One-Eyed Zealousness: Extremist Australians For and Against the Tamil Cause in Lanka

Michael Roberts

The 60 year-old Tasmanian lady, Dianah Paramour’s campaign (Fig. 01) against specific activities of personnel in Australia, both Tamil Australian and Anglo-Australian, who have been vigorously advocating the claims of the Tamils and/ the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka is a story of zealousness. Zealotry in its many forms has been one of my major areas of study (see “Understanding Zealotry,” 2006).[1] That is why I have highlighted it by presenting details of a specific public confrontation arising from her intervention (Roberts, “Diannah,” 2015).

DP 2- Fig. 1-Paramour

Paramour’s intervention on the side of the Sri Lankan state (and implicitly its Sinhalese majority) via the deployment of a Sri Lankan flag at a pro-LTTE gathering can be deemed eccentric and maverick. The handful of Australians who have actively spoken out about events in Sri Lanka have generally been staunch supporters of the Sri Lankan Tamil minority. They have usually been of liberal, radical and/or Left persuasion. These few have also been well-credentialed members of the professions and included university academics, legal advocates and journalists – some of considerable eminence. John Dodd, Jake Lynch,[2] Geoffrey Robertson, Gordon Weiss, Sarah Hanson, Senator Lee Rhiannon, Antony Loewenstein,[3] Bruce Haigh,[4] Christine Milne, Damien Kingsbury, Trevor Grant and Tim Goodman are among those who have revealed zealousness in their advocacy of the plight of the Sri Lanka Tamils.

These pro-Tamil and human rights activists have pursued their interventions, as often as not, in one-eyed ways. So, too, does Diannah Paramour – as I will eventually demonstrate. Her eccentricity in zealousness is all the more interesting because she is a “woman-of the-people” so to speak, unlike those named above. That is, she seems to be a dinky-die Australian. Exploring her thinking and her interventions, in my perspective, is fruitful especially for this reason.

Paramour is retired now, but “worked as a legal officer for a Adelaide conglomerate.”[5] She has never been in Sri Lanka, but seems to have an interest in Buddhism and a belief that she was in Sri Lanka in previous births. As far as I can work out, Paramour’s first public protest did not arise from any stoking of ‘her fires’ by Sinhalese activists and she had no direct connections with Sinhalese organisations or agencies then in May 2015. From her own accounts two inspirational themes seem to have sparked her activism.

  1. She told Shenali Waduge (a staunch Sinhala advocate) subsequently that she “had been following Sri Lanka’s conflict for many years and unlike most had done her own investigations and concluded that much of the hype and propaganda were false” (Waduge’s words: 2015).
  2. When she discovered in early May this year that “a UN banned terrorist flag was flying somewhere here in Australia” (her words), at the Trades Union Building in Geelong as it was (Fig. 2), she contacted one of the officials in charge, namely, Tim Goodman, and discovered that there was to be a remembrance meeting at Springvale in Melbourne in support of the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamil people. Her hostility towards “a terrorist flag” can be linked intimately with her expressive attachment to the Australian flag, the raising of which she marked by placing hand on heart (as do Aussie rugger and soccer players at evocative moments heightened by the playing of the national anthem) at the Tamil activists’ ceremony in Springvale.

GEELONG Fig. 2: Tamil Tiger flag fans the wind in Geelong

These themes suggest that Diannah Paramour is an Australian patriot of the right-wing kind, maybe even a redneck. Indeed, her reasoning has vestiges of the thinking associated in the recent past with Pauline Hanson.[6] The ‘flavours’ embedded in her thinking are best illustrated in her own words in the clarification she provided to Waduge.

“As my country’s flag was raised I walked towards it with my right hand over my chest and head bowed. Then music started to play. I recalled the tune from a documentary I had seen. It was the LTTE music. I was dumbstruck. The Australian Flag alongside a Terrorist flag? That was unacceptable. I looked at the AUSTRALIAN flag and thought of my treasured great great uncle who gave his life so that my life would be free. I looked at the LTTE flag and thoughts of every baby, child who died because of this filthy evil flag came to mind. I thought of all the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers whose blood [was] shed because of this movement” (Waduge 2015).

Paramour claims that her interpretations of the LTTE are based on readings over the years and she has apparently seen some documentaries as well. But this where she matches Trevor Grant, Bruce Haigh and most of the others whom I have identified above as zealots in support of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause and its Tiger spearhead. Where the latter seem to absorb most of the propaganda claims and exaggerations of the Tamil extremists in a facile manner and adopt a one-eyed version of the complex story of the Sinhala-Tamil conflict (see below), Paramour seems oblivious to the atrocities and excesses of the Government forces and Sinhala extremists over the last 48 years;[7] and equally unaware of the deeper reasons for the political estrangement.

The fundamental causes of the conflict as it emerged in the 1940s and 1950s, and then ‘flowered’ into periodic clashes and eventually into more-or-less continuous war, cannot be spelt out in a few words. I would direct Paramour to a reading of (A) the more judicious studies of Sri Lankan history in modern times by such as scholars as CR de Silva[8] and Nira Wickramasinghe;[9] (B) a study of the literature on the anti-Tamil pogrom of July 1983;[10] and (C) my own clarification of the lineaments of Sinhalese nationalist thinking, including its chauvinist extremes.[11]

Perhaps the simplest method of identifying one of the fundamental problems in Sri Lanka’s political dispensation is to deploy British history as a pathfinder and guiding light. The English, and thus “England,” have been the foundational force in the history of the British Isles over the past six centuries — predominating over the Welsh, Scots and Irish in founding Great Britain as well as the British Empire of the 16th to 20th centuries. In the result, some English people, as often as not highly consequential personnel, tended to equate the WHOLE with the PART. The terms “Britain” and “England,” or “British” and English,” were used interchangeably. This was done without thought at times – thus insidiously and powerfully (see Roberts, “Vocabulary,” 2011).[12]

The history of the island of Sri Lanka and its migrant settlers over some 2000 years has bequeathed a similar pattern in modern times where many people among the Sinhalese majority unthinkingly equate the majoritarian Sinhalese part with the whole of Sri Lanka, where “Sri Lankan” is implicitly equated with “Sinhalese” (Roberts, 1978 and “Pillars,” 2009). In some instances this equation is explicit and thus a conscious political assertion from a chauvinist and extremist position. In either form it is deadly in its implications, a form of extremism.

Extremisms at opposite ends feed off each other as Sinnappah Arasaratnam indicated long ago (1967, 1979). The political manoeuvres of the 1940s-to-1970s crystallized in the 1980s into war between segments of the Tamil population and the rest of the island (inclusive of some Tamils) where the government was under Sinhala command. The Tamil political associations as well as fighting groups had as their goal an independent state identified as Thamilīlam — or “Eelam” in short. In this viewpoint their struggle was a liberation struggle and not a “terrorist” one. In this perspective the latter label is a propaganda tactic of their enemies, heightened by the worldwide distaste for “suicide bombers” and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in USA.

From a retrospective position, observers mark the Sri Lankan Tamil liberation struggle as one involving four periods of war: Eelam Wars I, II, II and IV. During the course of the struggle in the first phase during the 1980s the LTTE secured the monopoly of Tamil violence by ruthlessly eliminating or squeezing out the other Tamil fighting outfits and assassinating many moderate Tamil leaders.[13] From 1990 the Tigers were the spearhead of this Tamil independence movement and were in command of territory in Tamil-majority areas. So what one sees from mid-1990 is a series of wars between the insurgent state of Thamilīlam and that of the government of Sri Lanka centred on Colombo (GSL). Where the latter had the rudiments of a democratic government subject to periodic electoral changes, the former, Thamilīlam, was under a dictator, viz., Velupillai Pirapāharan (also spelt Prabhākaran). It was, in brief, a fascist state,[14] albeit a fascist state that commanded tremendous loyalty from a significant section of its people (just as Hitler and Mussolini did).[15]

Wallpapers13A=VP Fig. 3= Pirapāharan

The Pro-Tamil Australian Extremists

As indicated above, the Australian activists who have taken up the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils and leveled severe criticisms at GSL in the past decade or so have usually been of liberal radical political temperament (see fn. 2, 3 & 4 for illustrative data). They see themselves as advocates for human rights and supporters of the underdog. With the exception of Haigh and Weiss, none seem to have much experience of Sri Lanka, its landscape and demographic complexities. Moreover, in the context of the recent focus on alleged atrocities in the last phase of Eelam War IV in 2009 virtually all these activists are “office room personnel” lacking any first-hand experience of battle theatres and warfare. This experiential handicap has also bedeviled the forceful work of American State Department personnel as well as the reports of UN bureaucrats – including the Commission appointed by Navy Pillai and anointed with the label “Panel of Experts” in a grandiose act of hocus-pocus that seems to have succeeded in its purpose within powerful quarters.

