A Drama in Four Acts: Dishonest Reportage by Amnesty International and Aussie Journalists remains Unmasked

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/dishonest-reportage-by-ai-aussie-journalists-remains-unmasked-a-drama-in-two-acts/, 2 September 2015, where it is presented in Two Acts

    A. Thoughts on My Abject Failure

On the 31st March 2011 a panel of lawyers appointed by Ban Ki-Moon submitted a review of the Sri Lankan War IV without ever visiting the island. The report was composed in the manner of a prosecuting team rather than a judicial assessment. It was as slipshod in its methodology as flawed in several of its conclusions. Nevertheless, it is widely cited in a number of quarters, quarters hostile to the admittedly distasteful Rajapaksa Regime and happy to have any cane to beat up their activities.

A headmaster wielding a cane must have judiciousness on his side. Moral crusaders such as, say, Amnesty International must adhere to ethics in presentation and quotation. But, as it happens, the last four years have seen blatant dishonesty in quotation as well as interpretation.

Though aware that the LTTE personnel were often fighting without wearing uniforms and that it was well-nigh impossible to differentiate between “civilians” and “soldiers” in some situations, the UNPoE proceeded to this conclusion in one of its key segments: “a number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths” (para 137 on page 41).

What has transpired since? Take one early instance: Amnesty International substituted “credible” allegations with “credible evidence” when quoting this report. ‘A report submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on 12 April 2011 by the Panel of Experts he appointed to advise him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka “found credible evidence, which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law was committed by both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity” (from one of their reports as quoted by Harshula in Groundviews in 2011).

H 110b 09_05_09__Mulli-vaaykkaal_14  Fig. 1a  – from TamilNet, 9th May 2009 … is typical of the crowded scenes displaying the difficulties faced by the Tamil peoples trapped in the Vanni Pocket and thereafter within the Last Redoubt on the north eastern shoreline.

12_05_09_hosp_attack_04 85b--19_02_09_01  Figs. 2 & 3 from TamilNetInjured and ill at makeshift clinic or hospital. For other snapshots of death & grief, see Roberts, Tamil Person & State. Pictorial, 2014: Figs. 84-88. In line with LTTE policy as outlined by Pulidevan (see quotation in the text below) the Western media circuit and Western observers in Colombo were fed  exaggerated and/or concocted reports of shellfire hits on hospitals and widespread casualties. There can be no doubt that civilian casualties occurred as a result of SL Army shelling and the sporadic aerial strikes. The issue is: HOW o work out the numbers and to decide on proportionality in terms of the context set up by the LTTE’s refusal to let the people (those who wished to) leave. On this issue, see IDAG 2013 and Noble 2013. Note that in a recent communication PK Balachandran (Indian Express) said this in passing: “Towards the end of the war, when civilians were massed into a very small place, no shelling was resorted to but ground operations were going on day and night mopping up the remnants of the LTTE.”

Amnesty International was not an isolated instance and Harshula’s essay of mid-2011 in a web-site devoted to the liberal human rights cause pinpointed a number of other reports which made the same alteration. Amnesty International then indicated that this was a typological error and said that they would make a correction (they had not yet done so in June 2011).

Be that as it may, Amnesty International was not alone. I have certainly heard Kerry O’Brien of ABC present this ‘fact’ on air. As Harshula indicated, a whole swathe of pious individuals and organisations had indulged in the same error. This in itself is suspicious. The consternation is compounded now, some four years later, when one finds the error – an act of dishonesty in effect – inscribed in stone. Esteemed organisations as well as every Tom, Dick and Mary of a reporter believes that the UNPoE had discovered “credible evidence” of 40,000 civilian deaths during the last five months of Eelam War IV — that is between 1 January and 19th May 2009.

Amanda Hodge of The Australian has recently joined the brigade peddling duplicity on this issue. On Thursday 20th August, in reporting Mahinda Rajapaksa’s failure to win a parliamentary majority in the General Elections held in August, she added: “Mr Rajapaksa’s bid at a political comeback, by winning enough seats to become prime minister, has been widely interpreted as an attempt to protect himself, his family and allies from prosecution relating to a slew of charges arising from his 10 years in power. They potentially include war crimes charges relating to the last months of the civil war in which as many as 40,000 civilians were killed.”

