12 December, 2019

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Dishonest Reportage By AI & Aussie Journalists Remains Unmasked: A Drama In Two Acts

By Michael Roberts

Dr. Michael Roberts

Dr. Michael Roberts

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 has 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).

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 yet in June 2011).

Vanni Pocket- 6 Jan 2009Be 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), 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 UNPoE 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 in all three efforts (the second intermediate length essay is included below as an example). Or, rather, one could say that The Australian did not pass my test. They are (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- 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.

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).

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.

*Michael Roberts, Dept of Anthropology, Adelaide University

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY servicing ALL Four pieces

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2009b “The Battle for the Vanni Pocket,” Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, March 2009, Vol. 35/2, pp. 17-19. … and http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/aulimp/citations/gsa/ 2009157395/156554.html

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 becomes 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.

Mango 2014 “Sri Lanka’s War In Its Last Phase: Where WIA Figures Defeat The Gross KIA Estimates,” 14 February 2014, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lankas-war-in-its-last-phase-where-wia-figures-defeat-the-gross-kia-estimates/

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/.

Roberts, M. 2013 “BBC-Blind: Misreading the Tamil Tiger Strategy of International Blackmail, 2008-13,” https://thuppahi.wordpress.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://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/congestion-in-the-vanni-pocket-january-may-2009- appendix-iv-for-bbc-blind/

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

Noble, Kath 2013b “Numbers Game reviewed by Kath Noble: The Full Monty,” 14 July 2013, https://thuppahi.wordpress.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.


 

[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/.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    8

    Well said and far overdue. THANK YOU MICHAEL

    • 13
      4

      Yes, but our credibility is somewhat diminished when our Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse declares to the international media that there wasn’t a single civilian casualty.

      • 1
        3

        The blessed Michael has no need to foam at the mouth over ‘an estimated 40,000’ which is after all an estimate in the absence of a credible independent enquiry to establish the facts. Of course, we must suspend doubt, as we have had to over the years, and accept the numbers and ‘facts’ presented to us by the various governments of Sri Lanka at the times: 1958, 1971, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1987-88. Is it too early yet to add 2009 to this list?

        The least the present government can do would be to delineate a rectangle, 12km inland from the sea and through Puthukkudiyiruppu, and, say through Mulliyawalai, and declare those 300sq km a National Grave site. Those who died in that rectangle of destiny, whatever their beliefs, dreams and causes, were our fellow citizens. Their bones now inextricably enrich the land we love.

        An independent enquiry, a national grave site; these recede every day we delay. Even the much-touted ‘yahapalanay’ government of today, has, I suspect, little stomach for going the whole hog. Understandable, given that many who now present themselves garbed in flowing lilywhite cloaks of sweet innocence, just happened to have been important players at the time this all took place, and even accepted the reflected limelight off the all-conquering God of the South.

        In the end, I suppose it would be our cross, to suffer the regular spats between fact-starved journalists and time-rich academics.

        What to do? as they say in old Muttur.

    • 5
      4

      Ethics have flown out of the window when Amnesty International is said to have accepted a ‘santhosham’ of C$ 50,000 on one recent occasion from the Canadian LTTE proxies, some of whom have since been jailed in the US.

    • 3
      3

      Here is a charlatan accusing others to be untruthful. On what basis is he making these accusation or arriving at a concusion is only known to god. The real number of casualties may not be known but certainly it is not zero as claimed by the government soon after the war and not claimed later as 7,000 due to international exposure.

      The goverment did not allow any foreigner to be inside the area during the final assault under flimsy reason that their safety cannot be guaranteed. The real reason is to cover up the crime. Even after the war was declared over, no one was allowed inside in order to clean up the area and destroy all evidence of crime.

      In a war, the casualites can be walking wounded, moderate or severe. If you take the people who crossed over to the IDP camps, they were either un wounded or only walking wounded and a few moderately wounded who were carried by their relatives. What happened to the others who were moderately wounded and severely wounded.

      It is reliably informed that all the severely wounded and those of moderate category who suffered burns due to chemical weapons and blast injuries due to cluster bombs were killed in order to cover up the use of unauthorised weapons. In many instances the whole family was wiped out making it impossible to count the exact figure.

      There had been several methods of disposal of bodies. Sulphuric acid was imported from a far eastern country to dissolve bodies to wipe out DNA evidence. Some bodies were incinerated and some were dumped into sea. All these needed time and hence no one was allowed in. Even now no one is being allowed including the chief minister.

