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Syria Air Strikes – Are Bombs the Way…

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I would like to begin with mention and introduction to the most important factors surrounding the complicated topic of Air Bombing Campaigns. It seems that too often the way is always The Bombing way – Bombs away, bombs away, bombs away!

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Air Strikes

The Governments across the World have been doing this for too long; when will this mad and crazy envisaged and implemented notion stop where so many innocent civilians die and often lives are destroyed for many years if not completely. I can write about this with confidence as I have spoken to people who wish to remain anonymous who have lived in fear of bombs and have had to rebuild homes as well as see family members and friends die from the carnage caused by air strikes.

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Terrorism

Air Strikes have not stopped Terrorism instead fueled it, and it was argued by many that it is an effective approach in combating Terrorism, an argument which now holds less strength, in a World where we’ve seen more Terrorism since 9/11.

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Nuclear weapons / Chemical Attacks

Instead Governments should say away with bombs, away with Nuclear weapons, however I would like to focus for now on how The World should say no to these horrific air bombing campaigns.

The war in Syria is the worst exodus since the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago. Especially with Assad’s use of chemical gas/weapons and most recently with a chemical chlorine attack.

Human Rights

England and many other Western and non-Western countries talk of human rights and being countries integral to Religion with Peace and Harmony at its centrality. Surely causing destruction in other countries caused by these campaigns are far from Peaceful and with ones’ Human Rights on point.

There needs to be some perspective in these situations and the public have shown there concern on many occasions with protests too. Many people signed the petitions to stop the action of bombing in Syria. Which has also been a catalyst to more refugees fleeing the country.

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Public Awareness/Division

The UK public seemed divided on Bombing on Syria as were the MP’s who voted whether to launch air strikes in Syria; significantly this division was seen in the BR-EXIT where those wanting to remain in the EU were closely matched to the numbers to exit, whose main rhetoric was about the influx of immigrants many of whom would obviously be refugees to the UK fleeing Syria. Anti-war demonstrators gathered outside Downing Street and other locations across the UK to make their voice heard, after so many setbacks from the previous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq surely many felt that this war in Syria would have the same outcome.

The UK government’s case is built on the argument that bombing would disrupt the ability of Isis to organize attacks in Europe, while containing the extremist group by denying it territory and access to finance, primarily through oil exports.

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Russian Controversy

Russia has been poor in setting an example, by going all out and bombing everywhere across Syria. The UK and US did not waste much time in bombing Syria either and they were quick to push ahead with their campaigns. President Assad is still in charge in Syria and his cruel regime is still using chemical weapons on the innocent civilians. With President Assad still in power the US and the UK will have seen this as a failure although they may say it is still too soon to title this war as such.

Russia’s President Putin has been backing Assad to stay as President and this has become a confusing combination in the war in Syria with air strikes happening from every direction, targeting US and Turkish fighters as well as anyone seen to oppose the regime currently in place with Bashr Al Assad at the top; the civilians on the ground would obviously find it difficult to differentiate between US, UK, French and Russian planes, and as a result are living with death all around them whilst trying to survive being bombed on a regular basis.

Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, mosques and a busy markets, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, says ‘Amnesty International’.

“The number of civilian casualties from Russian bombardment is far higher than the number caused by American and French airstrikes,” said Wael Aleji, spokesman for the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

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Destruction

There needs to be a leading nation for promoting Peace and instead of engaging in War there has to be further interest in investing against Terrorism. The UK has been bombed in the bygone past when Germany used aerial bombing strikes.

It seems as if those memories need to be related to now, even more so now. How can the insensitivity of bombs which nowadays with all the modern technology available are even more dangerous not be banned all together.

Power in the missiles launched cause mass damage and have huge radius, despite claims that they are precision based strikes there are many innocent civilian casualties in every strike. The destruction happening is reminiscent of the past whether it be Pearl Harbour, Germany bombing the UK, or Iraq and Afghanistan and other middle east countries like Iran and Lebanon.

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Financial Interests

Behind this facade of helping the innocent civilians through bombing campaigns there is the sinister situation where the rich nations are profiting from the sales in modern weaponry and aerial bombs, the arms industry is worth billions and the Governments around the World benefit from this lucrative business trading and buying and selling; once the destructive damage has been done by dropping bombs, the Governments award contracts to rebuild, the UK and US did this in Iraq making money from contracts given to corporations within the UK and US who are often donors to Governments in Power.