So: here we see definitiveness once again – a distortion of some consequence, something drummed into the careless world of journalism by constant repetition that could, conceivably, be the product of orchestration and manipulation.**

A Sri Lankan Aussie’s Failure: Facing this inaccuracy (and likely duplicity somewhere along the line), I decided to bring this error to the attention of the Australian news-reading world, even though I was not optimistic about the likelihood of success. As both a tactic and a pertinent strategy in the year marking the 100th Anniversary of the disastrous, yet meaningfully momentous, battles at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles in 1915, I highlighted the proportion of wounded Australian soldiers (19,441) to the number who were killed (8,709).[1] In military parlance this meant that WIA was 2.28 in relation to KIA. This has been a common feature in most recent wars. In this manner I was marking a gaping hole in the thinking and capacities of the bourgeois office-room personnel who composed the UNOeP document. This was a serious contention about a serious issue.

Deploying a contact within The Australian’s staff, on the 24th August I sent an essay of some 1091 words to Alister McMillan, its “World News Editor.” Guided by a friendly journalist in Perth and an Aussie pal in Queensland, I also composed a short 320 word “Letter to the Editor” and sent that to the appropriate slot in that newspaper’s base on the 26th August. I then coined another version of intermediate length, some 736 words in length, and sent it to the web-journal South Asian Masala because it is associated with academics[2] and I had succeeded in entering its portals way back in 2009 or so when Sandy Gordon was its editor.

I have rarely succeeded in breaching the portals of the Australian newspaper world so my endeavours were not oiled by expectations of success. Sure enough I have failed. Or, rather, one could say that The Australian did not pass my test. The Australian news media world is (A) not interested in correcting factual inaccuracies; (B) not interested in addressing specious reasoning and (C) and not interested in taking to task such sacred cows as Amnesty International. And, last but not least, issues relating to a little island such as Lanka are of limited consequence. So be it. An iniquitous world is it not?

*** ***

B. Short Note: WIA is to KIA

Amanda Hodge’s report on the Sri Lankan election covered important new developments, but she reiterates a commonplace error in political reportage when she asserts that the UN Panel of Experts claimed that there was “credible evidence” of up to 40,00 civilian deaths. In truth the UNPoE surmised that a number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths (para 137 on page 41). The tweaking of this conjecture is an act of duplicity furthered by many prominent organisations including Amnesty International and prestigious news media.

No accurate figure exists for the death toll in the period of 1 January to 19 May 2009 when the Tamil peoples of Thamililam had been persuaded or dragooned into becoming a defensive bulwark in the LTTE’s military strategy. No evaluation of this issue can be presented without attending to that basic fact and without heed to the maps depicting the shifting battle theatre and the contracting arena of war.

FIG 4 = 06_Jan_2009_defence.lk Fig 4. Situation Map, 6 January 2009

FIG 7 = Situ Map=Serge Fig 5. Situation Map, 2 February 2009

However, Australians attuned to the casualty figures in the restricted Gallipoli war theatre will be aware that the ratio for Australian wounded to dead was 2.23. We also know that during the Korean War the ratio for USA was over three: 103,284 WIA against 33,651 KIA. To their credit the UN personnel in Colombo, directed by Gordon Weiss, computed figures for the wounded in hospitals and detention centres. They “estimated a total figure of 7,721 killed and 18,479 injured from August 2008 up to 13 May 2009, after which it became too difficult to count.” [paragraph 134, UNPoE].

This undermines the UNPoE’s concluding estimate, that which misleads Hodge and others. The simple question is: “how many wounded were there among the survivors?” If 40,000 were killed in the final months of the Sri Lanka conflict, where were the 100,000 or so wounded?

                                      Michael Roberts, Dept of Anthropology, Adelaide University

 C. Medium-Size Essay entitled “Home-Truths from Gallipoli: Those in Office Attics cannot read Death Tolls Anywhere”

One hundred year after Gallipoli the carnage in that confined theatre of battle provides lessons for those addressing the last phase of the Sri Lankan War in 2009. At Gallipoli the number of wounded was greater than those killed: 8,709 Australians died and 19,441 were wounded (WIA). The ratio of WIA to KIA was 2.23 and for the Allied forces taken together the ratio was 2.18.

GP dead-www.gallipoli.gov.au Fig 6a. 

 burying dea gallipoliFig 6b. Carnage … Australians bury dead comrades at Gallipoli after a series of battles. (Pic from http://www.gallipoli.gov.au and www.news.com.au. See http://www.gallipoli.gov.au/ for an official summary.