A mark of the weight such activists bring to the propaganda war is provide by attending to Geoffrey Robertson who has occasionally appeared on ABC television with powerful sound bites in denunciation of the Sri Lankan government.[16] Born in Sydney (1946) Robertson is a Rhodes Scholar who now resides in London with dual citizenship rights and serves as “a human rights barrister, academic, author and broadcaster.”[17] He was interviewed by Geraldine Doogue of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on human rights abuses in Sri Lanka in May 2013[18] and has also weighed in recently with a “Foreword” to Trevor Grant’s book on Sri Lanka’s Secrets (2014). Significantly, Haigh, Weiss, Lynch, Loewenstein and Grant all have journalist backgrounds and/or connections, especially with the ABC.

Haigh, Weiss, Lynch and Loewenstein seem to interact with each other occasionally in the Sydney locality. This does not mean that they are part of a conspiracy. But it points to a process which could sustain a pathway of tales that may have congealed in one corner. One wonders too whether this process of a weighted picture of events in Sri Lanka was stoked at one point by Loewenstein’s liaison for a while[19] with Brami Jegan, a Tamil Australian activist in the Greens Party, whose engineering father was ensconced with the LTTE from 2007 to 2009 when the Tigers were at war.[20] Having escaped from the IDP detention centres and returned to Australia Jegan Waran sought to prosecute the President of Sri Lanka in a local court on human rights abuses in October 2011 immediately before the CHOGM gathering at Perth.[21]

jegan-waran Jegan Waran & daughter Brami BRAHMI JEGAN-the Oz

Whatever the force of such networking in reinforcing specific political leanings, in the years 2008/09 the liberal-radical activists in Australia as well as the ABC and SBS would have been inundated with the LTTE propaganda marshaled from the Tiger HQ in the Vanni during the last ten months of the war. Using satellite phones and modern technology (note Fig.  5b). The Tigers deployed loyal Christian priests,[22] medical doctors, INGO and NGO functionaries within the battle theatre to disseminate tales of heavy casualties and hospitals under bombardment – tales that mixed concoction and gross exaggeration with part-truths and plausible details. The capacity of the LTTE communication network (as well as DBS Jeyaraj’s links from his seat in Toronto) is indicated in the remarkable detail presented in Jeyaraj’s description of the LTTE debacle at Aananthapuram, a two square kilomtere area abutting Nandhikadal Lagoon on its west, when Tiger regiments gathering for a counter-attack were encircled and subject to withering assault between 30th March and 6th April. Some 625 Tigers are said to have died during this battle. More or less immediately, Jeyaraj told the world that “the bad news is spreading slowly yet surely” and that “LTTE stalwarts are contacting close relatives of the Tiger leaders who died at Aananthapuram and informing them of what had happened [and] to conduct religious rites and funeral ceremonies on a low-key level.”[23]  

TRO medcis aiding injured

Fig 5b= LTTE communications centre–from TamilNet

As these incendiary stories of huge casualties were retailed in a whole range of Western media networks in Europe, the Americas and the Antipodes, they gained oxygen from the agitation of Tamil migrants, whether street demonstrations or tales conveyed to local friends and media outlets. Not all these Tamil migrants were Tiger supporters. But, quite naturally, they were concerned Tamils – Tamils who had been alienated by the discrimination faced in the 1960s to 1980s and the impact of mini-pogroms (1958, 1977) and a major pogrom in July 1983. One has only to absorb the CNN’s coverage of this phenomenon in Britain in early 2009 to comprehend the depth of feeling (CNN 2009). Searching the web for “Tamil demonstrations in 2009” will lead to the discovery of numerous images which in their turn lead to news items describing these gatherings and depicting their vehemence (Figs. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). The demonstrations in London over the course of April 2009 brought enormous numbers of Tamils (mostly) onto the streets and demanded a huge police presence. One has to absorb some of the You Tube documentation of these assemblies to comprehend the power of the diaspora on this issue. BBC reported on the 20th April that 3500 people had gathered in Parliament Square (BBC 2009).

tamil agitation Fig 6+ Scene in Toronto

19tamil-demo-in-london-socialsit-worker-11 td

TD 7-10=Scenes in London, April 2009

These currents of fervour have not abated today. They drive the vengeance politics of Tamil associations all over the world, including the collective in Melbourne that organized the commemoration of their talaivar Pirapāharan’s death and the LTTE’s defeat on 18th May 2015.

kopay_cemtary_reconstr_2 Fig. 12–  The Tuyilam illam (resting place) at Kopayn halcyon days [before SLA bulldozing]

M-NAL -dbs Fig. 13-Entrance to Portals of a Tuyilam Illam in Thamililam

ltte_cemeteryFig.14–kinfolk pay homage to a maaveerar

Such acts of homage are replications of the commitments that used to be — and still are — evoked at Māveerar Nal ceremonies on 27th November every year (Fig. 12-14), a mass ritual initiated by the LTTE in 1989 and sustained for decades as a wide-ranging call to arms (Roberts, “Saivite Symbolism,” 2005; Jeyaraj 2012). In the post-2009 context such expatriate gatherings are a means of sustaining the commitment to the Sri Lanka Tamil project of Eelam with the cry of genocide as its cutting edge of revenge aimed at the heart of Sri Lankan society. That the power of revenge should wear the vestments of “human rights” and draw gullible Australians into its fold is one of the ironic paradoxes of the modern era.

TAMILDEMOM Canberra april 2009 Fig. 15=Protest in Canberra

In 2009 there were several emotional outpourings in the major Australian cities that matched those in UK, Canada and Europe. “More than 3,000 members of Australia’s Tamil community” made up of contingents from the major cities assembled in front of strategic sites in Canberra in mid-April (Fig. 15) to request the Australia government to demand an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka.[24] This gathering encompassed a rolling hunger strike by six young Tamils, including university students Sutha Thanabalasingham and Mathivannan Sinnathurai (both aged 27), which began at Parramatta Hall in Sydney on the 11th April, moved to Kiribilli House and then on to the Lodge in Canberra.[25]

As it happened, a remarkable SL Army commando operation on the 19th20, extending over 2-3 days to 22nd April,[26] penetrated the LTTE’s “Last Redoubt” (my conceptualization) and seized control of the northern two-thirds of this corral (Fig. 16). Some 103,000 Tamil civilians and fighters streamed out to safety over the next four days with maybe 1850 fighters and civilians dying in the anvil of battle – a remarkable result in proportionate terms in the specific conditions of war prevailing in those stretches of the Last Redoubt.[27] Even for those Tamils and non-Tamils who believed that the LTTE would never be defeated, it was now, by 21st April 2009, evident that the LTTE was on its last legs.

22=WAR ZONE- late April ICGFig. 16 = Graphic map illustrating the SL Army penetration of Last Redoubt–courtesy of ICG

These events saw migrant Tamil operations move to fever pitch and beyond. Demonstrators in Sydney assembled outside the Australian PM’s residence Kiribilli House in late April. Leading them was Dr. Sam Pari who told the media: “It’s not your usual bunch of uni students or union workers. It’s a community that is grieving. A community that feels betrayed by the international community and by the Australian Rudd government” (SMH 2009).

