America has bear hugs for ‘alleged’ war criminals

Thursday, 11 June 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

I recently read a news item in these pages with inevitable dismay (US donates equipment for Sri Lanka’s frontline responders to COVID-19).

The beginning of the piece tells you everything you need to know: “US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Alaina B. Teplitz yesterday handed over a donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other materials to Disaster Management Centre Director General Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Sudantha Ranasinghe to contribute to Sri Lanka’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

America is a country in turmoil. President Trump’s disgraceful behaviour continues. The stain of the Trump presidency will hang over the nation for some time. And it will hang over American foreign policy too; that certainly includes US-Sri Lanka policy. For the past few years, Washington has been prioritising security cooperation and improving the bilateral relationship at any cost. Human rights have not been a big deal. Alleged wartime abuses have not really been relevant. Ambassador Teplitz and Major General Ranasinghe are getting their picture taken. It’s all out in the open now: Washington’s woman in Colombo is eager for photo ops with folks who almost certainly have blood on their hands. The US government supports the continued militarisation of Sri Lanka. The US is embracing and rehabilitating ‘alleged’ war criminals. It certainly isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. Tamil civilians, and others, are probably appalled. I’m appalled. 

US foreign policy can be a force for good. Nevertheless, I’m quite aware of that dark side – where rights and justice are disregarded. We’re seeing that dark side now in Sri Lanka. 

 Taylor Dibbert