Watching the UK Border Agency hand over Tamil refugees to a Sri Lankan regime that had tortured them prompted me to explore Whitehall’s real foreign policy towards this Indian Ocean island.
The resulting report, Britain’s dirty war against the Tamil people, 1979-2009, will be launched next week in Glasgow.
I was fortunate to be guided through this journey by Viraj Mendis, who knows British duplicity only too well. He was deported to Sri Lanka by Thatcher in 1989, after sheltering for a year inside a church in Manchester. Banned from Britain, Viraj continues to fight for Tamil peoples’ rights from his adopted home in Germany.
The report initially examines Thatcher’s policy on Sri Lanka during her decade in power. Her opening salvo was to dispatch former MI5 director (Jack Morton), a veteran of Malayaand Ireland. He reported back on ‘the depressing picture of apparatus and morale in the security forces tackling the Tamil problem’, at a time when the Tamil armed struggle for independence was just beginning.
Then, from 1983-1987, KMS Ltd, a British mercenary company comprised of ex-SAS soldiers (many of them Dhofar veterans), trained Sri Lankan police commandos, army officers and helicopter gunship pilots in counter-insurgency techniques. KMS became infamous in the late 1980s when its boss, David Walker, was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal. It is now one of Britain’s oldest private military contractors, trading under the name of Saladin Security.