The Last Post for Anzacs Fig 7. The Last Post honours the Australian deadhttps://thuppahis.com/2015/04/25/the-ode-and-the-last-post-remembering-the-anzacs/

In the last phase of the Sri Lankan war pitting the state against the de facto LTTE state during the period 1 January to 19 May 2009, the Tamil Tigers and their people were confined to the Vanni Pocket in the north-east. Some civilians slipped through the battle lines by foot or boat, while roughly 13,000 were evacuated by ships organized by the ICRC with SL Navy assistance between early February and 9th May. By early March the remaining body of Tamils was pressed into even less space; and by mid-April the remaining body of civilians and Tiger fighters, amounting to an estimated 200,000 individuals, was hemmed in within what can be termed the “Last Redoubt” of 24 square kilometres of coastline.

The Tamil people were so placed because the LTTE had persuaded and/or dragooned them into this corral as a defensive formation of so many (vulnerable) sandbags that would constitute a spectre of “humanitarian disaster” – a spectre which would, the LTTE hoped, induce a UN/Western intervention to save their bacon. As the Tiger political chief Pulidevan told European friends, “just as in Kosovo if enough civilians died in Sri Lanka the world would be forced to step in” (Frances Harrison, Counting the Dead, 2012: 63).

FIG 6=UNITED-NATIONS-SRI-LANKA-facebook+Fig. 8.  From a Tamil web siteAs the LTTE was forced into strategic retreat, mostly from west to east, their directorate encouraged the people in the Vanni to move into the remaining portions of Thāmilīlam. The LTTE’s central objective in this cynical exercise was to deploy the people as a prospective “humanitarian disaster” and to blackmail powerful forces beyond the borders to provide the LTTE with an escape hatch. For the most part this was readily acquiesced in by the majority because they perceived the SL state forces as a demonic enemy. But the increase in discomfort and the increased scale of LTTE conscription began to alienate some segments of the displaced population (see UTHR nos. 31, 32 & 34 & de-Silva-Ranasinghe 2010b). When precisely this disenchantment with the LTTE’s iron fist began is difficult to determine, though Muralidhar Reddy and a Tamil activist who was part of the trapped population till late April both suggest (personal communications to author) that it was by January 2009. However, even in April-May 2009 there was a hardcore of popular faith/support for the LTTE among those remaining (see Reddy 2009a and Roberts, Tamil Person, 2014: Figs. 101-03). How many of the roughly 135-146,000 people left at that point were still hard core faithful? Yet another tough question.

FIG 8 =Tent City-daru 27Fig. 9. From the UNPoE alas with not date.  A tent city of the type that developed in many locales in the Last Redoubt of some 42 sq. kilometres on the eastern shores of Nandhikadal Lagoon (NKL). The packed arena was described as “the worlds’ largest latime” by a Tamil friend who was among those who was corralled there and who escaped with his family by sea in April (?). The populace was assembled there early in the day (beginning from December 2008 onwards it seems) to forestall a possible amphibious assault from the Sri Lankan government forces.

FIG 9=Pokkanai_area_seaside_01--29 MARCH Fig. 10. From TamilNet, 29 March 2009The main road running north south in the Ampalavanpokkanai area in the north of the Last Redoubt. This area and its people (those who did not move further south) were liberated by the SL Army offensive on the 19-22 April 2009 [see the Map below from ICG].

The danger to “civilians” was all the greater because (1) many Tiger fighters did not wear fatigues; (2) able-bodied civilians were utilized for the building of berms and logistical operations and thus made into “belligerents” in war terminology; and (3) the SL Army’s infantry attacks were mostly at night. In a remarkable operation on the night of the 19/20th May, commando troops penetrated the Last Redoubt and some 103,000 Tamils, including Tiger personnel who had discarded their weapons, streamed out.

The Western media has simply failed – and one could say “refused” – to comprehend these circumstances. Their office room nourishment assists this process of miscomprehension. Political orientations ill-disposed towards the Rajapaksa government – for good reasons I might add – have encouraged this leaning. Amanda Hodge is a fine illustration. In commenting upon the recent parliamentary elections, she speaks of the Rajapaksa party’s failure to secure a majority as a blow to his hopes of meeting “war crimes charges relating to the last months of the war in which as many as 40,000 civilians were killed” (The Australian, 20 August 2015, p. 8).

