Shamindra Ferdinando,in The Island, 19 April 2017, where the title reads “AI’s longstanding ‘alliance’ with the LTTE”
Publicly declining to testify before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that has been tasked by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to inquire into war crimes allegations, London headquartered Amnesty International (AI) joined the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) to flay Sri Lanka.The LLRC commenced sittings in Aug 2010. In a joint statement issued on Oct 14, 2010, the three organizations called for a genuine, credible effort to pursue political reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. Declaring that the LLRC had failed to meet what they called minimum international standards for commissions of inquiry, they said: “There is little to be gained by appearing before such a fundamentally flawed commission.” “Accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka demands an independent international investigation.”
Editorial in The ISLAND, 17 January 2017, entitled “Obama’s Swansong”… with highlighting bing the Editor Thuppahi’s work.
President Barack Obama has, towards the latter part of his second term, shown a tendency to get increasingly maudlin. Tears welled up in his eyes the other day while making his farewell speech. Last year, he refused to speak at his daughter Malia’s graduation lest he should get too emotional. In 2015, he was seen wiping away tears during a fascinating performance by Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul.
Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, where the title is different
The manner in which President Mahinda Rajapaksa withstood and totally deflated the imperialistic moves by Miliband and Kouchner, respective Foreign Ministers for Britain and France, in late April 2009 has been the stuff of salacious gossip in pro-Rajapaksa and Sri Lankan patriot circles. Any re-telling of this tale in solid detail on the foundations of direct witness will cast me into the same mould in the minds of those beyond that circle — whether sanctimonious, liberal and/or snooty. No matter: historical recording must trump popular polling and moral posturing. Meeting Lalith Weeratunga enables me to present the story in vivid detail.
In this handout picture released by The Sri Lankan Presidential Office, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (L) looks on as his British counterpart David Miliband (C) shakes hands with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (R) as they arrive for a meeting at Ambilipitiya Photo credit should read HO/AFP/Getty Images
In a statement issued on Dec. 10 to commemorate the Human Rights Day, Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, proudly declared: “Sri Lanka’s commemorations will not only be symbolic – it will also be substantive. So, I am very pleased to announce that Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will today, this morning in New York, in fact, will be signing the International Convention on Enforced Disappearances.” In a hard hitting statement, Minister Samaraweera said that during the last decade or so, in Sri Lanka, human rights, were always spoken as an alien concept. The universal values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, were made out to be alien concepts or western values, as the previous government called it, and they used to say it’s western values and infringing on our country’s sovereignty. Although, the previous Rajapaksa administration cannot absolve itself of some of its actions, since the end of the war, in May, 2009, it took tangible measures to eradicate terrorism. Sri Lanka resorted to desperate measures. The world’s solitary superpower, and its allies, did the same at the expense of accountability in the wake of the al-Qaeda challenge.
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).
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.
Figs. 2 & 3 from TamilNet …Injured 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.”
Ambassador Blake in Never-Never-Land: Misreading LTTE Capacity in Early 2009
Michael Roberts ..…The initial version of this article was actually drafted in late 2014, but I let it lie because I wished to pursue my reading of the ambassadorial despatches further. It is now the first of two essays covering the US diplomatic operations in Sri Lanka in the first five months of 2009 – the second entitled “Off the Planet” being in line with the thrust of the title deployed here (and remaining as yet in draft form). Note that this essay was completed before I was aware of The Campbell Conversations of 28th January 2011 where Blake elaborated on the Sri Lankan situation. His position then has to be compared to the pressures exerted on the Sri Lankan government in 2009 with UN and EU support and the assessments of the fast-moving war scenario presented to his superiors over the course of 2008/09. Wikileaks have done all of us a favour in revealing these backroom diplomatic activities in the raw.
The Wikileaks disclosures have revealed to the world the American mind-set towards the heightened conflict in Sri Lanka in the last phase of Eelam War IV. Yet neither the functionaries in the service of the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) nor the intelligentsia commenting on that situation have drawn on this material. The stack of data is enormous: for instance, some 90 despatches in the period January to May 2009. Working alone amidst other tasks my studies of this material are incomplete; but are adequate for preliminary assessments.
I. Amanda Hodge: “Dirt files open on eve of Sri Lanka election,” in The Australian, 14 August 2015
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe yesterday predicted a “comfortable majority” for his United National Front in Monday’s crucial parliamentary elections. The confident call came as his once all-powerful rival Mahinda Rajapaksa faced allegations he paid millions of dollars to Tamil Tiger commanders to enforce a boycott of the 2005 polls.
Just seven months after Mr Rajapaksa’s shock defeat in January presidential elections by his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena, he is contesting the parliamentary polls with an eye on the prime ministership. With his legacy now marred by serious corruption allegations, the former president has been forced to campaign on his credentials as the leader who ended the three-decade long civil war. Continue reading →
No survey of Eelam War IV — especially its last phase from late 2008 to May 2009 — can be pursued without some comprehension of the unfolding geographical context and some attention to illustrative pictorial details of the LTTE ditch-and-bund system of defense as well as the defensive deployment of a congealed mass of people and Tiger personnel from circa mid-February to mid-May 2009 within what is best referred to as the “Last Redoubt.”Attention to pictorial evidence must obviously embrace evidence of shelling and casualties (both injured and dead) as well as prima facie instances suggestive of extra-judicial execution by both sides. These in their turn must sit alongside the graphic photographs of clusters of people streaming or struggling across the Nandikadal Lagoon or crossing sand and scrub terrain in April and May 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army infiltrated and penetrated the Tiger arena in the Last Redoubt…. and released them from their corralled situation.
Pic 1: The Fate of the Corralled Tamil Populace of Thamilīlam = on the move constantly — from mid 2008 in some instances —Pic from en.wikipedia.comContinue reading →
Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraphwhere the title is “Marie Colvin as a Mouthpiece of the LTTE” and where you will find all manner of comments. Also note the hyperlnks within this article HERE.in thuppahi.
Having come across Tammita-Delgoda’s 2009 article “Reading between the Lines” for the first time in 2014, I reproduced it in Thuppahi for several reasons. His essay reveals how significant figures in the Western media world participated actively in the highly effective propaganda war sustained by the LTTE networks abroad working in coordination with the Tiger directorate in the Vanni, armed as the Tigers were with modern satellite technology.
As Tammita-Delgoda’s news account indicates, Marie Colvin, an intrepid war correspondent who ultimately paid a price of death for her boldness when she was caught in crossfire in Syria in 2012, was one of those partial to the LTTE camp. Eight years earlier, in March-April 2001, she had used her Tamil connections to slip beyond the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GSL) frontlines into the territory of Thamilīlam, the de facto state of the LTTE, and was injured when returning. The details surrounding this incident are highly relevant to our examination of journalistic ethics and are addressed at length below. It is adequate for the moment to note Colvin’s well-known “empathy for the underdog” and her devotion to the plight of civilians in war-torn arenas (DBS Jeyaraj 2012) Continue reading →
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.