Whether in street gathering, drawing room or office, the persuasive force of true believers is considerable.[28] Such emotions provided a “truth-effect” to the tales conveyed to those non-partisan Brits, Aussies, Canadians, et cetera who took care to listen – even where the stories were false or exaggerated. In brief, what one sees in the West from January to May 2009 is the impact of several tempests of agitation retailing a picture of Tamil suffering at the hands of the Sri Lankan military – a picture that conveniently neglected the CONTEXT: viz. the constellation of three elements: NAMELY,

  • that the Tamil people had been corralled in the shrinking war zone by the LTTE’s decision to use them as a defensive formation as well as a raison d’etre for international interventions restraining the SL armed forces advances: as the LTTE political functionary Pulidevan told European friends “just as in Kosovo if enough civilians died in Sri Lanka the world would be forced to step in;”[29]
  • that a number of Tiger fighters did not wear uniforms; and
  • that some of the ensuing deaths were due to deliberate shooting of Tamils seeking freedom by Tiger personnel (see below & also fn. 26 above).

These tales were even effective in Colombo where “the Western agencies swallowed the LTTE-inspired stories hook, line and sinker because they were exciting from a news point of view” — as a long-resident Indian reporter PK Balachandran tells us (2015). Among those who fell into this field of gullibility was the UN media man in Colombo, Gordon Weiss, who went on air in early May 2006 speaking of “a bloodbath.”[30] Weiss’s broadcast was through Associated Press, headed in Colombo by the Jewish American Ravi Nessman,[31] whose reports on the war from Sri Lanka were marked by simple-mindedness and the regurgitation of claims presented by TamilNet, the LTTE’s principal web-medium.[32]

The UN agencies in Sri Lanka sought to quantify civilian deaths in those warring months. An in-house UN document in April said that “according to verified data during the previous three months some 6,432 Tamils may have died while 13,946 were wounded.”[33] Subsequently, after the fighting ended, the United Nations Country Team compiled 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, in Report of UNPoE, 2011). As Media Officer for the UN, Weiss must have been a player in the work behind both these computations.

8-sri-lanka-weiss in s-leader Gordon Weiss

Weiss was unhappy with the turn of events in Sri Lanka and resigned from the UN to mount a campaign directed mostly against the GSL role in the unfolding events, though also castigating the LTTE. This campaign has been pressed by book, ABC interview and high profile stage-event. His book appeared in 2011. Like my own writings, The Cage is a desk review, but nevertheless contains a great deal of useful information, data which can be utilised on a case by case basis set in context. However Weiss’s subsequent grandstanding and his statistics on civilian deaths place him firmly within the overzealous arena.

With one side of his mouth he has indicated that it is impossible to give a reliable count of the deaths, but with the other he has essayed estimates. His calculation in The Cage had a wide range: 10,000 to 40,000 civilian deaths. Significantly, on the 15h February 2010 the UN Country Team in Colombo, the very unit Weiss had worked for, distanced the organization from the type of statistical proclamations peddled by Weiss: “[w]hile we maintained internal estimates of casualties, circumstances did not permit us to independently verify them on the ground, and therefore we do not have verifiable figures of how many casualties there were.”[34] But the flier for a public launch of The Cage at Melbourne in June 2011 proclaimed a bald figure: 40,000 civilian deaths. When quietly questioned by Chanaka Bandarage at the launch, he indicated that it “could be 10,000” and said the brochure was the work of the organisers, viz. Deakin University.[35] But at other moments Weiss has leaned towards the top-end of his original guesstimate: “a final death toll of 40,000 could not be ruled out” (Neighbour 2011).

As his book was about to appear, Weiss had the clout to insert his views in The Australian with a striking headline: “Sri Lanka faces its Srebrenica Moment” (Weiss 2011). His first line delivered the second punch: “the name “Srebrenica” is synonymous both with war crimes and the long reach of international justice.” Ironically, another reporter Robert Mackey had already extended this shorthand-metaphor to the Sri Lankan situation in 2009, albeit with a question mark proviso, to indicate “an enclave full of civilians who deserve[d] protection” (Mackey 2009). Responding to blog-comments, Mackey immediately admitted that he had not realised that Srebrenica would be read as a watchword for a massacre.

Thus, in review, this evidence suggests that the Gordon-Weiss-of-today has erased some of the details in his own book from his thinking and has, so to speak, “fallen among thieves,” namely, the superlatives of the media world and the emotional fever-cum-blindness of secular fundamentalism (Roberts, “Righteousness,” 2011). Weiss’s ideological blinkers seem to have induced him to bypass or erase two major factors that bore on his conclusions. Firstly, as argued above, he ignored the significance of the outstanding contextual foundation for the plight of the Tamil civilians: their value to the LTTE as a defensive formation, an inducement to the international community to heap pressure on the government of Sri Lanka to halt their military action and a bargaining ploy to encourage some international rescue hatch for their high command.[36]

Secondly, Weiss glossed over the tenuous grounds for the death toll of 40,000 that he kept leaning towards. Though he himself had participated in the UN exercise in Colombo which gathered statistics on the number of injured Tamil IDPs in the various hospitals in the island in May-June 2009 referred to above, Weiss has proceeded to ignore the implications of the figure computed then, namely, 18,479 injured, for the guesswork that one has to use in computing the probable number of civilians who died through war-injury (resulting from both GSL and LTTE actions). The point is simple: WIA usually amount to double or more of those KIA in any war theatre. At Gallipoli 8,709 Australians were killed (KIA) and 19,441 were wounded (WIA). So the ratio of Australian wounded to dead was 2.23. This was not unique: for instance, in the Korean War USA 33,651 KIA as distinct from 103,284 WIA (Roberts, “Drama,” 2015). If Weiss believes that 40,000 civilians died in the last five months of the war, then he has to point to at least 75,000-to-85,000 injured Tamils in May-June 2009.[37]

In short, the death-toll figures for civilians provided by the UN Panel of Experts as well as Tamil and pro-Tamil protagonists in the battle theatre are simply stupendous. They feed into the continued repetition of the charge “genocide” in the Tamil diaspora’s agitation.

There is a corollary to this propaganda tactic: ardent Tamil spokespersons do not try and meet the arguments and statistical pictures presented by other agencies — serious studies by competent persons — which challenge these huge claims. The latter are silenced by sidelining and silence.

Such a tactic from ardent Tamil nationalists and/or Tiger supporters is not surprising. Vengeance politics and nationalist project are not about factual truth. When, however, Australian liberals and radicals indulge in selective surveys of the data and secondary sources on the last phase of Eelam War IV, their honesty of purpose and breadth of study comes into question. Weiss was part of a team assembled by Public Interest Advocacy Centre Ltd in Sydney which went on to produce Island of Impunity? as part of an “International Crimes Evidence Project” in February 2014. This report was one of the foundations behind Senator Christine Milne’s lashing of the Sri Lankan Government in 2014 (Milne 2014). Running to 235 pages the ICEP/PIAC study has no bibliography, but has 2071 citations. A survey of these citations indicates that it has (studiously?) ignored several detailed studies on the war: the reviews by the Marga team in Colombo (2011) by Citizen Silva in England and the collectivity who have adopted the nomenclature Engage Sri Lanka (2013) for instance.

It would seem that Gordon Weiss has been increasingly enmeshed not only in the Sri Lanka Human Rights Project at the University of Sydney led by Jake Lynch, but also in the Tamil nationalist network in Australia, The Australian Tamil Congress wrote to the organizers of a conference in Canberra in September 2010 entitled “Safeguarding Australia Summit” and successfully pressed them to invite Weiss as speaker so as to counterbalance Serge De Silva-Ranasinghe[38] – who was at precisely this moment, quite significantly, the victim of a sarcastic swipe by Lynch in the “Crikey,” a radical website devoted to “independent journalism” (2010).