      It is unfair to blame the UN panel as they were not allowed to visit the country to see for themselves and speak to affected people. Those who say the figure is less, must tell us where are those dead bodies, at least to give the remains to the relatives to give the dead a decent funeral. To deny this right is an unpardonable crime.

      Government must agree for the panel to visit the area, exhume dead bodies to determine injuries, take soil samples for chemicals used and explore the neighbouring sea bed for dumped bodies. Also they must provide details of ships that called during the last 03 years in order to find out the shipment of unauthorised weapons to Srilanka.

      Will the government allow all these is far fetched. In other countries where war crimes were investigated the panel was granted free access to get at the truth. Also if there is resistance from secutiry forces they must be removed from the conflict zone and the area brought under UN forces in order for a free and fair inquiry into war crimes.

  • 7
    4

    The first line states without ever visiting the island should more properly be written as although prevented from visiting the island. Gallipoli figures can be used only if one assumes the same rules for war conduct were in operation. Under the Rajapakse administration for example the number of suspects killed in shoot-outs in the early hours of the morning while they were taken by the police to show the location of their arms were exceedingly high and cannot be explained by relating to similar occurrences elsewhere. Similarly Gallipoli ratios are irrelevant. Roberts may have his own figures, the UN theirs, and no one can be sure but what one knows is that the Rajapakses made sure, like the police taking suspects at night, that there were no independent witnesses present.

    • 6
      6

      Even after six years now no one has come up with the list of name of those
      40 000 who were supposedly killed. Those who quote these numbers are not really interested in the truth or facts they just want a jaw dropping figure.

      What Gotabhaya should have said was there were no civilians killed ‘intentionally’. He may have meant that but missed out the word. Of course in any war there are unintentional casualties.

      • 0
        2

        Sorry NAK

        The guy who was making the list was nearly half way there, at 19507, and had written ‘Balaganga….’ when he was hit by, ‘no doubt misdirected’, shrapnel, fell into the lagoon, and now sleeps with the fish, uncounted and unloved, and unrecognised, his life’s work blown away in a pestilential wind of sarcasm.

        Get real friend!

  • 11
    9

    ” without ever visiting the island”.
    Whom are you trying to fool Mr Roberts. The team was not allowed to enter the Island. What could they have done in the circumstances?.

    • 8
      2

      Use your head man.The UN has a huge office and a huge staff in Sri Lanka besides there are many INGO’s with first hand knowledge of what really occured. In fact the ICRC director for asian affairs said enough to silence these bougus PoE’s and their reports but but his statement was hushed up.

      • 3
        2

        You are wrong. Before the final assault, government ordered all foreigners such as journalists NGO officials including ICRC and UN agencies. Therefore your claim that ICRC director had first hand knowledge is laughable. If ICRC director has claimed that what he has reported is from what he saw personally, then he is a liar. Please stop propagating falsehoods. Please read my reply above and ask the government to comply with them in order that the inquiry is free and fair.

        • 3
          0

          Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

          ICRC had its own local people to report what had happened during the last days of the war.

          Whether ICRC would disclose all material information/evidence to UNHRC is not known.

          • 1
            2

            I agree with you that local Tamils who worked for ICRC were left behind while all foreigners were withdrawn on government orders. So for NAK to say that many INGOs had first hand knowledge of what occured is a blatant lie.

            • 2
              1

              Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

              “I agree with you that local Tamils who worked for ICRC were left behind while all foreigners were withdrawn on government orders.”

              ICRC had its Sinhala speaking staff members in and around Vanni and elsewhere.

              Hindians had two field hospitals and a number of reporters permanently stationed where the war was intensifying. Probably they are sworn to secrecy now hence we don’t hear much about the war.

              Lets await another few years for them to leak bits and pieces here and there.

    • 3
      0

      They could have said that the report utilised tentative evidence that could not be verified and the locations of the alleged crimes could not be visited. But then again the Panel of Experts (which was appointed to advise on legal issues, not factual ones, by the way) had Yasmin Sooka on it, and she was advocating for the Tamil Tigers for reasons that are not too clear, yet.

  • 6
    9

    Omnipotent, omnipresent Michael has spoken. Let us all bow down and worship LOL

    Stop with these conspiracy theories already.

    You seem to think that everyone has to believe your stories but no ones seems to have so far. Keep trying.

    In the meantime the UNHRC report comes out in 2 weeks.

