Demand Britain Stop Selling Arms to Sri Lanka

Target: Prime Minister David Cameron 

Goal: Halt the sale of small arms and munitions from Britain to Sri Lanka

A recently published article in The Independent revealed that the British Government is approving the sale of small arms to Sri Lanka—a country notorious for its human rights abuses. The Sri Lankan Army, under the control of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime, is well documented for committing a plethora of atrocities including civilian targeting, rape, torture, illegal killings, and the deliberate shelling of aid workers and hospitals. The British Government and Sri Lankan officials claim that the arms and munitions are for use in maritime anti-piracy efforts. However, a lack of transparency in sales obscures the final destination of the arms. Given the track record of the Sri Lankan Army during war and times of peace, there is a serious concern about the final use of the arms.

The Sri Lankan Civil War, which started in July of 1983 and lasted nearly twenty-six years, was fought between the Sri Lankan Government and the rebel Liberation of Tigers of Tamil forces. At the center of the conflict was a liberation movement that sought to create an independent Tamil state. But in May of 2009, after a four month intensive push by the Sri Lankan government, the rebel Tamil Tigers were forced to concede defeat. During the war both sides were guilty of committing war crimes. However, the end of the conflict did not bring with it an end to the human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan forces. Earlier this month, the Sri Lankan Navy was accused of arresting and thrashing twelve Indian fishermen from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. This practice of torturing and killing Indian Tamil fishermen who stray into Sri Lankan waters is a decades-old practice and is a clear violation of the fishermen’s human rights. Despite the continued human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan regime, the British government has done nothing to either prevent arms sales, nor openly investigate the final destination and intended use of the arms and munitions.

British arms manufacturers require a license to export arms and munitions to foreign governments. Records on sales of arms indicate that in the months from July to September of 2012 the British Government approved licenses, valued at over £3 million, for the sale of assault rifles, rifles, pistols, shotguns, body armor, and munitions. Moreover, there were no refusals of licenses to export arms and munitions during the entire last quarter of 2012. Given the state of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, it is appalling to think the British government is so casually approving the sale of weapons. Sign below to let Prime Minister David Cameron know you support the halt of arms sales to Sri Lanka.


Dear Prime Minister David Cameron,

The sale of British arms and munitions to Sri Lanka must stop. During the Sri Lankan Civil War the Sri Lankan Army was responsible for a plethora of human rights abuses. These included civilian targeting, rape, torture, illegal killings, and the deliberate shelling of aid workers and hospitals. These atrocities did not end with the end of the war. Even today, the Sri Lankan Navy is well-documented for capturing, torturing, shelling and killing of Indian fishermen.

Given the continued record of human rights abuses there is no justifiable explanation for the sale of arms and munitions to Sri Lanka. Continuing to casually grant export licenses to arms manufactures despite the ambiguous destination and final use of the arms is tantamount to supporting crimes against humanity. Please immediately halt the granting of licenses to arms manufacturers until transparency can be established or the Sri Lankan Government ends it continued human rights abuses.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: rgreenhill 1337 via deviantART

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58 Signatures

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