09 August 2011

Let sanity prevail in London!

I am deeply traumatized and concerned about the recent outbreak of violence in London.  The news has been hugely sobering.  Although it started with a more or less peaceful protest in Tottenham on Saturday following the fatal shooting by police of 29 year old Mark Duggan in an assassination-style execution with shots to the head, it quickly snowballed or rather fireballed into wanton destruction of public property, looting and arson. 

Rioting has quickly spilled over to other suburbs.  The residents, i.e. those who are not taking part in the violence, are naturally shocked.  ‘It’s like a war zone; I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Ealing resident Chritian Potts said, echoing sentiments those of residents in other townships. 

Several fires had broken out in Croydon, including one at a large sofa factory, spreading to nearby buildings and tam lines.  Police cars were severely damaged in Hackney.  Looters raided a Debenhams store and row of ships in Clamham. A Sony warehouse in Solar Way, Enfield, a shopping centre in Woolwich New Road, a timber yard in Plashet Grove, East Ham and a building on Lavender Hill were all set on fire.  A Tesco store was looted in Bethnal Green.  Cars were set on fire in Lewisham.  A bus and shot were set on fire in Peckham.  Football matches in Charlton and West Ham have been postponed.  Looters attacked shops, smashing windows and stealing items in Birmingham City Centre.  Windows have been smashed in McDonalds and Jessops near Birmingham Cathedral.

When violence spread in this manner and the authorities find it hard to do anything about it, it is perhaps natural for the media to focus on the criminality.  Google ‘London Riots’ right now and click on any link that appears.  Now press Control-F and type ‘Mark Duggan’.  You might get ‘no result’ or else find that the name has slipped into footnote.  What we are seeing is not righteous anger about some individual being killed by overzealous policemen.  That may have been ‘spark’, but the violence and criminality speaks to deep seated discontent and frustration among a significant section of the population. 

Social media, mobile phones and other such devices are being widely used to alert people to places marked for violence.  One would assume this allows the law enforcing authorities to step and take preventive measures, but what has happened is that the mobs have come nevertheless and indeed have prevailed over the police. 

Britain is clearly in trouble.  Sri Lanka is a member of the Commonwealth and as a citizen of Sri Lanka, I sincerely hope that the relevant authorities don’t stop at stopping the wave of rioting but seek to understand its root causes and take corrective measures.  I am indeed relieved that no one has tried to make it out that Islamic extremists had orchestrated it all. I hope sanity continues to prevail on this count.   

Teresa May, the Home Secretary has quite rightly said that the criminals would be brought to justice.  She adds, ‘There is no excuse for violence, looting and thuggery’.  It is hoped that these sentiments are endorsed by her counterpart in the Foreign Office.  Perhaps also, the British media would take a cue and begin to see the startling similarities between what London has seen over the past few days and what many countries have seen and are seeing the British do: violence, theft and thuggery.  There cannot be excuses, Ms. May is absolutely correct. There is no place in the civilized world for what Ms. May calls ‘sheer criminality’ and we heartily agree that those responsible should face the consequences of their actions.

Mrs May condemned the riots as 'sheer criminality' and said those responsible would 'face the consequences of their actions'. I support her without reservation.

Once again, I sincerely hope that normalcy returns to London.  I sincerely hope that sanity prevails.  I call upon all relevant authorities as well as the general citizenry, including those disgruntled sections currently perpetrating these criminal acts, to exercise the utmost calm and patience and resolve all grievances in a dignified and civilized manner.  As a fraternal state in the Commonwealth, Sri Lanka stands firm with Britain on the side of democracy and civilization, or so the relevant authorities in Colombo should state.  I hope the Government of Britain will take all necessary steps to bring to justice Duggan's killers and that if it is felt that local precedures are inadequate, will submit itself to the scrutiny of a team of independent international investigators.

