Category Archives: gordon weiss

HRW in Syria and Sri Lanka: Moral Fervour generating Political Blindness and Partisanship

Michael Roberts,  courtesy of Colombo Telegraph where the title is different and reads as “The Political Bankruptcy of the Western Human Rights Lobby: Their Stance in Syria & Sri Lanka in Juxtaposition.” I anticipate lively blog-comments therein –with the usual quota of disparaging ‘assassinations’.  Highlighted emphasis in RED in the version below is my work.

 A friend in Adelaide recently directed me towards an article in a prestigious world media outlet by Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. In this essay entitled “What Trump Should Do in Syria,” Roth contends that Donald Trump needs to pursue “a much tougher approach toward Moscow than he so far envisions” because the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been “targeting and indiscriminately firing upon civilians and civilian infrastructure in opposition-held areas” with Russian backing. In his reading the enormous civilian death-toll is the product of the regime’s deliberate strategy, Besides generating an outflow of refugees, he says that the consequence will also produce an escalation of Islamist extremism. 

As an outsider with a limited knowledge of the extremely complex Syrian and Middle-Eastern ground situation, what strikes me about Roth’s declamation is its one-sidedness and its simplifications. It slides over the impact of US and NATO bombing runs. It implies that the extremism of ISIS, Al Qaida and other forces who are challenging the Syrian dictator is an outcome of the latter’s policies and says little about (a) the Sunni-Shia rivalries that are one aspect of the complex politics in Syria and the Middle East and (b) the repercussions flowing from the American dethronement of Saddam via invasion.

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The Missing in Lanka: An Old Bibliography … Further Supplemented

The passage of the Office of Missing Persons Bill in the Sri Lankan Parliament and the highlighting of this issue in Groundviews makes it imperative for serious analysts to scour the literature and take note of the problems in pursuing the topic in circumstances beset with continuing propaganda associated with a deadly war where agit-prop tactics were central to the activities of all sides. The “sides” include liberals, radicals and humanists whose ideological commitments sometimes clouded judgment and ability to assess ground realities.

No one is free of subjectivity. So all subjectivities and readings have to be put to the test. This includes the claims — whether related quietly or histrionically — by grieving relatives. Their power of conviction and force of telling — just study some of the pictures — does not gaurantee truth of tale. They could have been misled or been primed by agit-prop stories that have been imbibed, absorbed and are now, today, retailed powerfully and with truth effect. The point here is that GRIEF can distort interpretation and that sympathetic hearts can be misled. A clinical approach must adhere to pragmatism in due measure.

disappearances --Pic WSWS 04-alternative2013-01-30 19.34.38 ++ Continue reading

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Groundviews on Disappearances and the OMP

MISSING -GV 22

Raisa Wickrematunga: “Searching for Answers: The Road to the OMP,” 30 August 2016, https://groundviews.org/2016/08/30/searching-for-answers-the-road-to-the-omp/

Bhavani Fonseka: “The Office on Missing Persons: A New Chapter or Another Empty Promise?” 18 August 2016, https://groundviews.org/2016/08/18/the-office-on-missing-persons-a-new-chapter-or-another-empty-promise/

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Embittered Tamilness as a Problem for Reconciliation in Sri Lanka

 Michael Roberts[1] … courtesy of the Colombo Telegraph, where the title is “Embittered Tamilness on Display. The cCase of Robert Perinpanayagam”

ROBERT S PERINRobert Sidharthan Perinbanayagam[2] was a senior at Ramanathan Hall when I walked through its portals at Peradeniya Campus in 1957. He pursued an Honours Degree in Sociology and went on to secure his Ph. D. in Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Minnesota. He taught at Hunter College in New York and has a clutch of books with respected publishers on symbolic interaction and the sociology of knowledge, with The Karmic Theater: Self, Society and Astrology in Jaffna, Sri Lanka (1982) serving as the principal work relating to his home ground.

gamesandsportRobert’s father was Handy Perinpanayagam, an erudite and respected teacher in Jaffna, who was a moving spirit behind the Jaffna Youth Congress in the 1930s (see Russell 1982 & Rajan Philips 2012). Perinpanayagam Senior was a Leftist whose activism placed him outside the reaches associated with GG Ponnambalam and the Tamil Congress and also at some distance from the Federal Freedom Party led by SJV Chelvanayakam. Continue reading

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David Miliband’s Imperious Intervention in Lanka left in Tatters

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[1] 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 Ambilipitiyasits on April 29, 2009. British foreign minister David Miliband and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner who are in Sri Lanka for a one-day visit have failed to secure an agreement from Sri Lanka to end an offensive against Tamil rebels and allow humanitarian access to civilians trapped by the fighting. AFP PHOTO/HO/Sri Lankan Presidential office RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE GETTY OUT (Photo credit should read HO/AFP/Getty Images)

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

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The MISSING in the War Years: A Cumulative Bibliography as Aide

Michael Roberts

Let me begin with Rajasingham Narendran’s harrowing tale describing the moment when he returned to his home in the Jaffna Peninsula after the IPKF’s imperial occupation of the north in 1987: “My mother: 68-year old at the time of her killing. Slim build. Had been attacked by animals and crows and was in an advanced state of decay. My brother: 38-year old at the time of his death. neither obese or thin. Body intact though bloated. The gardener: Age approx. 60 years. Obese. All flesh had fallen off and the skeleton was clearly visible. A neighbour’s watchman: Age approx. 60 years. medium build. Only thigh bones-femurs and the skull remained. The rest of the body had been consumed or carried away by animals.”

   NARIYA 1 A jackal feeding on a buffalo carcass at Kumana -April 2014–Pic by Roberts missing= Photo by Eranga Jayawardena A Tamil lady in search of a missing kinswoman–Pic by Eranga Jayawardena in Groundviews

This is just one corpus of fact and tale that will have to be evaluated by the unit that is envisaged by the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms set up by the present government. If one visits the web site where the SCRM seeks submissions from the public, you will be led to “Boxes” where you can present ideas and/or information. The set of Boxes numbered 9 [nine] has this request: “The government has decided to set up An Office of Missing Persons. What measures should the office take to address the issue of the missing?” Continue reading

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Saving Talaivar Pirapāharan

  Michael Roberts, courtesy of the Colombo Telegraph, at https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/attempts-to-rescue-pirapaharan-et-al-in-2009/ — where the title is Attempts To Rescue Pirapāharan et al in 2009″

         ONE: Saving Private Ryan[1]

Stephen Spielberg’s blockbuster film “Saving Private Ryan” was a fictional war film that was as dramatic as effective because of its realistic portrayal of the horrors of war, notably the D-Day landings. The realism was rendered feasible by the availability of solid accounts of the D-Day invasion that included film footage. In contrast any review of the efforts made to save the LTTE leader, or talaivar, Velupillai Pirapāharan (also presented as Prabhākaran) has to negotiate the murky world of international politics and its whispers.

TOM HANKS Fig. 1 =Tom Hanks as Private Ryan

SAVING PR Fig. 2= Scene from Saving Private Ryan

    PRABHA + Tiger  Fig. 3=an early image of Pirapāharan Continue reading

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