    • 5
      4

      UNHRC report is not going to do a goddmned lot for the Tiger rump except that some may loose their refugee status and dumped in a flight with no return ticket.

  • 6
    5

    Michael Roberts outpourings exhibit an infallibility complex. Anyone can publish on social media. Getting into print is more problematic. Editors ask for more than self belief. Below is an evaluation of Roberts writing that has recently been doing the rounds. In it the writer says of a Roberts’ essay… “all the more pernicious for the way in which it explicitly projects itself as a reasoned, balanced, concerned and honest act of scholarship – something that can well take in those unsuspecting people who might be beguiled enough by its scholarly posturing’s not to see through its distortions and, worse, its cynical manipulations of undeniable “facts” (including copious statistics, maps, classifications, labelling’s, whatever) to what it is actually shamefully doing.”

    • 3
      2

      Explains why the man was not made professor by the wicked, scheming Australian university in which he taught.

  • 10
    5

    Well, how can Amnesty International remain neutral when it accepts money from dubious sources? [Edited out]

    • 4
      5

      Vibhushana
      It’s that old chestnut again. Anybody that criticised the Rajapakse regime must be getting bribed from the other side. Change the record and accept there are one or two honest reporters, at least in other countries if not here, that report the truth.

  • 6
    9

    What this [Edited out] does not realise is that the casualties can be MORE than 40,000 too! Where were you (Michael)when these massacres happened (I am not pinning the Armed forces alone for this)? You were safely in AUS! So shut up your[Edited out]. You accuse UN of writing a report without visiting SL. What about you? were there when it happened?

  • 14
    1

    Thank you CT for running well researched, well written & intelligent article. In recent times the quality of articles has dropped , and websites have become openings for poor quality nonsense.

  • 8
    8

    Dishonest Reportage By AI & Aussie Journalists Remains Unmasked:

    Why, Do you believe you are an honest Reporter? Anything but. We saw how you distorted facts to prop MR in your reporting. First remove the log in your eye before trying to remove the speck of the other.

  • 4
    7

    Alas, Dr Roberts uses a specious argument to question what is, subject to an independent inquiry, an estimate. Just that!

    Comparing events at Gallipoli to that in the North/Wanni/Nandikadal is an exercise in futility. In one, there was extensive back-up facilities to count the dead and treat those injured, in the other, the medical support was nearly non-existent, the injured were mostly left to die, and there was no stomach by those left standing to count the bodies – even the bodies that still not had been buried.

    Better late than never, but, time methinks for an overdue impartial inquiry. Before the ghosts get tired of haunting us, and come back to life!

    • 6
      5

      Spring Koha

      This [Edited out] has questioned the veracity of UN figures.

      I wonder whether he could give us an alternative number that UN could reconcile with theirs.

      He should approach the Hindians who were not only present in large numbers but effectively running the war machine if he desperately want truth. There are other sources as well, perhaps the old codger is unaware of. May be he is not interested in truth being told.

      Hope Irathinavalli (your fragrant one) can help him.

  • 12
    6

    Well said Dr Roberts!

    The 40,000 figure is pure fiction. Its use is purely for propaganda purposes and to (1) buttress the refugee claims of well to do, unaffected, Tamils seeking refuge in Western countries and (2) continue with the Separatist agenda.

    The most potent weapon the LTTE had outside of arms was (and still is) the propaganda network. It is the infiltration of LTTE propaganda cadres into (1)Western Media (2) Political Parties (3) Human Rights organizations (4) Churches in the Western world. Where they couldn’t infiltrate, they wined and dined influential people (probably bribed them too at times), to get them to push forward Tiger propaganda. That is how the 40,000 became stuck.

    One day the truth will be out, with forensic investigation. Dr Roberts just gave us a glimpse of what it may reveal. Count the number wounded, divide by two, and that number is more likely the actual deaths – not 40,000!

    • 4
      6

      Yes the 40000 figure may be wrong. The number bombs and shells, use of chemical weapons would have killed more than 100000 civilians. Even the former Vice President of slip said that Indian army was. In the field and. Artillery unit. srilankas track record of living and hiding facts are nothing new to the world. US and UN have all evidence of the massacre of Tamil by the srilanka state military.

      • 2
        3

        Don’t forget the nuclear weapons, dragons and hordes of xenomorphs unleashed upon 100% totally innocent We Thamizh by the sinhaloids, “Smith” :D

      • 4
        2

        @Smith
        You are right..