The economies of the countries conducting the rebuilding on such a mass scale has a rewarding effect on their economy.

New airports are re-built, buildings, military bases, etc all bring in business; not to mention oil from these countries exported at extortionate prices. These war torn countries economies suffer as a result of this exploitation and this effects its citizens directly.

The Guardian News titled one of their articles in 2013 : “Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern.” The article went on to say that “Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines.” It also mentioned the reliance on Middle East oil :

“The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized… For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources… The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.”

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Syria’s People – Refugee Crisis

Moving away from financial aspects, I would like to focus on the people aspect however; a recent statistic from Syria provided by Mercy Corps is :

“Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes.”

And the UN says millions of Syrians need our help, According to the U.N., it will take £5 billion to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable Syrians in 2016. The U.N. estimates that 6.6 million people are internally displaced. When you also consider refugees, well over half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, whether they still remain in the country or have escaped across the borders.

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Conflict and Children

Mercy Corps also says of the conflict and bombing that:

“More than five years after it began, the full-blown civil war has killed over 250,000 people, half of whom are believed to be civilians. Bombings are destroying crowded cities and horrific human rights violations are widespread. In October 2015, Russia began launching airstrikes at ISIS targets in Syria. The bombings have continued, so far killing at least 2,000 civilians and forcing even more Syrians to flee for safety.”

Syrians are now the largest refugee population in the world. Almost 5 million Syrians have registered or are awaiting registration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is leading the regional emergency response. According to the UN, more than half of all Syrian refugees are under the age of 18. Most have been out of school for months, if not years.

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Twitter Controversy

Anti-Isis activist group ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently’ warned on Twitter that airstrikes which kill civilians undermine the fight against Isis and they said of the bombings – “Congratulations to the Coalition u have a new 160 #ISIS new fighters who will join the fight against u after u kill 160 civilian ##Manbij”

Population decline

Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution (2011), there have been more than 115 thousand civilian casualties and 5 percent of all deaths in Syria are caused by terrorist attacks. Due to the high number of casualties, millions of people have fled Syria and in 2014, Syria had one of the the highest population decline rates in the world.

Al-Tukhar & Manbij strikes

Most recently was the bombing of Al-Tukhar and Manbij which has resulted in the largest loss of civilian life by coalition operations in Syria.

“There must be a prompt, independent and transparent investigation to determine what happened, who was responsible, and how to avoid further needless loss of civilian life,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

Terrorist Trouble

Bombing hinders the innocent Syrian civilians and at publishing the bombing still continues; Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said of the bombings that “In Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Mosul, Isis is living almost totally among civilians, so you can’t hit them.”

He pointed out that thousands of foreign jihadi had managed to travel to and from Syria for the past few years through Turkey and questioned the wisdom of now trying to stop militants with bombs when they could have been stopped with tighter border controls. The Paris conspirators, including the presumed ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, were able to travel between Belgium, France and Syria while the US-led airstrikes targeting Isis command and control were in full swing.

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Legality & War Crimes

The legality of the War in Syria has also been questioned after the world has witnessed foreign intervention, as to who wanted President Assad removed and whether the international bombings in Syria have contributed to human rights violations.

“Some Russian air strikes appear to have directly attacked civilians or civilian objects by striking residential areas with no evident military target and even medical facilities, resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians. Such attacks may amount to war crimes,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

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Syria’s Economy after Foreign Intervention

“The medium-term macroeconomic prospects hinge on containing the war and finding a political resolution to the conflict, and rebuilding the damaged infrastructure and social capital. Violence continues to disrupt the production and distribution of goods and services, and impedes economic activity. Barring a cessation of the conflict, the country’s human and physical capital stock is expected to continue to shrink.” (worldbank.org)

The conflict has significantly damaged the country’s public and private assets including health, education, energy, water and sanitation, agriculture, transportation, housing and other infrastructure. The Syria Center for Policy Research estimated that, for the whole country, the destruction of physical infrastructure amounted to $75 billion. The UN estimated that it would need an investment of $180 billion to bring Syrian GDP back to pre-conflict levels.