All things considered, all of Britain would I am sure understand that given the ground realities, it is incumbent on countries like Sri Lanka to do the needful in terms of ensuring the safety of Sri Lankans living in Britain. I quote here a 'Travel Advisory' drafted by my friend Vinod Moonesinghe: 

'We advise against all travel to the United Kingdom. Sri Lankan nationals in Britain should leave now by commercial means whilst these are still available. Those who choose to remain in Britain, or to visit against our advice should be aware that it is highly unlikely that the Sri Lanka High Commission would be able to provide a normal consular service in the event of a further breakdown in law and order and increased violent civil disorder. Evacuation options would be limited because of likely communication and travel restrictions. If, despite our clear advice to leave you choose to remain, please make sure you and your family have a valid exit stamp on your travel documents if you need one to leave Britain.
This advice to leave Britain is because of continued violent disturbances in urban centres across the country, including the capital London'.
‘No part of Britain should be considered immune from violence and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts.
‘You should be vigilant and take extra care, particularly in and around landmarks and places where large public crowds can gather. Hotels, shops and restaurants used by the international community have been attacked in the past and it is likely that there will be further such attacks.
‘Britain has a high threat of terrorism and specific methods of attack are evolving and increasing in sophistication.
‘We advise against all but essential travel to Birmingham and Liverpool
‘We advise against all travel to areas within Greater London.'
Again, my heart goes out to the whole of Britain, fraternal country in the Commonwealth.  Let there be peace in London.   Let it begin with thee, ye brothers and sisters in Britain.



Patta Pal said...

At least we can see what is going on in Britain. In Sri Lanka it is not reported so one smugly takes a patronizing pose. This kind of we are better than them attitude is a little condescending to say the least.

Let them handle their problems and let us handle ours. We seem to prefer to comment on other people's problems in preference to the serious issues we must grapple with.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

was making the same point...handle your tumours, let us handle ours.you've missed the irony, i think. :)

Mango said...

Gota should offer to send in the STF as re-inforcements :) The only people resisting the looters are Turkish & Kurdish shopkeepers.


Anonymous said...

British PM ask Mahinda Mama to send the OIC of Katunayake Police Station to London ASAP :)

Anonymous said...

Iran urged Britain Tuesday to avoid using force to suppress riots that have rocked London, mischievously turning the tables on Western critics of its own human rights record.

Anonymous said...

How ironical! What a twist of fate!
So called champions of the Human Rights and minority rights can't stop minorities from mercilessly being attacked.The brunt of the damage including looting had been caused to the shop owners of the non-Whites perpetrated by the Whites.

Anonymous said...

France and Austria issued travel advisories to their citizens and a Belgian lawmaker said he feared copycat violence spreading to his own country.

"It must be weird for Londoners to read travel advisory from foreign countries against the UK; usually the other way around," tweeted Gulf social commentator Mishaal al-Gergawi from a region that has witnessed a lot of civic unrest in the Arab Spring

Anonymous said...

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the British government should "exercise restraint," avoid using violence and instead "talk to protesters and listen to their requests," the official IRNA news agency reported.

Anonymous said...

A member of Iran's parliament, Hossein Ebrahimi, told the semi-official Fars news agency that Britain should allow a delegation of human rights monitors to examine the situation.

Anonymous said...

May be we should suggest that the evolving events in the UK be labelled as the 'European Winter'. Do you think the Western Press will rush to adopt this new label ?

Mango said...

Don't worry, according to the BBC, the looters and rioters are 'protesters'. This is the same BBC that couldn't bring itself to call the LTTE 'terrorists'.


Some things never change.

Anonymous said...

Pedantic note of correction: Mark Duggan was not shot in the head. He was killed by a shot to the chest; and also was shot once in the thigh.

The rioting and looting has little to do with Mark Duggan and I would be surprised if many of the people perpertrating those acts knew his name. Britain has failed these people so that they think that this is a legitimate way in which they can get what they want or make themselves heard. As a British-born Sri Lankan, I would've hoped that fellow Sri Lankans would have had the depth to rise above petty comparisons and focus on the majority of people in London and other affected cities who are scared beyond belief.

Mango said...

@ Anonymous Pedant:
Britain has not 'failed' them. They've been indulged beyond reason. They want to 'make themselves heard'? Are you nuts? By stealing from equally downtrodden Turkish shopkeepers?

No, these violent teenagers are no different to the Sinhalese mobs who attacked the Tamils with impunity because they knew they could. These looters and arsonists are nothing more than opportunist criminals. End of story.

Next week, they'll be complaining that they aren't able to collect their dole payments.

Have a look here and you'll see the depths to which the UK Police have been reduced -- having to listen to some ranting scrote going on about 'justice'. The only justice on display should be a baton charge and mass arrests.