This is an act of duplicity. The UN Panel of Experts Report dated 31 March 2011 actually said this: “a number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths” (para 137 on page 41). The fact that an imposing array of reporters has reiterated this allegation as definite fact does not render her ‘crime’ any less a ‘crime’.

But that is not my main argument. The emphasis here is on the lessons that Australians can draw from the ratio of wounded to dead at Gallipoli (and for that matter all wars). To any person asserting that “possibly 40,000 Tamil civilians died,” the simple question is: “how many wounded were there among the survivors assembled between, say, March and May/June 2009?”

As it happens, the UN personnel in Colombo had computed figures for the wounded in hospitals and detention centres. This computation is referred to in passing by the UNPoE: The United Nations Country Team is one source of information; in a document that was never released publicly, it estimated a total figure of 7,721 killed and 18,479 injured from August 2008 up to 13 May 2009, after which it became too difficult to count.” [para 134].

The implication of this assessment is (conveniently?) passed over in the UNPoE conclusion two paragraphs later, viz. paragraph 137 quoted above. Reporters such as Hodge, of course, have not read the whole document or evaluated the physical context of the war and its extraordinary facets. They have simply not transcended their cloistered office-room perspective. Even the home-truths from Gallipoli have not been brought into their readings.

FIG 11=WAR ZONE- late April ICGFig.11. A Map depicting the thrusts of the SL Army operation of 19-22 April compiled by the International Crisis Group — an excellent product that reveals where the Army commandoes split the Last Redoubt on the night of the 19/20th — enabling thousands of Tamil civilians to escape aided by the fact that many Tiger fighters discarded their weapons and joined them .. though at certain spots the Tigers shot and killed some civilians. See Serge de Silva-Ranasinghe, Downfall, 2010: 14 for pertinent details of the operation. There can be no doubt that some civilians were also killed by crossfire. But one does not have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that no person can ever work out the proportions killed in these different ways.

102 revd-IDPs across N-lagoon Fig.12.

Fig 3b -- april 2009 exodus Fig.13.

FIG 3=-out of NKL Fig.11.Fig.14.

 IDPs AT REAR-lKE HOUSE Fig. 15. Some 103,000 people fled the Last Redoubt between the 19th and 22nd April and graphic scenes were presented by TV crews behind the SL Army lines. “The Wretched of the Earth break Free of Bondage” was the title deployed by the veteran Tamil journalist DBS Jeyaraj, in Canada when he described the events then. What is as significant is that Jeyaraj in Toronto and De Silva-Ranasinghe in Perth had a more accurate grasp of the events at the war front than several Western media men located in Colombo – here pointing at Ravi Nessman and Gordon Weiss (UN media officer).

 D. Longest Version: “Lessons from Gallipoli for Readings of the Sri Lankan War”

In a recent review of the parliamentary election results in Sri Lanka Amanda Hodge alludes to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s failure to become Prime Minister as a blow to his hopes of meeting “war crimes charges relating to the last months of the war in which as many as 40,000 civilians were killed” (The Australian, 20 August 2015, p. 8).

The assertion at the end is more than a tweaking of the ‘facts. It is an act of dishonesty. The UN Panel of Experts Report dated 31 March 2011 went thus: “In the limited surveys that have been carried out in the aftermath of the conflict, the percentage of people reporting dead relatives is high. A number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths. Two years after the end of the war, there is still no reliable figure for civilian deaths, but multiple sources of information indicate that a range of up to 40,000 civilian deaths cannot be ruled out at this stage” (para 137 on page 41).

Hodge is not an innovator. A whole line of reporters in western media channels, including Kerry O’Brien, have perpetuated this untruth. One Lee Scott, a British MP no less, even went so far as to assert that “40,000 had been “slaughtered” – implicitly laying all deaths at the door of the government of Sri Lanka in contrast to the UNPoE’s indictment of both warring parties in this particular estimate.

Such dishonesties, the manipulation of the empirical groundings of any assessment, can be attributed to many forces. One influence is the armchair and office background of so many reporters and analysts (including the so-called lawyer experts constituting the UN Panel). Only a handful of journalists and academics have real-life experience of battle theatres and warfare. In the year commemorating the battles in Gallipoli, however, one would hope that these recollections would impose a reality check on the Australian media world. Alas, not so.

