Video: Boycott Sri Lanka? Withdraw trade concessions? Women's livelihoods on the line!

Thousands of jobs in Sri Lanka's garment industry could be under threat because of the country's human rights record.

The European Union is meeting this week to consider changes to special privileges for the country's textile industry.

With 250,000 people still displaced by the fighting between the army and Tamil Tigers earlier this year, the EU says Colombo is not meeting its obligations on human rights.

Al Jazeera's Minelle Fernandez reports.


When some elements in the British media and a few low life British MPs called for a boycott of Sri Lankan goods and travel, Gary Brecher, author of War Nerd, couldn't see eye to eye with the suggestion.

Gary Brecher
What’s sick about this is that the British establishment destroyed the Sinhalese people completely. Completely and purposely, sadistically. Stole their land, humiliated and massacred their government, made it Imperial policy to erase every shred of self-respect the Sinhalese had left. You can talk about the Nazis all day long, but for my money nothing they did was as gross as what you find out when you actually look into the history of British-Sinhalese relations. If you can even call them “relations”; I guess a murder-rape is a relation, sort of.

But nobody knows about it. Weird, huh? Nothing weirds me out more than the total news blackout the Brits have managed to put on all the sick shit they did to brown and black people all over the world. They had a system, and it worked. They’d grab some paradise island in the tropics, use the Royal Navy to wall it off from the rest of the world, and crush the local tribe. If the locals resisted, the Brits would starve them to death, shoot them down, infect them with smallpox or get them addicted to opium–whatever they had to do to gang-rape the locals so bad that they’d lose the will to resist.
Most Sri Lankans are still wary of any European recommendations on human rights. Any suggestion of an investigation by Europeans, with an "or else" clause sounds like another invasion of their sovereignty.

Taking away a EU trade concession will destroy the livelihoods of thousands of women in Sri Lanka. Boycotts and sanctions hurt everyone on the island, even Tamils. Yet, the extremists and Tamil extremist groups portraying themselves as "rights groups" lobby for such sanctions in Europe. Not caring for over 4 million Tamils in Sri Lanka, who also stand to be effected by their actions. Boycotts and sanctions don't just hurt one ethnic group.

Amjad Saleem
Elements of the Tamil diaspora, in particular, have been active in sustaining the conflict. Some are still trying to keep the cause alive by exerting pressure on the international community to instigate war crimes proceedings or cut back on trade subsidies such as the EU's generous tariff preference, the GSP+.

However, they fail to realise that this will not harm the government and will be detrimental to the overall development of the country. Cutting tariff preferences, for example, will affect industry – which will in turn affect the livelihoods of all communities. Ultimately, taking a government to task should be done through a normal democratic process, which can only work if all elements within the country work towards that goal. The focus now has to be on the future development of the country.

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