In sum, therefore, there are glaring partialities in the interventions of the zealous Australian activists encompassed in this survey. While some of them do refer to the LTTE atrocities, the impression conveyed is clear: the main culprit in their eyes is the government of Sri Lanka and the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime in particular.

GRANT  Grant

Trevor Grant  takes his partiality further. Having worked as a sports and features writer in journalism for over 40 years, mostly with The Age and News Ltd in Melbourne, he now sees himself as “an advocate for refugees through the Tamil Refugee Council and Friends of Refugees.” In recent years he has been at the forefront of protests at major cricket venues where the Sri Lankan cricket team was playing (Figs. 17, 18) and has vigorously advocated a replication of Australia’s boycott policy against apartheid in South Africa by initiating a boycott of Sri Lanka cricket. “What we are asking for is Cricket Australia and the Australian government to halt future matches and tours against Sri Lanka until the Rajapaksa regime agrees to an independent investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and stops the persecution of Tamils which is sending refugees to Australia,” he told Michael Gleeson in 2012.[39] His vocal argument included a jibe at Julia Gillard because she had stooped so low as to greet the President of Sri Lanka with a smile on her face (Grant 2012).

war crimes are not cricket -- Z Parkes Figs. 17 & 18 Tamils vs genocide

He has moved to more intense levels in 2014/15. He hit the stage in late 2014 with an illustrated work entitled Sri Lanka’s Secrets. How the Rajapaksa Regime Gets Away with Murder. One theme is detailed attention to the alleged interrogation methods and torture-chambers during the period of Rajapaksa rule. Another relates to the alleged excesses of war. An illustrative set of quotations from the review of the book in a Tamil web-site conveys the tenor of the book:

  • “The stench of the master-race philosophy permeates the language of the government” (p. 10).
  • “As a Tamil tortured, now a refugee in Australia said, a leaky [refugee] boat is preferable to a torture chamber” (p. 35).
  • “The UN deserted these people [the Tamils in the war zone] in every possible way” (p. 91).
  • “On May 18, 2009, … thousands of bodies were strewn across the killing field” (p.109)
  • “After the Kfir jets, cluster and bunker-busting bombs and its white phosphorous, the Sri Lankan military’s most important weapon was its propaganda unit and its capacity to bombard the world with shameless lies” (p. 110).
  • “A special acid that would dissolve bones quickly was imported from China” (p. 111).

bruce-haigh = www.safecom. Bruce Haigh
Predictably, the book has received a glowing review from no less a ‘authority’ than Bruce Haigh: “[the book] also provides an insight into life in the north of the island state for Tamils now forced to live under the heel of the boots of the military and police.” Haigh adds: “the Tamils of Sri Lanka continue to undergo a process of genocide, a fact frequently noted by Grant” (2014). As significantly, Haigh notes that “Geoffrey Robertson [in the “Foreword”] endorses Trevor Grant’s scathing criticism of successive Australian governments for formulating foreign policy toward Sri Lanka on turning back boats rather than on the human rights of Tamils.”

The specific refugee slant in these crusading thrusts of the liberal/radical activists was demonstrated once again in May 2015 when Trevor Grant derisively slashed another journalist, Greg Sheridan of The Australian, for accepting an expenses-paid trip to Sri Lanka during the Rajapaksa era and producing “puff pieces” and inaccurate stories (Grant, “Australian Media,” (2015).

In their high-pitched insistence that the Tamils had been subject to “genocide” during the last phase of the war Grant and others indulge in a form of extremism that is typical of zealots: namely, a total blindness to context., viz., both the context encompassing the battle theatre (clarified again below) and the broader context of an elected government (however authoritarian, yet an elected government) waging a full-scale war against an insurgent state under the control of Pirapāharan (Fig. 5) – a state that has been widely described as “fascist” by such individuals with grounded experience as Rajan Hoole, Nirmala Rajasingam and Benjamin Bavinck (fn. 14 above).

By mid-2008, moreover, the warring context had turned badly for the LTTE. Still well-stocked and typically innovative and vigorous in battle, they were nevertheless outgunned and outmanned. With defeat a definite prospect, they cajoled and forced their civilian population to retreat eastwards and northwards ahead of their forces. Their grand strategy was ‘simple.” They deployed savvy propaganda techniques to raise the spectre of an “impending humanitarian disaster” before the eyes of humanitarian agencies and individual crusaders throughout the world. Indeed, the term “genocide’ was in the air as early as then: late 2008.

By early 2009 if not earlier it was clear to the western world that the LTTE was deploying their civilian people as “human shields” – a phrase used widely in US and UN memoranda at that time (ABC 2009). In fact that phrase is only three-quarter precise. It does not fully encompass the strategic purpose of the human shields. As indicated by Jeyaraj,[40] the LTTE began moving people to the coastal strip in the north-eastern corner of Sri Lanka as early as December 2008. By the end of February 2009 the accumulation was nearly complete — with probably around 310,000 people massed in a narrow strip of some 12 by 2 or 2.5 sq. kilometres.[41] The masses of people in makeshift accommodation and tents (Figs. 19, 20) were, metaphorically, so many sandbags in a defensive formation that would deter the GSL forces from launching an amphibious operation that would box the Tigers in and prevent any prospect of an international rescue.[42] Thus, the hope of international intervention because of a prospective “humanitarian catastrophe” was the bottom line in the LTTE’s use of the people as human shields in their corral.[43]

91--Tent City-daru 27Fig 19 -Tent city in one locality –UNPoE

92a--Pokkanai_area_seaside_01--29 MARCHFig. 20-the main road in the Last Redoubt in late March –TamiNet

In late 2008 and early 2009 some major agencies, several Western journalists and other interested parties in Sri Lanka swallowed this picture of impending calamity wholesale (Balachandran 2015). Weiss was among them; while his book and subsequent reflections are guided by remorse at the UN’s failure, seen also as his failure, to save the people.[44] USA and several bureaucratic agencies of the UN were also concerned about the impending prospects. Their requests to the LTTE to release the people were spurned however. As the British and EU Foreign Ministers complained in mid-April 2009, “the LTTE have been forcefully preventing civilians from leaving and we deplore their determination to use civilians as shield” (ABC 2009).[45]

It is because the LTTE fashioned a hopeless corral in the heart of battle for their own people that there were a considerable number of deaths and injuries among the populace. Because many Tiger fighters did not wear uniforms and because civilians were used as labour in building berms and moving supplies, it is also impossible to make a clear distinction between deaths of “belligerents” and deaths of civilians.[46] Again, few in the West may be aware that the LTTE themselves killed their own people as some civilians decided to abandon their hopeless ‘space’. On several occasions between February and April 2009 they shot and killed people trying to escape at night – as testimonies collected by, Muralidhar Reddy, Rajasingham Narendran and the sources tapped by the UTHR investigators indicate. Indeed, in a horrid and remarkable cluster of tales relating to the final stage of the battles in mid-May when the SL Army infantry was inching its way southwards in order to secure the remaining stub of the “Last Redoubt,” it is said that on the 14th May “the LTTE killed 500 civilians near a palmyrah palm nursery near Nanthikadal Lagoon as they tried to cross to the other side.”[47] Indeed, the UTHR investigators assert that it was the LTTE that was to a large extent responsible for civilian deaths between the 14th and 17th May nights” – even estimating over 1000 killings on one night (a numerical speculation that we must view with caution).[48]

In the circumstances prevailing within the Vanni Pocket, the space to which Thamililam had been reduced by early January 2009 and subsequently in the   “Last Redoubt of the LTTE,” viz., the 24 square kilometre coastal stretch on the eastern banks of Nandhikadal Lagoon to which their sway was limited after mid-April, any computation of the death toll is a tenuous task and only approximate figures can be essayed. To thereafter stipulate how many were due to GSL weaponry and what numbers were the result of Tiger weaponry is quite impossible.