        In fact, I think your estimate of 1 Million is too low. I have heard numbers of 20 million. Just imagine, 1 – 20 million people packed into a strip of land a few Km’s long and about 500 meters wide.

        They were decimated and disposed of so quickly and efficiently that in the few days followingg the heinous crime, not a sign of those 20 million was visible to even the most sophisticated satellites

        Meanwhile somehow, the Sri Lanka population mysteriously, was static – in spite of 20 million of the populace suddenly disappearing

    • 3
      2

      Fiction becomes ‘reality’ to those who have long fantasised about a non-existant EElaam.

    • 1
      4

      You are asking Dr. Michale to add something and devide something. Do you thing he can do it. Do not assume everybody can do everything.

  • 4
    5

    Ken Anagarika Dharmapala

    “One day the truth will be out, with forensic investigation”

    That would be wonderful if you are really after truth. Truth could be anything between 7,000 and 70,000 excluding 18,000 in 1971 and 130,000 between 1987 and 1991.

    If you add all loss of lives from early 1980s to mid 2008 it could be more than what you are taught to count.

    If you believe in Truth you don’t need forensic investigation.

    “The truth will set you free, but first it will p**s you off.”

    ― Gloria Steinem

  • 4
    6

    Robert’s analysis is flawed and reflects a lack of common sense and poor reasoning. Going back to Gallipoli and saying that the ratio of killed to wounded should be 1: 3 is misleading and erroneous . What Robert fails to understand is that at the time of the Gallipoli war the weapons used were not as lethal and deadly as the bombs used nowadays which basically kill and leave little room for wounded. I would also like to ask Robert’s whether he has any evidence to prove that the figure of 40000 is incorrect? I don’t blame the Australian media for not publishing his articles which they considered as garbage.

  • 5
    2

    To justify the balkanisation of Yugoslavia for NATO expansion similar numbers were produced. The number of dead were quoted as 200,000 by the Western propaganda sheets. When independent journalists at the frontline reported that no evidence existed for such claims, Louise Arbour, the great Canadian ‘humanitarian’ dismissed them. The fake concept of R2P was concocted and Canada took part in the 90 day bombing campaign and today NATO is on the Russian border spending billions of dollars attempting to create mayhem.

    We do know that LTTE sympathisers were ever hopeful that such an event, based R2P, would occur in Sri Lanka too.

  • 1
    4

    Michale now prove that Goata was telling the truth. But don’t write too much, we have no time to read that much.

  • 2
    6

    Michael thanks for the spin again – we know the Sinhala nationalist propaganda brigade is always working hard to undermine Amnesty, the UN, ICG and everyone who is a ‘white Tiger’. Now lets have the real investigation. Coming soon to an island near you.

  • 4
    2

    Neville de Silva

    You would find that in the first of Callum MaCrae’s reports on the last stages of the war “Sri Lanka-the Killing Fields”, the narrator Jon Snow of Channel 4 makes the same error turning credible allegations into credible evidence. Jon Snow is a veteran journalist. Did he slip up or did his researchers make the error. Was it an inadvertent error or was it deliberate? Whatever it is this is the type of reportage that Sri Lanka has had to face. I was in Bangkok at the time and I remember mentioning this to several journalists at the Bangkok Foreign Correspondent’s Club because Killing Fields was screened at the Club. But I did manage to have the response to it, a badly edited video with a poor script produced by the Defence Ministry, screened back to back, though I was not happy with what we had to show in answer to C4.

    • 2
      1

      Well now, Neville De S. knows all about the dark arts of turning outrageous allegations into credible evidence himself. But he does have a valid point when he refers to the piss-poor defence of the Defence ministry. The GOSL did an outstanding job of clearing out the foreign busy-bodies that were buzzing around up north at the time. Everything was set for a glorious finish, without messy witnesses, but there was no keeping out the surreptitious video cameras; even those of the soldiers of the army of righteousness who wanted to show the evidence to those back in the villages. And those bloody satellites!

      The army should have kept their best weapon, the Rottweilers’ Rottweiler, the ‘special one’, Go-Go-Gotabh, in a dark room, well away from anything that listens and writes. What was he doing talking to the likes of Milliband and Kouchner? What was he doing talking to Sackur? Everytime Go-Go blew a gasket, the opposition cheered. Never mind the millions paid to the shysters in Washington DC to repair the damage, the money would have been better spent on jobbing-journalists and proper spokesman positioned outside the door of the Defence ministry.

