Last Friday was the Royal Wedding, that of Prince William and Kate Middleton of Britain. No, this is not another post about the Royal Wedding, I am sure you have had enough of it already.
Anyway, I went to Buckingham Palace with some friends on the day of the Wedding, I was not necessarily interested in the occasion, but I did go for photographic purposes. Does that qualify as having been part of the Wedding proceedings from a ‘commoner’s point of view ? yes it does, I was about 10 meters away from the balcony that the newly married couple kissed – except that they kissed in the morning and I was there with thousands of others at about six o’ clock in the evening. Still, there was a lot of pomp and pageantry, I can only imagine how it would have been in the morning.
As I said, this post is not about the Royal Wedding.
The War crimes allegations in Sri Lanka are serious indeed, very serious. The atrocities allegedly committed by the LTTE and the GoSL are extremely heinous and painful to fathom. Those accused if guilty must be brought to justice and penalised as deemed fit.
This post is not about war crimes in Sri Lanka either, that too has got a lot of attention.
He went on to expose such atrocious war crimes committed during the time of the British Imperial empire that it overshadows many of the war crimes that the West peeks into. (Imperial)Britain though not as nosy as the USA and with a better human rights record, has committed a significant amount of War crimes that need to be discussed if a future sans such heinous acts can even be contemplated.
Don’t get me wrong, I have lived and studied in Britain for the good part of five years now, I have never had tertiary education outside Britain, and after Sri Lanka I love Britain the most, and after Sri Lankans there are no peoples in the world I love more than the British. Some of my closest friends are British, regular readers may have read this post here. This is not an emotional rant either.
But a spade has to be called a spade.
Of war crimes and atrocities, this is true – the order and instructions for war crimes come from a negligible fraction of a population at the upper end of the political hierarchy and for this, the whole nation should not be held to account.
The British people should not be held directly accountable for the war crimes committed in their name by their leaders. This applies to any people, the people of imperial powers such as America, France, Italy, or people of developing nations such as Sri Lanka or the countries in the Middle East for that matter.
One may argue that an order for a war crime to be carried out cannot come from the top without the connivance of the people that elected them. This is also true, but the instances where a whole populace disapproves of the war crimes committed by their leaders far outnumber the instances where a whole populace approves of the war crimes committed by their leaders.
Again, there is another twist. There are instances where imperial powers committed war crimes, but importantly that has almost always been against peoples of other nations. Not to suggest that this somehow dilutes the crime. But war crimes against one’s own people is a far greater crime indeed. We have seen that in history again and again, and I fear we may not have seen the last of that phenomena.
I have posted the video above where Johann Hari very eloquently discusses war crimes committed by the British Imperial empire where millions of people died, including the British instigated famine in India in the late 1800’s where more than twenty million people died. Well worth a watch.
On that sombre note, have a great week everyone!