23 October, 2020

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Moral Crusader Journeys Into Duplicity

By Michael Roberts

Dr Michael Roberts

Dr Michael Roberts

Today’s world in the West is marked by currents of secular fundamentalism mounting campaigns against paedophiles, smoking, corruption and “crimes against humanity”. The humanitarian campaign directed at war crimes has on occasions promoted a strange phenomenon: where people of ethical stance indulge in outright lies as well as the massaging of facts. When Amnesty International, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Sydney) and such moral crusaders as Gordon Weiss descend to such duplicity, the world must surely take note.

The Australian media-man Gordon Weiss is the epitome of a moral crusader. Of Polish Jewish ancestry, it is likely that his leanings are coloured by the horrors inflicted on the Jews in Europe during the first half of the 20th century. His presentation of self within his own web site, his intense demeanour when fronting the public on TV cameras or stage and his campaign against the government of Sri Lanka (GSL) stand as testimony to the stance “crusader for truth.”

He was the Media Officer for the United Nations and located in Colombo during the last phase of the Eelam War IV. In early May 2009, assisted by his friendship with Ravi Nessman of Associated Press, he went on world air through AP to assert that a “bloodbath” was about to unfold in the north-eastern war zone. This presentation was part of a campaign led by USA to force the government of Sri Lanka (GSL) to arrest its military operations so that the Western cabal could (a) save the Tamil civilians and (b) whisk the LTTE leadership to Eritrea, South Africa or East Timor. Witness the public statement by Under-Secretary of State Michael Owens in Washington at about the same time, the scathing attack on GSL by Hilary Clinton on 22nd April 2009, KP’s revelations to Jeyaraj (2011) and Salter’s To End a Civil War (2015).

The public interventions by Clinton, Nessman and Weiss are revealing because they occurred after the SL Army special forces penetrated the “Last Redoubt” of the Tigers on the eastern coastal strip abutting Nandhi Kadal Lagoon (NKL) in a remarkable operation launched on the 18th/19th night in April, “one of the most fascinating surgical military operations ever undertaken” according to Shashikumar, an Indian defence analyst. Between the 19th and 23rd April some 103,000 Tamil civilians and Tiger fighters who had discarded their weapons streamed across the NKL to safety in government terrain (Image 1).

A video grab shows thousands of people the military said fled an area held controlled by the Tamil Tiger separatists in northeastern Sri Lanka on April 20, 2009. REUTERS/SLRC via Reuters TV

A video grab shows thousands of people the military said fled an area held controlled by the Tamil Tiger separatists in northeastern Sri Lanka on April 20, 2009. REUTERS/SLRC via Reuters TV

This process, including clear daytime scenes, was seen on live footage from UAVs by privileged diplomats and reporters at the operation room of the SLAF in Slave Island, Colombo on Monday the 20th April. This remarkable relief operation was not interpreted as such by the international world. Clinton’s tirade marked a different picture, supported by lamentations in other quarters such as The Economist of 23rd April 2009.

Since then Weiss has been among those peddling this reading. Like the US government his criticisms have embraced the LTTE, but then concentrated heavily on “war crimes” and other misdemeanours on the part of GSL.

One spearhead in this programme has been a battery of UN functionaries in the service of the Western cabal. The “UN Panel of Experts” appointed by Navy Pillai served as the battering ram in this campaign in a report presented in March 2011. An examination of this document by a Marga team concluded that its methodology was slipshod and that it did not proceed like a judicial board, but worked as a prosecution team seeking prima facie evidence for a trial. However, Marga is a tiny outfit in a tiny island. Its inputs are simply drowned out in the gargantuan international world of power.

Gordon Weiss has been one force in these power-games. Located in Sydney and associated with radical-liberal media and academic agencies in that metropolis, he has reached far and wide in a campaign that describes the Sri Lankan war in ways that renders GSL the prime target. His presentation at the Edinburgh Literary Festival was reworked in print form as “Sri Lanka’s Srebenica Moment.” This provided a specific slant supplementing a general survey in The Cage (2011) – a book that is widely available.

Amongst many claims, The Cage asserts: “[w]hile the Tamil Tigers preserved the Vanni Tamils as a human shield, the Sri Lankan government deliberately denied the besieged population food, medicine, shelter and medical and (sic) aid personnel” (p. 196). On the 16th October 2014 Weiss repeated this particular charge at a panel discussion organized by the University of Queensland (UQ), one which featured Emily Howie of Amnesty International and a leading SL Tamil activist, Dr. Sam Pari.

