Category Archives: Rajapaksa regime

The Death Toll in 2009: Deceit and Myopia, International and Lankan

 Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph which  accepted the idea in principle several days ago, but requested a division of the essay into six parts.

Discussion of the death toll during Eelam War IV and the related topic of “The Disappeared” has been marked by collective myopia. Most discussions have dwelt in cloud cuckoo-land. This criticism can be levelled at the witch-hunters in the Western international order (whether UN and Western officials, media personnel or Tamil migrants) as well as the liberal humanists within the Sri Lankan middle class supporting a range of allegations. However, it also applies to analysts and reporters in defense of the realm such as Rohan Gunaratna,[1] Shamindra Ferdinando,[2] the editors of Sri Lanka’s print and internet media and many defenders of the Sri Lankan dispensation in its moment of crisis.

 1=Tiger dead assembled by SL Army (MoD Pic)    2 = A body in the Last Redoubt, presumably Tiger (MoDefence Pic)

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Amnesty International Agitation: Bowling Googlies for the LTTE?

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.”

 Francis Boyle Yolande Foster & ??

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A Down-to-Earth Review of E-War IV and Its Literature

Michael Roberts, courtesy of an original article in 29 October 2015 in Sinhalanet with the title “Down-to-Earth: The Hard Truths of Eelam War IV” … a work that I could not have written in 2009 because I had to transcend  my office-room background and it has taken time todevelop a sharper understanding of the situation. That said, I am still limtied by my ilack of battle theatre experience.

“Just as in Kosovo if enough civilians died in Sri Lanka the world would be forced to step in” – Pulidevan of LTTE to a pal in Europe (quoted in Harrison 2012: 63).

Guided by a series of studies that I have indulged in over the years 2010-15, let me summarize my findings in point form. The focus is on the period 2008-to-May 2009.  However, four facets of the broad historical context must be stressed initially: (I) Prabhākaran had one goal only: Eelam and a separate state; (II) the LTTE used two ceasefire periods in 1995 and 2001-06 as recuperating periods for renewal of their war effort; (III) as Ben Bavinck and the UTHR reports have insisted, Thamilīlam under Prabhākaran was a fascist state; and (IV) the Rajapaksa government which struggled for survival against the LTTE proved the validity of the Marxist dictum that there is an unity in any contradiction: it  became distinctly authoritarian itself, albeit still populist in its self-convictions.

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Christopher Hitchens in Perceptive Reading of the LTTE Defeat in May 2009

Christopher Hitchens,in Slate, 25 May 2009, where the title is “The End of the Tamil Tigers” … and where the chief by-line saysInsurgencies don’t always have history on their side” … See my brief NOTE at the end re the late Christopher Hitchens and note that the  highlights are my imposition

In the late fall of 1978, I was approached by a Sri Lankan Tamil rights group, which visited the office of the socialist weekly in London where I was then working and entreated me to pay a visit to their country. I say “their” country, though they actually referred to it as “Ceylon”: the British colonial name that continued to be the country’s name after independence in 1948. It was only changed in 1972. The word Lanka is simply the name for island in Sanskrit, and the prefix Sri has a connotation of holiness, and the alteration generally reflected the aspirations and preferences of the Sinhalese-speaking and Buddhist majority. So the difference in emphasis there was pretty large to begin with.

 Sri Lankan soldiers with the remains of what’s said to be Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran = pic & caption as in SLATE

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American Power, American Shambles — Lanka 2009

Two Insights from the Sri Lankan scenario in early 2009 during the last stages of  Eelam War IV which I re-discovered in going through an essay based on a Skype chat with Gotabaya Rajapaksa and investigation among the US Embassy despatches to Washington open to the world via Wikieaks

A = Ambassador Robert Blake to Gota: “We are Americans. We will teach them a lesson and even bomb them if need be.” –– in response to Gotabaya’s scepticism about the Tiger leadership’s readiness to accept international intervention to save the threatened civilian  population in the remnant LTTE stronghold on the coastal shores abutting Nandikadal Lagoon [in the course of an amiable conversation on either the 11th or 15th April 2009

 

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The Games that the Almighty Play: Syria Now, Sri Lanka Then

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka, from The Island, 10 April 2017, where the title is “Watching Syria, seeing Sri Lanka” … highlighting in this presentation being my workas Editor …. and with further Commentary and Bibliographic References at the end

It was not easy to watch the proceedings on Friday April 7 that the UN Security Council’s emergency ‘open session’ on Syria without thinking of Sri Lanka, although the actual circumstances of the UN’s engagement with the two countries are very different. Only one thing seemed alarmingly similar. It seemed like a set up. US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s dramatic gesture of holding up photographs of chemical-gassed children only served to bring to mind the now famous theatrical display of a vial of anthrax by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the same venue to warn the Council of the imminent danger that lay before the world from WMDs in Iraq.

Image #: 24024242 Pigeons lie on the ground after dying from what activists say is the use of chemical weapons by forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad in the Damascus suburbs of Arbeen August 24, 2013. Picture taken August 24, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Dar (SYRIA – Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT ANIMALS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) REUTERS /STRINGER /LANDOV

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Mighty USA and the Israel Lobby in This Our World

I  sent Kamal Wickremasinghe’s article to several individuals who have a better grounding than myself in the complex jungle of international politics and Christopher Black has responded immediately to indicate that Wickramasinghe has muddled his emphasis by arguing that the Israeli tail wags the dog. In his view — presented here at the end — it is the other way about: USA calls the shots. Michael Roberts as Editor, Thuppahi.

Kamal Wickremasinghe: “Cabals behind the UNHRC inquisition,”  Island, Midweek Review, 28 March 2017

The 34th sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have just ended, and another resolution on Sri Lanka adopted Resolution A/HRC/34/L.1 requests the Commissioner and his special procedure mandate holders to strengthen their technical assistance to Sri Lanka on the promotion and protection of human rights, truth, justice, reconciliation and accountability. More importantly perhaps, the resolution calls for a written update on the implementation of resolution 30/1 (of 2015) at the 37th session of the UNHRC, and a comprehensive report at its 40th session. These requirements are clearly designed to keep Sri Lanka ‘on the leash’ for the foreseeable future. Needless to say it was the hand of the global enforcer, the US that was behind these impositions on Sri Lanka. The foreign minister, in co-sponsoring the junk resolution with the self-appointed imperium may have thought, cynically, that it will soon be someone else’s problem anyway!

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