A guest blog by Aidan Foy, of City Live Glasgow
Despite almost 9000km of distance between the two nations, it is Police Scotland, funded by the British High Commission, that train a special task force of Sri Lankans at the Scottish Police College in Tulliallan, Fife. A partnership that has been ongoing since 2010.
The Sri Lankan civil war was partly a result of British imperialism - with one ethnic group believing that the other received preferential treatment from the British. The taskforce being trained in Fife are a part of the legacy left behind by a previous task force of British mercenaries known as ‘Keenie Meenie Services'(KMS), they have been accused of war crimes, including killings of Tamil civilians, and are currently under investigation by the Metropolitan Police.
Neil Findlay MSP addressed the Scottish government in a question, he said:
“To ask the Scottish Government whether the recent reported attempts by Sri Lanka’s police to try to stop the Tamil journalist, Punniamurthy Sasiharan, of Mamangam, Batticaloa, from covering a protest raises any concerns for it in relation to Police Scotland’s provision of community training for Sri Lankan police officers, and what the reasons are for its position on this matter.”
In response, Humza Yousaf, Minister for Justice, said:
“The programme is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and Police Scotland will re-evaluate delivery of the programme when restrictions on foreign travel are lifted. It is a matter for the Chief Constable of Police Scotland to agree the details of any training programme in Sri Lanka, and Scottish Government ministers would also consider requests for further deployments of officers, taking into consideration a range of issues, including an examination of human rights implications.”
Can we assume that the Scottish government failed in their oversight of Police Scotland on this issue or are their true intentions behind maintaining this training simply a disinterest in the involvement of operational matters at Police Scotland?
In order to gain a view of the larger picture of the UK’s ties to the conflict in Sri Lanka, I spoke with award-winning Scottish journalist and chair of Catholic peace organisation Pax Christi Scotland, Marian Pallister. In the interview below we discussed the work done by Pax Christi Scotland, their campaign around the KMS documentary, and the support they are looking for from the public.