Earlier in 2014 Weiss had been part of a committee of five which compiled a large document entitled Island of Impunity? Investigation into International Crimes in the Final Stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War for the Public Advocacy Centre in Sydney. This instrument served as the foundation for an address in the Senate by Christine Milne, Leader of the Australian Greens Party, on 11th February 2014. Inter alia Milne accused the Sri Lankan government of preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the trapped populace.

This was an outrageous lie. It catered to the Western world’s ignorance about the basic political manoeuvres in the island which had led GSL from 1990 onwards to treat the de facto state of Thamilīlam as an “uncleared area” where the state officials were paid by Colombo but took orders from the LTTE, while stocks of essential supplies (barring items of military value) were despatched regularly to Tigerland. This was a massive operation financed by international goodwill as well as GSL monies and serviced by Western governments, INGOs and NGOs working in coordination with GSL functionaries.Pic 2=Vavuniya logisitcs hub

After Eelam War IV commenced in October 2006, a Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance chaired by a Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe including leading ambassadors, the Chairman of the NGOs Committee, the Director, of the World Food Programme and a government official in charge of essential services among others, was set up to coordinate these activities.

To service this activity a logistics hub was located at Vavuniya in government-controlled territory just south of the southern border of Thamilīlam (Images 2 & 3). In late 2008 the Medical Superintendent in Kilinochchi and other Tamil officials in Tiger territory showed commendable foresight in stockpiling medical supplies and refrigerators for an anticipated emergency down the track.Pic3=UN TRUCK CONVOY

When land convoys conveying supplies (e. g. basic foods and medicines) to the war theatre were not feasible after late January 2009, the ICRC chartered commercial ships that were escorted to the coastal front by the SL Navy. At least 31 voyages occurred between early February and 9th May. From that land-and-water war front, the ICRC ships also evacuated injured and sick (selected by the LTTE): at least 13,794 men, women and children were evacuated to Pulmoddai or Trincomalee.

As UN Media Officer, Weiss would have been cognisant of such activities. In describing the inhumane impact of SL Army shelling in late January 2009 witnessed by UN officials in a chapter entitled “Convoy 11” in The Cage, Weiss inadvertently tells us that ten other convoys had taken supplies to Thamilīlam earlier.

So, his subsequent accounts amount to a work of duplicity. Christine Milne bought into this duplicity and even expanded on this act by coupling GSL with the LTTE in her charge of child-conscription:

“During the armed conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, human rights abuses and violations of international law were widespread. It is alleged that in the final years of the conflict war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by both government forces and the LTTE …. overwhelmingly the evidence gathered suggests the vast majority of crimes were committed by the Sri Lankan security forces. This includes allegations of attacks in and around civilian areas; restriction of civilian movement; denial of humanitarian assistance; killing, conscripting and enlisting of children; rape and sexual violence; torture and cruel treatment and enforced disappearances.”

While embracing the LTTE in such accusations, the international circuit has taken advantage of the absence of any surviving Tiger leaders to focus on members of the GSL as the sole target of judicial action. The main charge here is not the alleged failure to provide aid, but gross exaggerations of the number of civilians killed. In circumstances where Tiger fighters did not wear uniforms the UNPoE’s reference to the credible possibility that there “could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths” became a definitive figure of 40,000 killed in media reportage throughout the world. Amnesty International adopted this figure as fact and did not alter its internet presentation when the error was pointed out. Emily Howie’s presence at the Queensland media event was in line with the slant adopted by this leading agency for ethical action.

In pinpointing such cardinal errors in the facts surrounding Eelam War IV, I am clearly participating in the propaganda war surrounding the topic. Whatever the leanings attributed to my writings, I wish readers to focus here on an issue that fascinates me: how is it that people of ethical stance such as Gordon Weiss indulge in such chicanery? Can we conclude that the target of criticism becomes more important than the facts? and that there are none so blind than persons of fervour glued to one horizon?

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anonymous 2009a “The Sri Lankan army could turn triumph into disaster unless it shows restraint, Economist.com, April 23, http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13527659.

Anonymous 2009b “Dark victory”, Economist.com, http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=13527366

Gamage, Daya 2014 The American Agenda for Sri Lanka’s National Issues, 1970s-2014,” 5 July 2014, http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/the-american-agenda-for-sri-lankas-national-issues-1970s-2014/

Gamage, Daya 2016 “Clinton E-Mail Scandal: Never wanted Sri Lanka LTTE defeated,” Asian Tribune, 27 May 2016

Govt Film Unit [SL] 2014 “Last Days at Nandikadal,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kEzLEafDss ORhttps://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox/148fce36b9866525?projector=1

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

Hull, C. Bryson 2009 “Sri Lanka opens eye in the sky on war zone,” 20 April 2009, http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSCOL450259

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

Jeyaraj, D. B. S. 2009a “Wretched of the Wanni Earth break Free of Bondage,” http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/380 and Daily Mirror, 25 April 2009.