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Conclusion

After having spoken to a Syrian gentlemen who lived 19 years in Syria and then moved to the UK; he told me he was upset and saddened to see what was happening in Syria he said that the political complexities are so vast that everyone seems confused about the situation, and the foreign intervention has not helped anything; “I am angered by the amount of civilians dying in Foreign Air Strikes, this war is about more than Assad, if the West wanted him out it would have happened by now. Instead he still lives in the comfort of Syria and is still using chemical weapons.”

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I would like to conclude with a part of the conversation which really summed up my concern for Syrians being bombed in these horrific air strikes;

“You don’t think about these air strikes till it happens to you or your family or friends, before you accept these bombings from all sides you should really think about the devastation, what if this happened to you, that’s when you really feel it, before it happens to you give some thought to those being bombed and try and make a difference, stand up for the Syrians.”

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Sri Lanka’s scary past UNHRC ensuring accountability for Future

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Sri Lanka has a scary past and the previous governments and their Presidents have witnessed the country in a state of turmoil, with so many deaths numbering  70,000 after 25 years of war plagued with suicide bombings and rife in violation of Human rights abuses on both sides.

This number grew to estimates between 25,000 to 75,000 alone in the final two years of the civil war, between Tamil rebels and the government armed forces when there was a massacre in 2009.

The number the government put the final phase assault, was at 9,000 which many Human rights groups contest.

The UNHRC had at one point commended Sri Lanka for an apparent turn around in the number of war crimes and violation of human rights.

It was shortly discovered that Sri Lanka’s government army was killing thousands and by the number and no prosecutions were occurring whereas war crimes were taking place and violations of human rights were in abundance.

NATION AT WAR
Army and Tamil separatists were engaged in conflict involving air raids, roadside blasts, suicide bombings, land and sea battles. Hospitals were attacked and civilians including children, women and men were killed and abused in a barrage of constant attacks in North and East of Sri Lanka.

A 2011 UN report said hospitals, UN centres and ships belonging to the Red Cross were deliberately targeted by the army. The government was accused of using heavy weaponry and shelling in a government-designated “safe zone” for civilians.

Now the United Nations Human Rights Council has taken a stance on Sri Lanka by passing a consensus resolution which the Sri Lanka government and current President Maithripala Sirisena have agreed to implement after attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York (Oct 2nd, 2015) he is now back in the Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.

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The core UNHRC group which proposed the resolution, including the US and UK governments will want to see progress from Sri Lanka and the President of Sri Lanka was positive and said on the resolution that he will “discuss various issues concerning reconciliation, the government will hold conferences with all political parties, leaders of all religions, intellectuals and Sri Lankan diaspora”

The President has a task ahead to include everyone unlike in the past where many have been sidelined and left without a voice, now the UNHRC have pushed forward an agenda and a challenge of inclusiveness to the Sri Lankan government. Although the President has been making promises on reconciliation since his newly elected government came to power.

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UK Prime minister David Cameron said: “Britain is committed to standing up for those affected by Sri Lanka’s civil war, and has been instrumental in the United Nations (UN) investigation and adoption of this resolution. I welcome the Sri Lankan government’s commitment to ensuring those responsible are held to account and I encourage them to continue to work with the UN.”

The country is stunning and beautiful, yet Sri Lanka’s citizens lives have been far from beautiful with the country in civil war for the past 25 years.

It is appalling that so many innocent children, women, and men have lost their lives in these dangerous conflicts and in such a tragic way.

The country’s leaders and their governments have been on the sidelines allowing mass murder to occur & atrocities that have upset the international organization UNHRC as well as many human rights groups.

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The Human Rights groups and Tamil groups have not been quite on this issue pointing out that there is no international investigation to take place when there was previously talk of one likely to take place and that the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is not going to be in the electric chair and the country is not on any blacklist for war crimes. An upset and shocked reality for them.

Humanosphere.org’s headline before the resolution was passed was:

“U.N. resolution may not offer justice for Sri Lanka’s war victims”

Humanosphere.org cover topics on poverty and world health.

As I mentioned the reason they stated for their headline was not having any international involvement which they stated could mean more difficulty for the people of Sri Lanka to acquire fair justice.

The Terrorism Act in Sri Lanka is often a matter of controversy, as it is seen as being misused to target people of minority unfairly and the human rights violations which follow down this path in mass numbers.