Such complexity is not even on the horizon for some of the Australian human rights zealots. Some deploy the figure presented by the UN Panel of Experts with a twist of words (chicanery in other words) which has altered the phrase “credible allegations” into “credible evidence” of 40,000 civilian deaths.[49] Grant’s bombast goes further: he refers to “UN reports detailing the premeditated slaughter of up to 70,000 Tamil civilians in 2009 in the closing days of the country’s civil war” (2015). Apparently, if you peddle lies, it is best to lie big and to do so in definitive voice.

He must think that his audience is imbecile. Medical men, soldiers and those versed in the history of Gallipoli know that in battlefield scenarios the ratio of wounded to dead is always higher (see the illustrative statistics referred to earlier in this essay). So, Grant’s fantastic claim of 70,000 dead would have meant that there were 140,000 or so wounded Tamils in the government hospitals and those of the MSF and Indian Field Service set up at Pulmoddai! The fantasy picture that Grant the zealot has built for himself is quite Alice in Deadlyland!

And, then, there are the little lies, the several pictorial dissimulations in his book Secrets. I will deploy just one illustration. Facing page 37 is an image of a Red Cross worker with a child in boat on the shoreline about to head for an ICRC ship visible on the horizon, with a caption saying “Red Cross workers evacuate an injured family risking naval attack (emphasis my addition)”. So the snide suggestion here is that the horrible GSL forces deliberately attacked medical evacuation operations.

96-02_04_09_supplies_02 Fig. 21–Supplies deposited by ICRC ship–TamilNet, 7 May 2009

94-Mulli-vaaykkaal_22 Fig. 22–Sick & Injured being evacuatedTamilNet, 9 May 2009 … for fuller details, see Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014: 140-42

Grant is addressing a remarkable sidelight on the war. Throughout Eelam War IV the Government of Sri Lanka used international agencies to supply Thamilīlam food and other essentials supplies.[50] Once land convoys became impracticable by February 2009, this GSL-international combination used the ICRC as a spearhead to send such supplies by sea to the beleaguered population in the Vanni Pocket (Figs. 21, 22). These chartered ICRC vessels were screened and supervised by the SL Navy. They also served as medevac ships and evacuated the injured and sick. At least 31 voyages took place between early February and 9th May 2009. A total of 13,794 people were evacuated and an incomplete breakdown for 23 of these voyages reveals that there were 1,789 injured/sick males, 1,537 injured/sick females and 3471 children, with the rest being “accompanying caregivers” or “bystanders” (Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014b: 139, 140). To believe that the SL Navy or other arms of the GSL machinery would interfere with such activities is mind-boggling. Indeed, other pictures of like events on the foreshore, taken by me from TamilNet, juxtaposed beside the propaganda images presented by the Defence Ministry (Figs. 23 & 24) showing naval personnel assisting Tamil civilians ashore on the beaches of Pulmoddai[51] supplement this demolition of a specific allegation from Trevor Grant.

95b-8th batch sSLN --4 mARCH 2009 95c--SL Navy succour 01 - 4thMarch 2009Figs. 23 & 24 -Medevac evacuees or maybe escapees received ashore at Pulmoddai

So we see have before us, now, a prima facie instance of Grant’s duplicity. When moral crusaders for human rights indulge in such chicanery we witness the extremism of zealotry.

We must be careful not to place all the Australian activists in the same dungeon as Grant on this count. However, many tend towards a one-eyed blindness and extremism. In May this year Tim Goodman told Diannah Paramour that “there were concentration camps in Sri Lanka, women were being raped, there were white vans kidnapping people, torture prevailed, sexual abuse of even corpses. Innocent children were being bombed, executions and disappearances taking place and that Mahinda Rajapaksa was a dictator” (Waduge 2015).

But Paramour herself must question her sources of information on the opposite pro-Sinhala side of the fence (here including Shenali Waduge) and investigate whether her reading of the Sri Lankan scenario since independence in 1948 is not as one-eyed as these overzealous Aussie blokes.

***  ***


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Ilankai Sangam 2014 “Sri Lanka’s Secrets,”

Jeyaraj, D. B. S. 2009a “Anatomy of the LTTE Military Debacle at Aananthapuram,” Sunday Leader, 8 April 2012 —

Jeyaraj, D. B. S. 2009b “Fraudulent concept of a “fire-free, no-fire, safe zone,” 18 April 2009,

Jeyaraj, D. B. S. 2009c “Wretched of the Earth break Free of Bondage,” Daily Mirror, 25 April 2009,  

Jeyaraj, D. B. S. 2011 “KP’ Speaks Out. An Interview with Former Tiger Chief, Vavuniya: NERDO.

Loewenstein, Antony 2009 ‘”Tamils block Sydney Street in Protest,” 8April 2009,

Lynch, Jake 2010 “What Australia can learn from Sri Lanka about ‘security’,” 22 September 2010,

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Mackey, Robert 2009 “Is the World ignoring Sri Lanka’s Srebrenica?” 17 April 2009,

Maley, Paul 2011 “Colombo hits back at President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s accuser,” 27 October 2011,

Mango 2011 “Sri Lanka’s War In Its Last Phase: Where WIA Figures Defeat The Gross KIA Estimates,” 14 February 2014,

Milne, Christine 2014 “Senator Milne speaks on Human Rights Abuses in Sri Lanka,” 12 February 2014,

Neighbour, Margaret 2011 “Book Festival Interview: Gordon Weiss on Sri Lanka’s Civil War,” 25 August 2011,

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Noble, Kath 2013 “Numbers Game reviewed by Kath Noble: The Full Monty,” 14 July 2013,

Reddy, Muralidhar 2009 “Escape from Hellhole,” The Hindu, 25 April 2009,

Roberts, Michael 1978 “Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka and Sinhalese Perspectives: Barriers to Accommodation,” Modern Asian Studies 12: 353-76.

Roberts, Michael 2000 “The Burden of History: Obstacles to Power Sharing in Sri Lanka,” Contributions to Indian Sociology, n. s., May 2001, 35: 65-96.

Roberts, Michael 2000 ‘Sinhala-ness and Sinhala Nationalism’, in G. Gunatilleke et al (eds.): Towards Ethnic Reconciliation in Sri Lanka, in progress.[now Marga Monograph Series, No 20].

Roberts, Michael 2003 “The Agony and Ecstasy of a Pogrom: Southern Lanka, July 1983,” Nēthra, 6, 199-213.

Roberts, Michael 2005 “Saivite Symbolism, Sacrifice and Tamil Tiger Rites,” Social Analysis 49: 67-93.

Roberts, Michael 2006a “Pragmatic Action & Enchanted Worlds: A Black Tiger Rite Of Commemoration,” Social Analysis 50: 73-102.

Roberts, Michael 2007 “Suicide Missions as Witnessing: Expansions, Contrasts,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, vol. 30 (10): October 2007, pp. 857-88.

Roberts, Michael 2010 “Some Pillars for the Future,” Frontline, 19th June 2009, 26: 24-28.

Roberts, Michael 2010 “Simpletons at the World’s Peak: Sri Lankan Situation Stumps the World,” in Roberts, Fire and Storm, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 289-302.… originally in Frontline under a different title in May 2009.

Roberts, Michael 2011 “The Vocabulary of “Nation” in English in the Early Modern Period, 10 July 2011,

Roberts, Michael 2011 “People of Righteousness march on Sri Lanka,” The Island, 22 June 2011 and

Roberts, Michael 2011 “Amnesty International reveals its Flawed Tunnel-Vision in Sri Lanka in 2009,” 10 Aug. 2011,

Roberts, Michael 2011 “Sheridan challenges Jegan’s Attempt to universalize Rights and McClelland trumps it,” 26 October 2011,

Roberts, Michael 2011 “Incorrigible Watchdogs of the Human Rights World,” 24 October 2011,

Roberts, Michael 2012 “Inspirations: Hero Figures and Hitler in Young Pirapaharan’s Thinking,” Colombo Telegraph, 12 February 2012, http://thuppahi. velupillai-pirapaharan-veera-maranam/… rep. in TPS: Essays, 2014: 69-89.