Jeyaraj, D. B. S. 2010 “KP speaks out ~ 2 – An interview with the former LTTE chief,” 13 August 2010, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1631

Jeyaraj, DBS 2011 “KP” Speaks Out, Vavuniya: NERDO.

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

Milne, Christine 2014 “Christine Milne speaks on Human Rights Abuses in Sri Lanka,” 11 Feb 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OXs4UA5WLo

Reddy, B. Muralidhar 2009d “An Escape from Hellhole,” http://www.hindu.com/ 2009/04/25/stories/2009042558390100.html.

Reddy, Muralidhar 2009e “Final Assault. A first-hand account of the war and the civilians’ plight as Eelam War almost comes to a close,” Frontline, 26/11, May 23-June 5, 2009, http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=archive.

Reddy, Muralidhar 2009f “Final Hours. An eye-witness account of the last 70 hours of Eelam War IV,” Frontline, 26/12, 6-19 June 2009, http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2612/stories/20090619261200900.htm

Roberts, Michael 2009 “Realities of War,” Frontline, May 2009, Vol 26: 10.

 Roberts, Michael 2011 “Amnesty International reveals its Flawed Tunnel-Vision in Sri Lanka in 2009,” 10 Aug. 2011,https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/amnesty-international-reveals-its-flawed-tunnel-vision-on-sri-lanka-in-2009/

Roberts, Michael 2011 “Simpletons at the World’s Peak: Sri Lankan Situation stumps the World,” in Roberts, Fire and Storm, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 291-302.

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

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Medical Administration and Relief within the Vanni Pocket, January to mid-May 2009,” 1 July 2014, http://groundviews.org/2014/01/07/medical-administration-and-relief-within-the-vanni-pocket-january-to-mid-may-2009/

Roberts, Michael 2015 “The Realities of Eelam War IV,” 27 October 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/the-realities-of-eelam-war-iv/

Roberts, Michael 2016 “Reuters in Word and Image: Depicting the Penetration of the LTTE’s Last Redoubt, 19-22 April 2009,” 19 March 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/03/19/reuters-in-word-and-image-depicting-the-penetration-of-the-lttes-last-redoubt-19-22-april-2009/#more-20190

Salter, Mark 2015 To End a Civil War, London: Hurst and Company.

Sengupta, S. 2009 “U.S. Faults Sri Lanka on Civilian Woes,” 22 April 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/world/asia/23lanka.html?_r=0

Shanmugarajah, V. 2014 Dr. Veerakanthipillai Shanmugarajah’s Affidavit Description of Conditions in the Vanni Pocket in Refutation of Channel Four,” 5 January 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/drveerakanthipillai-shanmugarajahs-affidavit-description-of-conditionsin-the-vanni-pocket-in-refutation-of-channel-four/

Shashikumar, V. K. 2014 “Lessons from Sri Lanka’s War,” 19 November 2014,

UN Panel of Experts 2011 “Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka,” http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/POE_Report

Weiss, Gordon 2011 “Sri Lanka faces its ‘Srebrenica Moment’,” 23 April 2011, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/sri-lanka-faces-its-srebrenica-moment/story-e6frg6ux-1226043466322

 Weiss, Gordon 2011 The Cage, Sydney: Picador.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    Nice one Dr Roberts.

    Oh, and what’s this ‘In pinpointing such cardinal errors in the facts surrounding Eelam War IV, I am clearly participating in the propaganda war surrounding the topic…….

    As Aunty said ‘there’s nothing new, just the old recycled’. How true!

    • 4
      1

      Spring Koha

      “As Aunty said ‘there’s nothing new, just the old recycled’. How true!”

      Are you sure it was your aunty who said what she said? Come on wasn’t it your grandma?

      However, whoever said it she said it right and I thank her for her wise comment.

    • 2
      2

      Michael Roberts

      “He was the Media Officer for the United Nations and located in Colombo during the last phase of the Eelam War IV. In early May 2009, assisted by his friendship with Ravi Nessman of Associated Press, he went on world air through AP to assert that a “bloodbath” was about to unfold in the north-eastern war zone. This presentation was part of a campaign led by USA to force the government of Sri Lanka (GSL) to arrest its military operations so that the Western cabal could (a) save the Tamil civilians and (b) whisk the LTTE leadership to Eritrea, South Africa or East Timor. Witness the public statement by Under-Secretary of State Michael Owens in Washington at about the same time, the scathing attack on GSL by Hilary Clinton on 22nd April 2009, KP’s revelations to Jeyaraj (2011) and Salter’s To End a Civil War (2015).”

