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Editorial   


 

Lessons from anarchy in Britain

The world watched aghast this week as riots broke out in London, the British capital and thousands of youth took to the streets, looting shops and setting them on fire, all seemingly over a Police shooting a few days earlier.
What was even more alarming was that the riots then spread to other cities, as far as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, as removed as they were from the scene of the first incident, indicating that there was some social upheaval brewing in Britain for some time now.
British authorities have so far not blamed the events on a communist or Islamist conspiracy but it begs the question as to what prompted this horrendous turn of events and we must also examine the response of the rest of the world to them.
The riots could not have been merely a reaction to the Police shooting for, if it was, there is no reason for it to spread far and wide. What then caused these events in the traditionally staid British society?
The vast majority of perpetrators were youth and they were not all from the marginalised sections of society such as the unemployed, those with criminal backgrounds and drugs addicts. Apparently there were even schoolteachers and members of the opera among the looters and arsonists!
Some of the youth responsible, when interviewed did say that they rioted simply to ‘have a good time’ but others pointed out that Britain today was a vastly polarised society where there was callous indifference towards the needs of the poor while the super-rich indulged in mind-boggling luxury.
We are certain that in the coming weeks and months these events will be analysed ad nauseam and many hypotheses will emerge but the incidents should remind us that Britain and the western ideals that they represent may not always be the ultimate utopia that they preach about so much.
We say so because lately, Sri Lanka has been coming in for much criticism from a cabal of nations spearheaded by the United States and Britain over alleged human rights violations during the conclusion of the war and these charges have now reached absurd proportions.
This campaign against Sri Lanka, carried out at the behest of the Tamil Diaspora has attained such ridiculous heights that a sovereign government has been called upon to explain itself on the basis of an unsubstantiated video broadcast by a television station with dubious credentials!
If that can be construed as the opinion of the so-called, self-proclaimed ‘international community’ regarding the problems in Sri Lanka, could the same be said of their reaction to the recent events in Britain, which according to some brought back conjured images of revolution?
No nation has rushed to issue a travel ban on Britain – and not even a travel advisory asking for caution when travelling to that country. The Indian cricket team is currently touring England and is, in fact, playing in Birmingham but no one has called for a cancellation of the tour.
London is to also host the Olympic Games in 2012. There was some suggestion that the riots were the result of resentment against mega spending on the infrastructure for the games, while London’s underprivileged communities wallowed in poverty. Is it safe for the Olympics to be held there, then?
These questions have not been asked, not yet, anyway. Britain’s inquisitive media and its international counterparts who consider themselves to be the ultimate authorities on what is right and what is wrong, have not dared to raise these issues. So much for the ‘high’ standards of their journalism.
Can one imagine for a moment the Olympics being held in Colombo and some sort of civil unrest emerging barely a year earlier in the city? What would then be the fate of the games? Wouldn’t the self-same ‘international community’ erupt in protest?
In 1996, when Sri Lanka co-hosted the cricket World Cup, the Australian and West Indian teams refused to tour the country saying it was ‘unsafe’ and forfeited their games. Yet, with rioting going on all around them, no one dares to express concern for the safety of the Indian cricketers in England!
What all this demonstrates in no uncertain terms is that in the world today, there is a manifest system of double standards. The West, because of its financial might, is always right. The rest of us, no matter what we do, are always wrong.
That is why Sri Lanka now finds itself in the predicament of having to justify its actions during the final phase of the Eelam war. This is also why, no matter what explanation is provided by our country, they are rejected as lacking ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’.
This is not to say to Britain, ‘serves you right’ over the recent events there. It suffices to say that anarchy, in whatever form and wherever it is found, must be resisted. And that is exactly what Sri Lanka did in launching the final Eelam war, nothing more, nothing less.