“Humanitarian” Concentration Camps
Richard blogs about the situation in Sri Lanka and its implications in “humanitarian” intervention and how governments use the language of human rights to justify policies of ethnic cleansing and war. Here, Richard connects the British policy of concentration camps during the Boar War to the Sri Lankan government’s policy of “humanitarian aid camps” towards the people of Tamil Eelam:
The terms of humanitarianism turn out to have crucial national and raciological dimensions (this will be vaguely familiar to British watchers of the news,who are used to being told about ‘Britons’ who died in a particular calamity). Sri Lanka constructs what it refers to as ‘refugee camps’, to contain the victims of its war, who happen to be its supposed racial enemies. And in these camps there will be a quarter of a million people without the necessities of survival, being raped and beaten and humiliated because they are Tamils. The government turns away aid (just as the Bush administration did during Katrina), and justifies it on the grounds that aid is an affront to the dignity of the victims who don’t need charity.