      A lesson too late for the learning, this we know, this we know………indeed, with respect and credit to the Tom Paxton, here are the words that came to my lips of the morning of this 9th January gone.

      Are you going away with no word of farewell?
      Will there be not a trace left behind?
      Well, WE could have loved you better,
      Didn’t mean to be unkind.
      You know that was the last thing on OUR mind.

      You’ve got reasons a-plenty for goin’.
      This WE know, this WE know.
      For the weeds have been steadily growin’.
      Please don’t go, please don’t go.

      And so he slipped away, with big brother. into the crimson dawn. What a way to go!

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      Dear Neville,
      There is no point in us fighting over credibility and figures. It is a foregone conclusion that for the time being the war crimes committed by Srilankan security forces will be brushed under the carpet, for the only reason that US has made an unchangeable decision that it be done to protect the current regime being overthrown by Sinhala uprising if an international panel is constituted or if any high up is convicted. Sadly truth and justice is being sacrificed for the sake of interest of US. But please remember if Rajapakse or any other person inimical to US interests comes to power, the war crimes inquiry will be dug up.

      The following facts may enlighten you to arrive at the truth:
      1. The commission appointed by UN is only a preliminary inquiry to find whether there is adequate evidence to constitute a war crimes tribunal. This is similar to non-summary proceedings in a murder trial to find prima-facie evidence to commute the case to a full trial. Now this commission has come out with a figure of 40,000 and recommended for a full trial. This is only a guestimate, it may be more or it may be less, only God will know the correct figure in the absence of the perpetrators telling the truth. This panel would never have been constituted if Srilanka government agreed to hold an inquiry of its own on these allegations of war crimes by her security forces. Even in the accusations of sexual assault levelled against Srilankan security forces who were part of UN peacekeeping force in Haiti, the Srilankan government has yet to hold an inquiry on that despite promising the UN.
      2. The fault of the government is that initially they said there were zero casualty and on internaional pressue back tracked and said it was 7,000. Does this not prove that the government is guilty of a serious offence. In 1983 riots government said that there were only 800 deaths inspite of over 3,000 people killed and did not allow any independant investigation to ascertain the truth. The behaviour of the government in not allowing any independant investigation to find the truth this time around, arouses a suspicion that the death toll is much more. Even if the figure is 7,000, where are those dead bodies, and if they have been disposed of, tell in what way they were done. If there is any iota of humanity, the government must allow the exhumation of these bodies and hand over the remains to relatives to give the dead a decent funeral. Will the government do it.

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    Another important point to make as that the sources of the so-called estimate of the number of Tamil civilians who “could have been” killed are anonymous. People should ask why the panel could not name them. The sources of other statements are cited, but why not these sources? Why was the Panel so shy about the sources of this particular figure/ And what became of the bodies and their remains? Forensic experts say that hiding the remains of one human being is extremely difficult, but 40,000?

    A plausible explanation for the anonymity is that at least one of the “credible sources” was on the panel itself. Another is that those sources were Tamil Tiger members and sympathisers, some of them inside self-styled human rights organisations and the UN. A third explanation is that the sources did not exist and the Panel just made up the figure of 40,000. A fourth explanation, and the least likely, is that the Panel felt that the UN is so weak and ineffective that it was afraid that it could not protect the anonymous sources from the full might of Sri Lankan retribution.

    Perhaps the forth-coming UNHRC report will deal with some of these issues.

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      Candidly,

      there is a fifth explanation. That those who could have established the truth were not allowed to go anywhere near the accursed fields of doom that held the evidence. Not to probe the tell-tale mounds of mass-burial sites, or test the plankton and sediment of Nandikadal lagoon.

      As for your question ‘And what became of the bodies and their remains?’ I asked my expert on body disposals, Mr Randeniya, and he said that a few mass graves, then some in the lagoon for the fish. Easiest of course was, you could also make a few piles of bodies and cremate them and the ashes would be blown away by the pestilential winds from the Bay of Bengal, and nobody would be any wiser.

      No war, No peace. When will the gods lift this national curse?

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    Excellent article by Professor Roberts as usual. We Thamizh are now in a bit of a bind by not thinking far enough ahead before making up casualty figures.

    There are two approaches taken to try and explain away the glaring holes: either We Thamizh start babbling about how Sinhaloid magical explosives have a 100% kill rate and never maim, or about how most of the 1.6 billion 100% totally innocent We Thamizh were killed by being stuffed into gas chambers or barrels of acid (much to the chagrin of Callum & friends, who are still running with the shelling story). Both make about as much logical sense as the stories about Demezh Eezham :D

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    Ah, Spring Koha. Please keep publishing. Logic and sense with such wit. How lovely to hear the Koha’s delightful call.