Roberts, Michael 2013 ““Towards Citizenship in Thāmilīlam: The Tamil People of the North, 1983-2010,” South Asia Research 33: 57-75.

Roberts, Michael 2013 ‘Lone Cell Assaults: From Boston to Westmead-in-Sydney to the Unabomber. Inspirations and Enabling Conditions in Comparative Perspective.” 19 April 2013,

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Generating Calamity, 2008-2014: An Overview of Tamil Nationalist Operations and Their Marvels,” 10 April 2014,

Roberts, Michael 2014Truth Journalism? Marie Colvin hoist on her own Petard,” 5 November 2014,

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2015 “Targeting Sri Lanka by playing ball with Tamil Extremism,” 24 July 2015,

Roberts, Michael 2015 “Ambassador Blake in Never-Never-Land: Misreading LTTE Capacity in Early 2009,” 26 August 2015,

Roberts, Michael 2015 “American Action and Inaction in Sri Lanka,2008/09: A Critical Evaluation,” 15 September 2015,

Roberts, Michael 2015 “A Drama in Four Acts: A Drama in Four Acts: Dishonest Reportage by Amnesty International and Aussie Journalists remains Unmasked,” 2 September 2015,

Roberts, Michael 2015 “Diannah Paramour arouses an Australian Tamil Tiger Nest, Mid-2015,” 18 September 2015,

SMH 2009 “Tamils protest outside Kiribilli House,” 27 April 2009,

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Tammita-Delgoda, S. 2014 Reading Between the Lines in April 2009: Tammita-Delgoda takes apart Marie Colvin’s Jaundiced Propaganda Article in British Newspaper,” 26 September 2014, [orig. pubn 2009]

United Nations Panel of Experts 2011 Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts report on Accountability in Sri Lanka, March 2011, . POE_Report_Full.pdf.

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UTHR 2009 Let Them Speak: Truth about Sri Lanka’s Victims of War. Special Report No. 34,

Waduge, Shenali 2015 “The Truth and Lies of Gordon Weiss,” 12 September 2015,

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WSWS 2009 “Tamils demonstrate in Canberra against Sri Lankan military assault,” 18 April 2009,

***   ***


[1] My researches have embraced the Tiger maaveerar concept inn its most extreme form of suicide attacks to the commitment of the Japanese kamikaze and the Islamic jihadists. These pursuits have been embraced by the concept of “sacrificial devotion” which I coined for a workshop at Adelaide and carried over into the web site http://sacrificialdevotionnetwork. Also see Roberts, “Saivite Symbolism,” 2005; “Pragmatic Action,” 2006 and “Suicide Missions as Witnessing,” 2006.

[2] After graduating from Cardiff University in the late 1980s Lynch has worked as a media man in UK (BBC and World TV). His own bio-sketch indicates that “in the past 15 years [he has been] researching, developing, teaching and training in peace journalism – and practising it, as an experienced international reporter in television and newspapers.” He is presently an associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney; an Executive Member of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Secretary General, International Peace Research Association ( profiles/ jake.lynch.php). he was recently accused of anti-Semitism during a push-and-shove at a public meeting in Sydney, but the University authorities cleared him of this accusation ( Lynch (see 2010) had a swipe at Serge De Silva-Ranasinghe when he addressed a highbrow Australian security audience on counter insurgency in Sri Lanka in Canberra in 2010.

[3] Loewenstein describes himself as “a freelance journalist, author, atheist JewishAustralian political activist and blogger.’ Among several works he has authored My Israel Question (2006) and is a founder member of Independent Australian Jewish Voices – an organisation that is critical of Israel and the pro-Zionist lobbies worldwide and has therefore drawn the ire of Zionist outfits – for e.g.

[4] Haigh (b. 1945) presents himself today as “an idealist” and “political commentator.” He served in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia from 1972 and seems to have ended his stint there as Deputy High Commissioner in Sri Lanka in 1994 before becoming a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal in Canberra. He clearly values the fact that he “spent years in some of the world’s hotspots where he saw and did some extraordinary things’’ among these interests was interacting with South African dissidents such as Steve Biko. He indicates fthat he “provides regular political analysis on international and domestic issues for radio and television, conferences and seminars” [and] writes opinion pieces for a number of newspapers and journals [and that he] stood as an Independent candidate for the federal seat of Gwydir in 2001 and 2004.” Another note says that he i“is a patron of the Sri Lankan Human Rights Project, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney.

[5] Email note dated 28 September, which indicated that she wished to keep her present commitments private.

[6] For those unfamiliar with the Australian political scene I present the Wikipedia’s opening lines on Hanson: she “is an Australian politician and the leader of One Nation, a far right political party with a populist, conservative, and anti-multiculturalism platform.”

[7] She should begin by reading Rajan Hoole’s Arrogance of Power (2001) and his Palmyrah Fallen (2015) because they also contain details of specific killings where LTTE personnel were the perpetrators. Additionally, a visit to the extensive store of reports in the UTHR web site at be fruitful.

[8] CR De Silva’s Sri Lanka. A History (1987: 235-46, 251, 253 is a good introduction for neophytes because it is written for an American undergraduate audience.

[9] Wickramasinghe 2006: 252-54 & 279-301.

[10] Goonetileke, H. A. I. 1984 and Roberts 2003.

[11] See Roberts 1978 in particular, but then see Roberts, “Sinhala-ness,” 2000 and “Burden,” 2000.

[12] Roberts, 2011 — this article is based on research involving raw material and secondary sources on English history, augmented by chats with Linda Colley.

[13] The South Asia Terrorism Portal lists 46 “Prominent Political Leaders” as assassinated by the LTTE: see leaders_assassinated_byLTTE.htm.

[14] Note the explicit characterization of the LTTE as “fascist” by Nirmala Rajasingam in 2009 (Anon, “Dark Victory,” Economist 2009), and by Ben Bavinck much earlier when he was residing in the Jaffna Peninsula and maintaining a diary in Dutch (Bavinck 2014: 72, 99-100, 188, 205=06, 211, 241-42, 244). Also note the titles of sub-sections within Rajan Hoole’s Arrogance of Power: “The Surrender of the Intellectuals and the Cancer of Fascism” (403-04) and “Half-Truths and the Battle of Sinhalese Racism vs Tamil Fascism” (470-73).

[15] See Roberts, “Citizens,” 2013 and “Inspirations,” 2012.

[16] My personal witness. I did not keep records I am afraid.


[18] See “Geoffrey Robertson on human Rights abuses in Sri Lanka,” 4 May 2013,–human-rights-abuses/4667530

[19] Grapevine gossip which I picked up and which, as it happens, was inadvertently confirmed by a Sydney journalist who seems to have been part of the Lowenstein circle. Brami Jegan (aged 30 then) is described as an “ex-banker” in 2010 when she was a candidate for the Green Party in 2010. She seems to have had journalist experience with SBS (Warne-Smith 2010).

[20] One does not need to be fanciful to guess what his services were. Be that as it may, Jegan Waran is an enterprising man who was entrusted with the care of Pirapaharan’s aged parents when the remaining batch of some 80,000 Tamil civilians streamed out of their corralled situation in May 2009. He then slipped out of the detention centres at Manik Farm in mid-2009 and returned to Australia, where he subsequently presented a court case seeking to arrest President Rajapaksa during the CHOGM conference. His brother, Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar, known as AC Shanthan, was a founding member of the British Tamil Association and was jailed for two years in 2009 for aiding the Liberation Tigers (Warne-Smith 2010).

[21] Maley 2011 and Roberts, ‘Sheridan,” 2011.