Most Aussies know that in the limited physical arena of Gallipoli in 1915 the casualties on all sides were heavy. In this context 8,709 Australians were killed (KIA) and 19,441 were wounded (WIA). Thus the ratio of WIA to KIA was 2.23. For the Allied forces taken together the ratio of WIA to KIA was 2.18.

Such ratios can vary in some measure in different warring scenarios, but the WIA is invariably higher than KIA and sometimes even over three (as in Korea for USA: 103,284 WIA against 33,651 KIA). The key point during the last phase of the Sri Lankan War IV extending from the months of January to May 2009 is the fact that the civilians were corralled in a battle theatre in the Vanni Pocket in the north eastern corner of the island. Figs. 4 & 5. By mid-April the mixed bag of civilians and fighters, some 200,000 in rough estimate, were boxed within a coastal strip of some 12 by 3 sq. kilometres (the “Last Redoubt” in my terminology). Fig. 11 & 19.

They were so placed because the LTTE had persuaded and/or dragooned them into this corral as a defensive formation of so many (vulnerable) sandbags that would constitute a spectre of “humanitarian disaster” – a spectre which would, the LTTE hoped, induce a UN/Western intervention to save their bacon. As the Tiger political chief Pulidevan told European friends, “just as in Kosovo if enough civilians died in Sri Lanka the world would be forced to step in” (Frances Harrison, Counting the Dead, 2012: 63).

Not all Tiger fighters were wearing fatigues, while the “civilians” were also used as labour in building berms and other military activity (and thus were “belligerents” in international war terminology). Civilians were also shot by the LTTE troops in significant numbers as they tried to escape from the alarming trap they were placed in (as the UNPoE noted at various points in its report: page 34, paras 112-14). These civilians usually crossed the battlefront lines at night, so that some were probably hit by crossfire. Likewise most of the SL infantry offensives were launched at night. The major offensive by commando units that penetrated the Last Redoubt was initiated on the night of 19th April. It was remarkably successful. Over the course of four days some 103-110,000 Tamil civilians and fighters who had discarded their weapons streamed out (see Figs. 12-15) and a guesstimate from one of the more thorough reviews conjectures that perhaps 1875 Tigers and civilians died during the period of intense infantry action from 20-31 April (IDAG, Numbers Game, 2013: para 4.4.4). note the proportionality in these estimates.

In its concluding paragraph 137 to its Section E (quoted above) the UNPoE report glosses over these caveats. Worse still, its authors display their office room background and its associated blindness. They do not relate the ball park possibility of 40,000 deaths to the test: how many “civilians” were wounded by the warring activities around them in the confined theatre of the Vanni Pocket and thereafter within the Last Redoubt?

As it happens, during the months of May-June 2009 – especially after the fighting ended on 19th May –the UN personnel in Colombo, directed by one Gordon Weiss, had computed figures for the wounded in hospitals and detention centres. This computation is referred to in passing by the UNPoE: The United Nations Country Team is one source of information; in a document that was never released publicly, it estimated a total figure of 7,721 killed and 18,479 injured from August 2008 up to 13 May 2009, after which it became too difficult to count.” [paragraph 134, UNPoE].

The UN “experts” then proceeded to miss the implications of this set of figures for their concluding paragraph 137. Such a gross error is one reason – among a whole list of shortcomings—for criticisms of this panel of office-room personnel for a slipshod report marred by serious shortcomings. But that is not my point here. How is that Australian journalists open to the realities of war through the Anzac story at Gallipoli do not ask pertinent questions about the death toll in the last phase of the Sri Lankan war? A. Is it due to the blindness of office room eyes? Or, B., is it a product of political orientations seeking to destroy the authoritarian pro-China Rajapaksa regime? Or, has a combination of these two factors directed such blindness as well as the manipulation of the UNPoE’s vocabulary? Mind-reading is called for. In my surmise, it is a result of both A and B working together.

