no sense to attack an organisation that employs around 13,000 people because of the alleged crimes of 12 of their workers. Barely mentioned is the fact that settler fanatics are trying to block vital food going to Gaza.37 The Zionist state is yet to provide evidence to support their claims and the western countries who have withdrawn funding seem in no hurry to get the evidence, unlike the UN.

Sadly, the majority of Israelis, if opinion polls are anything to go by, support the crushing of the Palestinians. But cracks in the “rules-based order” are starting to appear. Many senior bureaucrats and journalists in the West have signed a letter deploring their countries’ double standards when it comes to Israel.38

In Sri Lanka, in 2022, it was clear that the economy was collapsing. The government had to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund to bail out the country. For many Sri Lankans this was an eye-opener, as they discovered that the existential threat of the Tamils was not the cause of their misery. It was a combination of political and bureaucratic incompetence combined with corruption. Since being granted independence in 1948 the country has never been able to pay for its imports or expand its industrial base to a degree that could make the country economically viable. Instead, the politicians kept on borrowing, resulting in periodic crises.

This time a group of young people coalesced in loose affiliations demanding the resignation of the government and structural change. This became known as the Aragalaya (the struggle in Sinhalese). It morphed into a mass protest movement that toppled the president, forcing him to flee the country. This mass movement was open to all, but its loose structure was no match for the state.

Parliament appointed as an interim president a wily operator who had decades of experience in quelling protest and shifting the gaze of the populace to manufactured enemies. This he gradually did again, with arrests, imprisonment, and thuggery, aided by the legislative, administrative, and constitutional armoury built over decades to evade scrutiny and accountability.

This suite of powers had been traditionally used against Tamils, left-wing parties, journalists, civil rights activists, and trade unionists. It was now being used on ordinary people who might have in the past supported measures against what they presumed to be the “other”.

An election will be held later this year and the disgraced political elite are preparing to return to power, blaming foreigners, minorities, and progressive political formations for the crisis which they themselves clearly caused. They seem to be clawing back some of their supporters, though whether they will succeed is still an open political question.39

With regard to both the Israeli and Sri Lankan states, the international community has, for strategic, commercial, and political reasons, been lax and gullible. Neither the Israeli nor Sri Lankan states has ever been prevailed upon to change their behaviour. For how long is the international community40 going to accept their assurances (extending over decades) that they are democratic states and their enemies are the terrorists? For killing of the “others” on an industrial scale and herding them into ghettos, the Israeli and Sri Lankan states should both be in the dock.

  • 1 Open Veins of Latin America, Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. Scribe, p.2
  • 2Balachandran, P.K., ‘The many twists and turns in Sri-Lankan Israeli Relations’. Daily Mirror, 26 December 2023.
  • 3//www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcpimtry,.php id=144&regionselect=6 Central and Southern Asia
  • 4 The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers, p. 234.
  • 5Named after a freedom fighter, Ezzedine al-Qassam, who was killed by the British military in 1935; his death was one of the triggers of the 1936-39 Arab revolt.
  • 6These figures are similar to estimates made by other media outlets including Western ones. ‘What is Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades,’ Al Jazeera, 26 October 2023.
  • 7//www.itv.news.
  • 8Figures gleaned from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. October 2023.
  • 9//theintercept.com/2024/02/07/gaza-israel-netanyahu-propaganda-lies-palestinians/
  • 10“The Occupation of the American Mind” (2016). Documentary produced by Media Education Foundation.
  • 11 Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, 31 March 2011
  • 12This was not the first time the military was brought in to quell the Tamils right to self-determination. In 1961, Major General Richard Udugama was dispatched to the north with the 1st battalion of the Ceylon (as the country was known then) army after the party representing Tamils (Federal Party) launched a peaceful disobedience (Satyagraha) campaign against Sinhalese being the sole language — with the resultant mayhem.
  • 13Cooke, Michael (2011). The Lionel Bopage Story. Agahas Publishers. In particular, pp. 235 to 294.
  • 14 History Betrayed. Melbourne University Press.
  • 15Ibid., p. xi.
  • 16//www.army.lk/news/second-national-victory-day-anniversary-celebration-honour-invaluable-rainvaru-sacrifices.
  • 17Soames, Catherine and Hawker, Sara (eds.) (2008). The Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, p. 38.
  • 18Cook, Jonathan, “Why Israel is an Apartheid State” in Malloy, Sean. Lorimer, Doug. Cook, Jonathan. Thier, Hadas. Sheppard, Barry. Palestine, Israeli Apartheid and Antisemitism. Resistance Books. 2011, p. 16.
  • 19Land allocated to Blacks during the apartheid era in South Africa.
  • 20 Jonathan Cook, pp. 15 to 35.
  • 21//www.oaklandinstitute.org/long-shadow-war
  • 22 www.womenunder seigeproject.org/conflicts/profile/Sri-lanka
  • 23 DFAT Country Information Report, Sri Lanka, January 24, 2017, p. 23
  • 24 Women Under Siege Project.
  • 25The government of the day also erroneously blamed left-wing parties like the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) – People's Liberation front.
  • 26 Cooke, Michael, pp.235 to 294.
  • 27Cooke, Michael, “War Crimes in Sri Lanka Stain or Slander?” Groundviews, 16/9/2018.
  • 28//edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/south/01/15/slankasanctions/index.html
  • 29//mondoweiss.net/2018/08/israels-policies-genocidal.
  • 30//www.nybooks.com/online/2023/12/19/the-long-war--on-gaza/
  • 31 Eid, “Israel’s policies in Gaza are genocidal”.
  • 32//www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/5/2/hamas-accept s-palestinian-state-with-1967-borders.
  • 33Sawafta, Ali and Fick, Maggie, “How many Palestinians have died in Gaza? Death Toll explained”. Published December 9, 2023. Retrieved: https:// www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/how-many-palestinians--have-died-gaza-war-how-will-counting-continue.
  • 34//www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/daily-death-rate-gaza-higher-any-other-major-21st-century-conflict-oxfam
  • 35// www.amnesty.org.latest news, 2023.10
  • 36All the conversations are from the documentary, Arnestad, B. and Daae, M. (2007) My daughter the terrorist. Snitt film Production.
  • 37//www.patreon.com/owenjones84.
  • 38 Western officials in unprecedented Gaza protest”. The New Daily, February 2, 2024.
  • 39//www.3cr.org.au/greenleftweekleyradio/episode/behind-weapons-industry-australia-economic-crisis-sri-lanka-sovereignty.
  • 40 Australia, Britain and the United States.