I have just been sent a typical distortion by Groundviewsof what I said three years ago with regard to an Amnesty claim about cluster bombs. GroundViews declares that –
‘Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, in February 2009, called those in Amnesty International “lunatics” and their concern over the use of cluster bombs by the Sri Lankan army “rank idiocy”. ……What new levels of spin, deception, counter-claims, propaganda and hate speech through spokesmen, Ambassadors, advisors and other assorted apologists will the government employ to counter this damning new evidence of what can constitute war crimes by the armed forces?’
This is total distortion of what I said. The term rank idiocy was applied to a man called Jim McDonald who suggested it was possible that some lower ranks ‘used captured LTTE cluster bombs’.
I am grateful to Groundviews however for having, in their careful study of what I write, drawing attention to this article. It makes it clear that even Jim McDonald accepted that the LTTE had used cluster bombs. For him to claim then, in order to justify his determination to condemn the Sri Lankan forces, that what might have happened is that the Sri Lankan forces used captured LTTE cluster bombs is indeed the height of lunacy – which is perhaps even within Amnesty they began to tease Jim McDonald about his strange logic, and called him the ‘cluster bomb’.
It is useful, in the present controversy, to quote at length from my 2009 article. I should note too that several years ago I pointed out individuals who I believe had a destructive agenda. One was Rama Mani, who had to leave, despite the best efforts of the establishment trying to keep her. Sadly the advice I gave about Guy Rhodes and Gordon Weiss was not taken. It was much later that Wikileaks revealed that one of the principal sources of American charges against us was Guy Rhodes, and I suspect this fed into the contributions by Steve Rattner, who began by assuming that we were an apartheid state.
I can only hope that, now I have pointed out, on the same basis of logic, one more dangerous enemy to the Sri Lankan state, that my arguments are not ignored as happened with regard to Rhodes – who leads a mine action group and shared a platform recently with Alan Poston, an email from whom is now asserted to be a UN report. I am reminded of the manner in which a statement by Gordon Weiss was used three years ago to shore up the claim that the Sri Lankan forces had used cluster munitions, whereas even Weiss was not quite so categorical in his claim.
‘Their latest recruit to this game is a man called Jim McDonald, who has now emerged as their spokesman. He did not seem to have much of an identity, because unlike Foster and Zarifi he was never quoted in his releases, but now the reason for this is clear. Unlike those two, who are clever but devious, it is obvious that when he opens his mouth it is only to put his foot into it.
This emerged in his extraordinary justification for the Amnesty International piece which ‘denounced the reported use of cluster bombs in a civilian area by the Sri Lankan military as a serious violation of international humanitarian law. According to a UN spokesperson, the main hospital in the town of Puthukkudiyiruppu, was hit by cluster bombs and had to be evacuated.’
The implication of that statement was that Amnesty had received reports that the Sri Lankan military used cluster bombs, and that a UN spokesperson was responsible for these reports. However, when the UN acknowledged that it was mistaken, and a Sri Lankan asked McDonald also to apologise, he got a very weird justification for the Amnesty statement. That justification is worth quoting in full –
‘It is interesting to read that the UN apologised, when they never accused the Sri Lankan military in the first place of being the one to use the cluster bombs. Nor did the AI press release say that the UN had accused the government of doing so. Do the army commanders in Colombo know for a fact that some lower ranking officers or troops in the north didn’t use the cluster bombs? If the army says that they’ve never ordered the bombs so they couldn’t have used them, therefore the LTTE must have been the ones responsible, is it possible that some lower ranks used captured LTTE cluster bombs? I’m not at all saying that this is what happened. But if the LTTE had the bombs and if the army’s been capturing lots of LTTE equipment lately, is it possible? If you were the army commander, wouldn’t you want an investigation done to make sure that none of your forces up in the north could have been responsible?
I don’t see any reason for AI to apologise for our Feb. 4 press release. I hope this responds to your concerns.’
This is casuistry combined with rank idiocy. McDonald first asserts that the UN did not accuse the government of using cluster bombs. It was therefore obviously deliberate sleight of hand on the part of Amnesty to juxtapose the two sentences so as to suggest to readers that what the UN spokesperson said justified its initial denunciation. If it is now saying that the reports were from elsewhere, perhaps it could come clean by telling the world on whose word it was denouncing Sri Lanka.
But McDonald then goes madder. He assumes – contrary to the UN clarification that cluster bombs were used at all – to assume that they must have been, and therefore continues to insist that it must have been by the Sri Lankan military. He now acknowledges, on the strength of what the UN spokesperson said, only that the forces did not order cluster bombs – therefore, since in the strange world this old McDonald inhabits this means the forces are saying the LTTE must have used cluster bombs, he thinks it possible that the forces captured these bombs from the LTTE and then used them.’
I don’t suppose however that Groundviews will dream of apologizing for their perverse characterization of what I said. Like MacDonald, they will twist whatever lies at hand to achieve their ends.