H 113a -27_04_09_opd_13 Fig.16. Tamil medical personnel conducting an outpatients clinic in the southern section of the Last Redoubt (Pic from Tamilnet 27 April 2009)

H 113b -09_05_09__Mulli-vaaykkaal_10 Fig.17. Administrative work in the open air (pic from TamilNet, 9 May 2009). Together with Fig. 16 above and other images what one sees is the efficiency and capacity of the administrative machinery of Sri Lanka in its Tamil arms and, here, under LTTE direction. Even after being reduced to a small stub of terrain the governmental and caring functions of Thamililam remained operational under conditions of war — supporting the subsequent report of Dr. Shanmugarajah at http://thuppahis.com/2014/01/05/dr-veerakanthipillai-shanmugarajahs-affidavit-description-of-conditions-in-the-vanni-pocket-in-refutation-of-channel-four/

 K 125b -2009-05-15 20.11.20  Fig. 19a. The Final Assault in Schematic Maps (from the Daily Mirror, 15 May 2009). The SL Army moved towards its final operation and suppression of the LTTE’s military capacity circa 9th May 2009 by closing in on the Tiger forces from both the north and from the south at the point Vadduval. The advancing Army troops “confronted desperate LTTE suicide attacks, which also saw the use of Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs), namely trucks, buses, crew-cabs and even motorcycles. In one example from April 28-29, the LTTE carried out seven suicide attacks before dawn…. [Again, the] Sea Tigers operated extensively along the coastline and the Navy claimed that it destroyed 17 Sea Tiger boats and killed over 100 Sea Tigers in the last four weeks of the conflict.” Eventually, the 59th Division launched an amphibious assault from the south on the 14th May and established a bridgehead within the last remnant of Thamililam. These troops had to beat off several counter-attacks. They eventually linked up with the 59th Division on the 16th May. “On the night of May 17, the LTTE attempted to breakthrough Army lines in a desperate attack with over 400 fighters, which reportedly saw over 30 suicide attacks.” By the 18th May, however, this resistance had been mostly overcome (de Silva-Ranasinghe, “Downfall,” 2010).

K 125- The final squeeze map of Thamilīlam and its death throes, 15 May 2009Fig 19b.

K 126a -2011-06-26 22.10.38 Fig. 20. A SL Army propaganda photo from mid-May 2009 (www.defence.lk), which has, in fact, been deployed cleverly in subsequent propaganda work by LTTE or pro-Tamil activists to illustrate the  story of “severe bombardment” and “genocide.” What many gullible readers do not know is the circumstances surrounding (literally and figuratively) this type of picture. As the SL Army whittled away at the pockets of Tiger resistance amidst the tents, buildings bunkers and defences in the southern part of the Last Redoubt from the 9th May, the Tiger leaders in the Last Redoubt lost hope by the 14th/15th. They started to blow up their stock of guns, vehicles and munitions, while two key groups prepared for a break-out and another readied itself for a last-ditch diversionary defensive attack. The huge blasts and smoke from the destruction of LTTE munitions were (a) captured on Government film and (b)heard quite clearly by Muralidhar Reddy and Kanchan Prasad  as they waited at SL army headquarters to the rear on the 14th May. Thus in such images as Figure 20, or pictures of Tamil civilians walking out of an area blackened by smoke, the background was/is NOT the product of SLA shelling, but the result of Tiger destruction of its ordnance and munitions stock. A couple of years later a minor cyclone even revealed that the Tigers had even buried some of their artillery in the same arena (see Roberts, Tamil Person & State, 2014: Figs 127a and 127b).. Thus, students of the war should take a close look at the photograph displayed by Trevor Grant on page 95 of his book Sri Lanka’s sEcets: how the Rajapaksa Regime get away with Murder (2014) with its caption: “A safe zone in Mullivaikkal is reduced to a scene from Apocalypse Now.” My surmise is that this snap was taken circa 14th or 15th May 2009.


K 127c -- Tamil stram refugees-Island Fig. 21. Tamil civilians cross the makeshift bridge at Vadduval at the southern end of the Nandhikadal Lagoon (Pic from The Island, mid May 2009).

z_p08-Entrapped2 z_p08-Entrapped1Fig. 22a, b — Survivors who crossed the L agoon with wherewithal whatever (Pic from Sunday Observer, 17 May 2009 –among the several striking pictures  presented with an article by Dhaneshi Yatawara)

K 127d--yatawara 5- 17 mayFig.  23 Tamil civilians who survived rest on the western shores of the Nandhikadal Lagoon. Also see Vidura 2009 “The Great Escapes,” Sunday Leader, 17 May 2009.


              SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY servicing ALL Four Items

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De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2010b “Information Warfare and the Endgame of the Civil War,” Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, May 2010 30/4: 35-37. …. and http://www.asiapacificdefencereporter.com/ articles/40/Sri-Lanka.

Harshula 2011a “When allegations become evidence,” 6 June 2011, http://groundviews.org/2011/06/06/when-allegations-become-evidence/

Harrison, Frances 2012 Still Counting the Dead, London: Portobello.