      Yes. Duplicity.

      Have you heard about the WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction?

      Just curious.

      How many lies … the answer is Blown’ in the wind.

  • 10
    1

    Yawwwnnnn – what a bore!

  • 8
    3

    His storian,

    You started with ZERO.

    Not sure when you will get to the actual figure.

    Ch4 videos are authentic GOSL says.

    How did you miss CH4 killing fields videos ?

    Add these to your references.

    War crimes http://www.crisisgroup.be/flash/sl/sl.html

    Killing fields of SriLanka https://prezi.com/jez7luhd5cul/no-fire-zone-the-killing-fields-of-sri-lanka/

    http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/The_Internal_Review_Panel_report_on_Sri_Lanka.pdf – as many as 70000 tamils killed

    • 2
      0

      @ apu

      wow 70,000 hmm strange that now when most of the western nations that backed the many UNHCR resolutions against the GOSL and LTTE now claim the figure of 40,000 killed is problematic and not a ACCURATE representation and lower that that figure. Sure everyone was stunned when non other than John Kerry himself uttered these words. But non of the western funded NGO’s objected to this statement after the change of the Government. Still nice to see the truth coming out at last even the verification of the Images of ch4 short video and still images by gosl.

  • 3
    2

    One wonders how these Human rights groups and so called activist fair in the Israel Palestine conflict or not.

    Not long these people were supporting the so called moderate rebels in Syria. Until video imaged of these moderates eating the hearts of their victims.

    • 7
      1

      jan

      “One wonders how these Human rights groups and so called activist fair in the Israel Palestine conflict or not.”

      I suggest you go on a fact finding mission to these areas of conflict and find out for yourself and come back and inform us as to the inability of these Human Rights Group to effectively bring peace and prosperity to the people of area of your interest.

      By the way, before you leave this island on your mission could you find out why Israel has been meddling in the affairs of this island and what has been their contribution to this island’s stupid war efforts? Is it their strategic interest or profits from murder machines that got the Israelis actively involve in this island’s internal affairs from outside, and far away places?

      • 4
        0

        @ Native Vedda

        Clearly you have undertaken this mission yourself. So why not enlighten us with your findings?

      • 5
        0

        He Native Vedda just answered your question perfectly and showed the duplicity of the western backed political Human rights groups as this article has clearly pointed out.

        THANKS

  • 7
    2

    His Storian,

    “the international circuit has taken advantage of the absence of any surviving Tiger leaders”

    Have you heard of Karuna? Have you heard of KP? Have you heard of pillayan?

    • 7
      4

      Why did you omit Adele?

      • 5
        2

        Taraki

        “Why did you omit Adele?”

        For the same reason, you omit the names of hundreds of members of former Pottu Amman operatives who directly worked for Gota and continue to work for military un-intelligence.

        By the way, Anpu can speak for himself.

        • 1
          6

          ‘For the same reason, you omit the names of hundreds of members of former Pottu Amman operatives who directly worked for Gota and continue to work for military un-intelligence’

          So it is ok for him to be selective too. Good.

          ‘By the way, Anpu can speak for himself’

          So why are you speaking for him?

          • 5
            2

            Taraki

            “So it is ok for him to be selective too. Good.”

            I just wanted to remind you that you have asked the same question umpteenth time.

            Now you have accepted you are an idiot and cannot live without bringing Adele into every stupid typing.

            If you want to take her to ICC, well ask your state and the government to deal with it.

            “So why are you speaking for him?”

            I am trying to put some sense into your bigoted head, which is difficult but I think doable. Maybe it could take the entire lifetime.

            • 2
              3

              I don’t think so. Somebody pointed out that the US employed Nazi scientists and engineers after the war in return for immunity from prosecution. That is what this government and the previous one have done with Karuna, Pilayan etc.

              I do not know why Adele (and all the funders of terror whose bank accounts are easily traceable) have not been extradited or prosecuted. May be the government has agreed not to proceed to spare the West embarrassment in exchange for some favour. I do not know. As I have said before, the UN is not interested in Tamil problems. The outcome of all the current machinations will be whatever is politically suitable to both the UN and the government.

              Your foolish personal insults only reflect badly on you and your inability to counter an argument.