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      Oops! I nearly fell off my perch.

      If this is indeed the legendary Dionysius of Halicarnassus foremost teacher of rhetoric, then I am most humbled.

      As I fly over and about this enchanted island of ours, I am indeed moved from time to time to ‘add my two cents worth’ when I can.

      Thank You for your kind words, and May your joys multiply ceaselessly.

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    It’s no good crying foul now after the damage has been done. We squandered the opportunity to launch a credible response to “Killing Fields” by our leaders playing the macho image and denying admittance to all reporters, good and bad, and instead sending our own lunatic Gotabhaya Rajapakse to defend who only managed to remove all lingering doubts about the cruel allegations. Unlike in Sri Lanka, the UK have strict broadcasting controls to ensure fairness and if you watch the program you’d notice that at the beginning they declare that none of the footage had been authenticated. If our idiot leaders had afforded them the facility to authenticate, they certainly would have failed and the broadcast and the subsequent adverse report halted. If anybody is to blame, it is our cardboard chandyas, the Rajapakses, sadly still revered by morons.

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    Hi Michael Roberts! You are quite right in saying your thoughts are abject failure. Your article is quite an abomination. I quote you; Para 1 the part of the first sentence, “Without ever visiting the Island” Your illustrious President whom, a clown for many had all the intention of hiding, the very evidence of this Genocidal war on the Tamils. His arrogance and cunningness had prevented any Foreigners, including the UN special reporters’ to snoop the ‘war theatre’ after Ban-KI-Moon 23rd May2009.
    He had plotted this vengeance against the Tamils with his co- political-travellers JVP &JHU to create his “Mahnida chinthanaya” in March 2005. Moreover, to stage this ‘scheme on MC’ it was to prevent Tamils demanding their ‘Homeland’. He had to buy his first presidency from Prabaharan and he was successful in November 2005. When the UN Secretary General appointed his experts, Mahinda organised his LLRC and barred any one visiting your Paradise Island. When these experts were denied entry into the Island, they were supplied with much needed credible evidence (Written documents, Photographs, and video evidence). Some of this credible evidence came from the very soldiers who had witnessed the war. They were present in the war theatre. Surely, one has to presume that these Men were hostile to the ‘admittedly distasteful Rajapaske regime’. To sum up, the UN experts have been spared of their visits to the Island. They were provided with ample credible evidence on war crimes and crime against humanity to compile their valuable report. Michael, does this make sense?
    Michael, I don’t intent dissecting your article because you are biased, myopic, parochial in your understanding on this war, moreover you have been dishonest in your presentations in the past few years after the war had ended. You are not a moral crusader! Are you? Your accusation on Amnesty International and ABC (Australian news Media) does not hold water. Below some facts to digest;
    (1) Quoting Bishop of Manner; Census taken in 2001 had 435,000 as Vanni Population
    (2) The World Food Organisation wanted to feed these people in March 2009, Government of SriLanka gave them a figure of 70,000 . What was their intention? Why did the government give such a low figures?
    (3) End of war [18th/19th May 2009] the people who were rescued or survived came into the camps in Vanni,they were around 289,000. What happened to 146, 000 people of Vanni? How many died, or disappeared into the thin air?
    (4) Then Defence Secretary Mr Gota Rajapaske claimed that his Air Force had carried out 8000 sorties from 1st January 2009 up until 18th May 2009. Evidence do show that these aerial bombing had included Cluster Bombs, Chemical-Phosphorous in addition to heavy bombs to cause maximum damage to the population and the environment.
    (5) Due to International pressure Mahinda had to close these camps in Vanni by Sept 2013, people were hurriedly moved to various areas and were left to fend for themselves. Few had moved to live with their friends and relatives. Even today there are more than few thousands living in temporary shelters. In fact there are still IDP’S. But Mahinda had claimed that there are no IDP’S in the Island.
    (6) Harassment of armed forces continues, In 2011 Grease Devil appeared, 2014 Revival of LTTE spectre and three rehabilitated former LTTE men were killed and claimed that they were shot during an encounter.
    I am sure you know all these, and the cause for the Tamil youths arm struggle. Now, you be judicious in drawing your conclusion to purify your conscious.

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