Hodge, Amanda 2015 “Sri Lankan poll loser Rajapaksa may quit to dodge prosecution,” The Australian, 20 August 2015, http://m.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/sri-lankan-poll-loser-rajapaksa-may-quit-to-dodge-prosecution/story-e6frg6so-1227490467880

ICEP 2014 Island of Impunity? Investigation into International Crimes committed during the Final Stage ages of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Sydney: Public Interest Advocacy Centre Ltd, http://www.piac.asn.au/sites/default/files/publications/extras/island_of_impunity.pdf

IDAG [i.e. Citizen Silva] 2013 “The Numbers Game: Politics of Retributive Justice,” http://www.scribd.com/doc/132499266/The-Numbers-Game-Politics-of-Retributive-Justice OR http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/shrilanka/document/TheNG.pdf

Jeyaraj, DBS 2009 “Wretched of the Wanni Earth break Free of Bondage,” Daily Mirror, 25 April 2009.

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Marga 2011 An Analysis and Evaluation of The Report of the Advisory Panel to the UNSG nn the Final Stages of the War in Sri Lanka, https://www.dropbox.com/s/0eybj1ynej6spaa/The%20Darusman%20Report-%20Final%20doc-2.doc

Marga 2014 Issues of Truth and Accountability. The Last Stages of the War in Sri Lanka, https://www.dropbox.com/s/tdxwntf7wu5andq/The%20Last%20Stages%20of%20the%20war%20in%20Sri%20Lanka.pdf?n=66191473.

Minnick, Wendell 2015 “China’s One Belt One Road Policy,” 12 April 2015, http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2015/04/11/taiwan-china-one-belt-one-road-strategy/25353561/.

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Roberts, M. 2013 “BBC-Blind: Misreading the Tamil Tiger Strategy of International Blackmail, 2008-13,” https://thuppahis.com/2013/12/08/bbc-blind-misreading-the-tamil-tiger-strategy-of-international-blackmail-2008-13/#more-11221

Roberts, M. 2013 “Congestion in the “Vanni Pocket” January-May 2009: Appendix IV for “BBC Blind,” https://thuppahis.com/2013/12/09/congestion-in-the-vanni-pocket-january-may-2009- appendix-iv-for-bbc-blind/

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Generating Calamity, 2008-2014: An Overview of Tamil Nationalist Operations and Their Marvels,” 10 April 2014, http://groundviews.org/2014/04/10/generating-calamity-2008-2014-an-overview-of-tamil-nationalist-operations-and-their-marvels/

Narendran, Rajasingham 2014 Harsh Ground Realities in War: Decomposing Bodies and Missing Persons and Soldiers,” 28 January 2014, https://thuppahis.com/2014/01/28/11702/

Noble, Kath 2013 “Numbers Game reviewed by Kath Noble: The Full Monty,” 14 July 2013, https://thuppahis.com/2013/07/14/numbers-game-reviewed-by-kath-noble-the-full-monty/

UN PoE 2011 Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts report on Accountability in Sri Lanka, March 2011….http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/ POE_Report_Full.pdf.

Vidura 2009 “The Great Escapes,” Sunday Leader, 17 May 2009.

 Yatawara, Dhaneshi 2009 “Entrapped Civilians seek salvation in Force,” Sunday Observer, 17 May 2009, http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2009/05/17/fea05.asp


** The error is not confined to foreign media. Just today, 2 September 2015, Bharatha Mallawarachi of the Associated Press in Colombo reiterated the tale: “Both sides were accused of serious human rights violations amounting to war crimes, and an earlier U.N. report said some 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed in just the last few months of the fighting, largely as a result of the government’s shelling” — See http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/sri-lanka-leader-calls-reforms-promote-ethnic-harmony-33448895

[1] This point was first highlighted by one Mango (2014) who is British educated and works in UK (and must keep his identity secret for employment reasons).

[2] Its present editors are Barbara Nelson, Nishank Motwani and Jesse Buck. Visit http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/blogs/southasiamasala/about/.



Filed under accountability, atrocities, australian media, authoritarian regimes, disparagement, doctoring evidence, economic processes, gordon weiss, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, news fabrication, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, propaganda, Rajapaksa regime, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, tamil refugees, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, UN reports, vengeance, war crimes, war reportage, wikileaks, world events & processes

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