[22] See report from Fr. Vasanthaseelan of Caritas in TamilNet, 23 April 2009. Also note this item: “A priest who departed the “safe zone” a couple of weeks ago, and who is in daily contact with his colleagues still there, briefed us on current conditions inside the LTTE-held area” (US Ambassador’ [Blake’s] Despatch No. 432 of 17th April 2009).

[23] Jeyaraj,”Aanaathapuram,” 2009 (a subsequent revised version expanding on the original article published in April 2009). Also note that Jeyaraj wrote an obituary ode to Theepan, one of the LTTE commanders who died that April.

[24] See WSWS 2009, Tamil Guardian 2009 and

[25] See WSWS “Tamils demonstrate in Canberra against Sri Lankan military assault,” 18 April 2009, Readers are left to conclude that none of the hunger strikers pursued their agenda to a māveerar conclusion, though one or two were taken to hospital to be treated for dehydration.

[26] The attack certainly involved shellfire: see description garnered y the UTHR investigation in 2009, “A Marred Victory,” Section 3. Note that their sources, namely, trapped people who survived and escaped said “that the second line of soldiers advancing directed the civilians out of the zone an helped them cross …. Deaths in their sector … were mainly due to people peeping out from cover while the fighting was one and getting shot or from LTTE fie as civilians escaped towards army lines” (Ibid: 3.1).

[27] Citizen Silva 2011: 48-49 83 and Noble 2011. When my wife and I arrived in Colombo in mid-April for a family event I told Kumari Jayawardena that I expected a bloodbath to occur. From an amateur’s reading I consider the SL Army operation on those four days the equivalent of the Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu – as miraculous as unexpected as welcome.

[28] On occasion the gatherings of people stimulated young men to vent their violence on “guilty parties” such as the Chinese Embassy in London. In Sydney Amalathepan Srikantharajah (25) and friends went further by invading a home in Westmead and launching an acid attack on two Sinhalese men residing there on the weekend night of 16/17th May 2009 – clearly an effort involving aforethought (Roberts, “Lone Cell,” 2013).

[29] Harrison 2012: 63. Harrison adds: “It was callous brinkmanship played with innocent lives.” No date is attributed to this comment but I presume it was early in 2009 if not in late 2008. Also see Roberts, “Generating Calamity,” 2014 & “Targeting,” 2015.

[30] US Embassy Despatch No. 514 of 11th May 2009: “The Government has taken offense at Weiss’ use of the term “bloodbath” in an AP interview describing the situation of civilians in the conflict zone.”

[31] Nessman is probably of Jewish American lineage, while the Australian Weiss is of Polish Jewish lineage. It is likely that these lineage affinities as well as common media activities brought the two together in the social environment of Colombo. Note too that a secret UN computation of death tolls carried out earlier in April 2009 was leaked to the Associated Press. Leaked by whom? Why to the AP?

[32] While this occurred throughout the last phase of the war, the classic instances are circa 10-15th May when virtually every newspaper in the West repeated the stories retailed in TamilNet and/or conveyed to them by informants trapped in the remaining stub of LTTE territory (by then mostly diehard Tiger supporters). Ravi Nessman in Colombo and Marie Colvin in London were among those who presented these claims as truths and voiced concern. See Nessman 2009, Tammita-Delgoda 2014 and Roberts “Truth Journalism?” 2014.

[33] Engage Sri Lanka 2013: 133, 145 and Evening Standard, (London) 24 April 2009 and Reuters circa same date..

[34] Quoted in Engage Sri Lanka 2013: 135.

[35] Jeremy Liyanage was at this event in June 2011 and conveyed the details of the Bandarage-Weiss exchange (skype chat), though he did not know the former’s name. The pertinent details are in Waduge, “The Truth,” 2015.

[36] On the 31st December 2008, as the LTTE was abandoning Kilinochchi, Pirapāharan phoned his former international chief, KP Pathmanathan, and restored him to the role of International head. One of KP’s tasks was ”to spearhead the task of bringing about a ceasefire and getting the LTTE a respite” (KP’s words in Jeyaraj 2011: 24-25). Later, as the situation got more desperate for the LTTE, KP attempted to pursue “the offer by the Americans to transport the [civilian population by sea to Trincomalee,” but Pirapāharan dismissed the thought (Jeyaraj 2011: 30).

[37] See Mango 2011 and Roberts, “Drama,” 2015.

[38] Any analyst of the war will find that from his desk in Perth de Silva-Ranasinghe provided a description of events as they unfolded in the first five months of 2009 (see 2009a, b and c) that were superior to those from most journalist in Colombo and were perhaps only matched by the information provided by the redoubtable journalist David Jeyaraj located in Toronto.

[39] Also see Grant 2012.

[40] “Originally the LTTE had “moved” about 25,000 – 30,000 people,” (says Jeyaraj, “Fraudulent,” 2009b), but when GS declared the coastal area a “no fire zone” in February the population at that location swelled.

[41] I estimate (today, revising my previous guesswork) that there were roughly 330-345,000 people (including Tiger fighters) in the Vanni Pocket in mid-January 2009. GSL figures indicate that 3,484 people escaped in January and 31,694 in February data from a source in the Ministry of Defence when I was researching figures on the IDPs for my ICES seminar on that topic). So, that suggests a rough figure of 310,000 at the end of February.

[42] As Sivaram indicated long ago, Pirapāharan was a strategic thinker and a master of “scenario planning.” Thus, it is my surmise that the talaivar Pirapāharan anticipated a potential amphibious operation from the Sri Lankan forces and the massing of loads of civilians on the littoral was his defensive barrier. Indirect evidence is conveyed in this statement from KP: “Prabhakaran was optimistic that the LTTE would be able to hold on to a piece of territory with access to the coast for a long time” (Jeyaraj, KP, 2011: 23-24).

[43] See Roberts, “Calamity,” 2014 and “Targeting,”2015. Note that from late 2008 the Indian reporters in Colombo “thought Tamilnadu and West will intervene to get the SL army’s grip loosened” (PK Balachandran 2015).

[44] See especially his thoughts in Neighbour 2011. Remarkably Weiss remains oblivious to the fact that some 295,000 people including about 12,000 Tiger personnel remained alive and were “saved” by the operations of the GSL forces. He would have seen the graphic TV presentations of the people who moved out on government channels.

[45] Earlier Sir John Holmes had lamented to the New York Times on 26th March 2009: “the civilians trapped … they are not being allowed to leave by the LTTE” (Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014: 215). Note that the UN and the Western powers do not seem to have exerted much pressure on the LTTE or its well-known branches abroad to abandon its policy on this count. In contrast the diplomatic pressures brought to bear on the GSL were enormous — the Wikileaks disclosures being one body of evidence (see Roberts, “American Action,” 2015).

[46] “[In] giving casualty figures the distinction been civilians, conscripts and cadres has not been clearly made” (UTHR, ‘Marred Victory,” 2009, see espec. Section 3.5).

[47] UTHR, “Let Them Speak,” Special Report No. 34, 2009: 0000 and Engage Sri Lanka 2013: 135.

[48] UTHR, “A Marred Victory,”2009: Section 1.2 and Engage Sri Lanka 2013: 132, 133, 135. Also see Weiss 2011: 141-42 where he nevertheless concludes that “it was the SLA that wrought the bulk of deaths upon the captive population.”

[49] See Harshula 2011 and Roberts,” Drama,” 2015.

[50] Though this humanitarian face was stressed, in fact the raison d’etre was political: GSL was proclaiming its sovereignty and refusing the claim of “Eelam.”

[51] Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014: Fig. 96a, b & c and Fig. 98a & b. “Pulmoddai” is a beach locality north of Trincomalee. The Indian Medical Field Hospital was located nearby, but note that some IDP patients were sent to hospitals in Padaviya, Vavuniya and elsewhere.