The Government have said they are genuinely fighting terrorists, however this resolution will now place Sri Lanka further in the limelight and under the careful watch of the international community.

Amnesty International urged the global community and Sri Lankan authorities to see to it that victims and their families were consulted at every step of the process to get to truth and justice; expressing disappointment over the dilution of principles of justice in the resolution.

The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), a New York-based body, however said it would form an international team comprising judges, lawyers and human rights specialists to monitor the implementation of the resolution.”

Violation of people’s human rights needs to be taken seriously; If the constitution is reviewed in the future, it may well mean that the judges of the courts will be international rather than from Sri Lanka and there may be international courts within Sri Lanka to try against war crimes, which is what many are calling for as it is viewed as an open unbiased and democratic process and un-corrupt from internal agendas.

Sri Lanka should embrace its diversity, if not for the citizens then for the  image it portrays to the world, though this hasn’t stopped other leaderships such as President Assad of Syria and his chemical attack, and the lessons are there to be learnt from the unjustifiable wars and the war crimes taking place.

Whether Sri Lanka will move away from this murderous air of hostility  many will hope, with a vision to see no more bloody times in this beautiful country that is theirs and should be able to democratically deal with these horrors internally, although not corruptly.

Another chance for Sri Lanka then; they should not abuse the opportunity to the country’s own governance of their courts they have been given a chance to strive for the country’s peace, independent of international investigations and international court systems.

The President on his return from the UN General Assembly was welcomed by many and greeted with peace offerings, whether he chooses to lead the country in a positive and peaceful direction, Sri Lanka’s people will hope.

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The resolution calls for an oral report in June 2016 and a written report in March 2017.

Peace for the future, is a big ask of a country with such a tragic past, but there is always hope that Sri Lanka may surprise everyone with a turn around in their violent past.

KEY information ABOUT THE SRI LANKAN CIVIL WAR:

Period: July 23, 1983 – May 18, 2009

The Civil war began with ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in the northeast. Recriminations over Human rights abuses by both sides continue.

A UN report published in 2011 said both sides in the conflict committed war crimes against civilians. The Sri Lankan government rejected this and later reports as biased.

The US in 2012 said that “serious human rights violations” including disappearances, torture, summary killings and threats to free expression persisted in Sri Lanka, despite the end to the bloody separatist war with Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

The comments came at the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Tamil Tigers are also known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE  guerrilla organization sought to establish an independent Tamil state, Eelam, in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

The LTTE was established in 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran as the successor to an organization he had formed earlier in the 1970s. The LTTE grew to become one of the world’s most sophisticated and tightly organized insurgent groups. During the 1970s the organization carried out a number of guerrilla attacks.

In 1983, after the killing of 13 soldiers by Tamil guerrillas and retaliatory attacks by the Sri Lankan military, large-scale violence erupted between the government and the LTTE.

By 1985 the group was in control of Jaffna and most of the Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka. Under Prabhakaran’s orders, the LTTE had eliminated most of its rival Tamil groups by 1987.

To fund its operations, the group engaged in illegal activities (including bank robberies and drug smuggling) and the extortion of Tamils in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, but it also received considerable voluntary financial support from Tamils living abroad.

The LTTE lost control of Jaffna in October 1987 to an Indian peacekeeping force IPKF that had been sent to Sri Lanka to assist in the implementation of a complete cease-fire. However, following the withdrawal of the IPKF in March 1990, the Tigers grew in strength and conducted several successful guerrilla operations and terrorist attacks.

On May 21, 1991, a suicide bomber killed former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi while he was campaigning in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Other attacks included an August 1992 land-mine explosion in Jaffna, which killed 10 senior military commanders; the May 1993 assassination of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa; a January 1996 suicide bomb attack on the central bank of Colombo that killed 100 people; and a July 2001 attack on Colombo’s international airport that destroyed half of the country’s commercial airliners.

An elite unit of the LTTE, the Black Tigers,” was responsible for carrying out suicide attacks.

If faced with unavoidable capture by Sri Lankan authorities, those operatives and others purportedly committed suicide by swallowing cyanide capsules that they wore around their necks.

For more information on the Sri Lanka civil war you may want to visit the link below:

http://asianhistory.about.com/od/Sri_Lanka/fl/The-Sri-Lankan-Civil-War.htm

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