  • 9
    5

    Loooong list of references? Michael Roberts is still wiping the bottoms. Sri Lanka maintained that there were only 36,000 people when nearly 390,000 plus were trapped in in April – May 20009. The motive was to kill most of them.

    Not sure why he has to jump at Gordon Weiss and UN.

    It is an open challenge for Michael Roberts. If you have even an iota of genuine mind, you would write about the killing of Tamils in 2009, You would write about the stripping of those young people, even if they were LTTE cadres. Tamils are down, and you are keen to stomp on their heads. What is the difference between you and the ‘soldiers’ who shot Prabaharan’s son?

    Please don’t claim to be an academic and bring the profession down. Probably a prostitute would be more credible than you mate.

    • 7
      2

      Well said, Rohan,

      This fellow Michael Roberts is a well known anti-Tamil racist – his writings attest to that fact.

      He is is annoyed with Gordon Weiss because he appears in film “Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” by Callum Macrae which is forensically proved several times over as genuine though Sri Lankan government tried several times to discredit it by various crooked means.

      All the Sinhala racists use cockeyed arguments to support their prejudices: The references are to impress the gullible readers as if he has done serious rational research on the matter – bull shit.

      • 0
        0

        http://tamilnation.co/selfdetermination/nation/roberts.htm

        This fellow Michael Roberts is a well known anti-Tamil racist – his writings attest to that fact.????

        Thiru have you read this: Roberts, Michael 1994 Exploring confrontation. Sri Lanka: politics, culture and history, Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers.

  • 8
    2

    Look up the meaning of the word “duplicity” Michael.

    Michael Roberts finds duplicity in all those who did not openly support the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime – this includes the Commonwealth with the exception of the former Australian PM Tony Abbott.

    Michaell names Gordon Weiss and a Navy Pillai. (By the way Michael did you mean Navi Pillay? A Freudian slip? You must not let the Navy inspired hospitality from the former Lankan High Commissioner to Australia Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, to over stimulate your mind).

    You say that Gordon Weiss felt the horrors of the Lankan civil war because of his Polish Jewish ancestry. Need one be Jewish to see the horrors of the Holocaust? Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu mentioned the horrors of the Lankan civil war. He has no Jewish blood Michael. You obviously did not see any horror and is this because you wish to identify yourself with Aryan ancestry?

    Get your facts right Michael – the 2011 Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka (aka the Darusman Panel) was appointed by the UN SG and not by Navi. The whole world accepted the report but you sight Marga to call it “a battering ram”.

    You quote an obscure defence analyst Shashikumar to rate the Nandhi Kadal episode as ”one of the most fascinating surgical operations ever undertaken”. Shooting dead a twelve year old point blank, taking trophy photographs and selling them is not fascinating Michael!

  • 6
    2

    This guy Roberts is a joker. Very good at selectively leaving out the facts that don’t suit his views in his writings. He is a disgrace to the genuine historians that have written about the conflict in Sri Lanka.

    • 6
      2

      “Duplicitous Roberts on an immoral crusade.”

  • 6
    2

    “The Australian media-man Gordon Weiss is the epitome of a moral crusader. Of Polish Jewish ancestry, it is likely that his leanings are coloured by the horrors inflicted on the Jews in Europe during the first half of the 20th century.” –Roberts

    Are you saying then that his Jewish ancestry disqualifies him from making statements about other conflicts? If that is to be accepted, it also means that an Afro-Caribbean who has chosen to become a passionate Sinhala nationalist cannot be taken seriously as a commentator in Sri Lankan politics, doesn’t it?

  • 3
    2

    This guy admits (on his blog) that he tailors his post titles to get ‘hits’, regardless of the accuracy of the titles.

    What a fraud!

  • 2
    1

    How is it that people of ethical stance such as Gordon Weiss indulge in such chicanery?

    How is it that people of ethical[?] stance such as Michael Roberts indulge in such chicanery?

  • 3
    0

    For the LTTE financiers who have excelled at lobbying and propaganda for decades the truth hurts and they cannot handle the truth. It is a fact that SL government was very bad at propaganda and the western nations knew this.

    The SL government and the army were no angels but the evil LTTE and its sponsors knew exactly what they were doing even if it was to sacrifice innocent Tamil civilians to achieve their aims and then cry foul when beaten.

    This so called “ethnic problem ” could have easily been solved if not for the racists on both sides of the divide but the Tamil leadership was just too arrogant to understand the reasonable concerns of the Singhalese and still continue to pay little heed. The previous Tamil leadership also wanted to cling onto the privileges enjoyed under the British.

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