Filed under accountability, asylum-seekers, atrocities, Australian culture, australian media, discrimination, doctoring evidence, gordon weiss, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, language policies, Left politics, life stories, LTTE, martyrdom, military strategy, nationalism, news fabrication, political demonstrations, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, propaganda, Rajapaksa regime, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, war reportage, world events & processes, zealotry

17 responses to “One-Eyed Zealousness: Extremist Australians For and Against the Tamil Cause in Lanka

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  2. Excellent article, you indeed must have a wonderful research Library.
    I’m a redneck?
    That’s another ‘interesting’ name I shall add to my list of people’s descriptions of me.
    Regardless of what people believe in their hearts to be the way forward, I see the only productive way being the fundamental basics of any reconciliation.
    For Forgiveness to prevail…..with long lasting unification…..
    It MUST quite categorically, unequivocally….be preceded by the Truth.
    Love has no borders and commitment has no restrictions.
    Not even the continual flow of death threats and insults will stop me from helping Sri Lanka and her people, ALL her people.
    For 30 years Sri Lanka cried for international assistance, what happened?
    Absolutely nothing.
    Now when others are attempting to help Sri Lanka to sit comfortably amongst its global brothers and sisters, the filth of terrorist worshipers spread their disease of Eelam through the streets of other countries.
    The worlds citizens now have a much clearer insight and understanding about the idealogogies of the terrorist mindset, it’s nothing about quests for land, cultural beliefs, emancipation from Governments or religious affiliations.
    It’s 100% about power and domination, pure and simple, nothing less.
    The terrorists mantra is clear….
    It’s their rule or no rule.
    Children are this earth’s single most treasured gift.
    They need to be loved, cared for and worshiped with protection.
    Any Government that allowed its countries murdererning terrorists to continue to kidnap innocent children, force them to swap school books for AK47’s and blow themselves up, without trying to find a solution would be derelict in its duty towards humanity.
    Some things in life we instinctivly know are true and correct, a personal Library or University Diplomas do not always reflect the humans knowledge, only their education.
    The truth however is an elusive Mistress, masked by the lust for power and greed.
    My Grandchildren will be born in Sri Lanka, far from my arms.
    I want them and every other child born and waiting their turn to be reborn, to live in Paradise Island without the fear of war and terrorists, but that’s not going to happen while lies rule.
    War crimes, atrocities and torture in Sri Lanka?
    Defiantly, it took 30 years of this for good people to slide from the path of human respect for others dignity, the LTTE, it’s living cadres and all its disgusting blood worshipers should surrender themselves and admit their atrocious war crimes.
    Forgiveness can overcome anything, forgiveness is probably one of the humans greatest and most powerful of traits.
    If the Tamils who are living in Australia are gentle and loving, as many of my Tamil friends are…then you are welcome in my home, eat with us and marry my children, the origins of your bloodline or skin colour are totally irelervent to me.
    Remember that Australia’s indigenous people live in condemned buildings, in isolated harsh communities who lack even the basics of clean water and adequate healthcare.
    Aboriginal teenagers are being raised without connection to their vital Dreamtime traditions, they sniff petrol to try to relieve their pain.
    The colonists inflict decimation wherever they go, disenfranchising the traditional owners, steal their children and totally conquer a civilisation that was co existing with nature for thousands of years.
    Sri Lankan Tamils…please google:
    ‘Utopia’ by John Pillgar and ‘Samson and Delilah’ to see from whom your comfortable life is stealing from.
    Can Australia take more asylum seekers? Defiantly, we have enough room, compassion and wealth to care for you, but recognise that Australia’s Indigenous people are this countries traditional owners and they should be cared for first.
    Quite like Sri Lanka where the terrorists tried to genocide the Sinhala Buddhists.
    But don’t come to Australia and use tax payer funded Town Halls to raise your filthy blood soaked flag of death and spread your hate of the Sinhala Buddhists here, accept our friendship and allow your children to benefit from a good life full of opportunities and graced with no bombs around their waists.
    Remember your fallen?
    Absolutely, but in your Temples or in places where children are not forced to eat the word genocide.
    The LTTE’s quest for power has taken enough blood, the entire country should be on their hands and knees giving thanks and praise to Mahinda Rajapaksas, yet the mill of lies prevails to always divert true democracy.
    My gift to the children and citizens of Sri Lanka is my heart and soul.
    Trample it as you may, you’ll not deter me.
    After my assault, I received a request from a ‘Australian Tamil Congress’ representative who invited me to witness their evidence of war crimes.
    When I accepted, he viciously insulted me and called me bad names.
    What did that tell me?
    That it is time to do more to re establish the dignity of the Sinhala Buddhists, I witnessed first hand the violence they are facing.
    How to achieve that peacefully?
    To announce the formation of:
    Diannah Paramour
    ‘Sea spray Cottage’
    Huon Highway

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  15. Thanks. LTTE is the terrorist arm of India made up of Indian colonists. The whole thing was managed by the Indian Union supported by Persons of Indian Origin (POI), Non Resident Indians (NRI) and Anglos who were partners in Building the Indian-British Empire now the Indian Empire. Most of the Anglo Zealots in Oz who backed the Indian terrorists received all sorts of benefits including financial, sexual and other from India, POIs and NRIs. There were politicos like Colin Hollis who flew LTTE balloons. Fairfax, 3CR, Socialists media and SBS were in Tandem with the ABC. There were also academics like Eliezer, Bilimoria POIs from Malaya and Fiji. Then Uniting Church and other protectant Churches. I can only think of one lonely Catholic priest, one who was kicked out by Marcos. There were some people and media who supported government like former history professor, and lecturer in Indian Studies @ Melb Uni. RSL president and media Herald Sun.

  16. Daya.Wickramatunga.

    Many thanks for your article on One-eyed Zealousness. An unbiased article.
    The 1983 riots in Colombo, which affected my family as well, is a black mark which the government of Sri Lanka will find difficult to erase. At the same time, if one were to go to the Internet and read the article- A. Amirthalingam-Wikipedia, particularly the last paragraph on his “Assasination”, he/she would realize that had Amirthalingam lived and was able to convince the LTTE to go for a negotiated settlement with the Government of Sri Lanka, all our problems would have been sorted out amicably. Amirthalingam would have been able to convince JRJ to offer the due rights of the Tamil Community. The article under “Assasination” confirms the LTTE was not prepared for a negotiatted solution and instead poreferred a continued battle that has resulted in many deaths.
    Today we are referring to Reconciliation. In other words return to friendly relations after a conflict. It is not too late for the government of Sri Lanka to go for a negotiated solution. As I have always said, what we lack in Sri Lanka is equal rights and privileges to all its communities. This was behind the success story of Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew.

  17. There are lots of things in the world the winner tales it all. Take Singapore, if you ask a Chinese or an Indian they will say it was Chinese majority rebelling against Indian minority privileges they enjoyed under the British. The Chinese “racism”?. Hidramanis, then had the leading Emporium in Singapore and Main Street in Colombo.
    I was in the thick of 1983 riots in Colombo. I had to come to Colombo to make overseas telephone calls and I saw how traders lit their shops from inside and took photos. The timing of riots coincided with the World Council of Church leaders gathering held in Canada. I met two priests who attended the gathering one Australian and one Philippine. The Philippine priest said he could not believe why all brown skinned priests were involved with what was happening in Ceylon. Guess how and why so many Indian colonists from Ceylon ended up n Canada as refugees. In cold dry countries if you yell he is killing me; not many will pay attention, but if you shout fire, fire you will be saved. That is why photos of burning shops. There are lots of Indian colonist Protestant priests in all Indian colonies, former British-Indian colonies. By the way JRJ with Premadasa went to see his burning shops in Pettah. I was told by a beggar.
    Amirthalingam went around the world promoting and justifying Indian colonists claim for a separate State and by the way JRJ is a quarter Indian. JRJ and his UNP in 1977 was financed by India and Indian colonists. By then the Sinhalese wealthy who were the backbone of the UNP were reduced to nothing; nationalization and land reform during Banda Trio.
    When it comes to European imperialism and colonialism cry is for freedom and decolonization but when it comes to Indian it is reconciliation.

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