Category Archives: war crimes

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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Disappearances and Torture in Lanka, 2009-16: A Bibliography

Michael Roberts

 a-z-torture  t-for-temperature

In reviewing the blog comments on my short memo on “Sinhala Mind-Set” during the years 2009-15,  I was induced to place a claim by one “Flloyd” before about eighty of friends and others in my email address list in order to evaluate his assertion in April 2013 that “the Tamils continue to be tortured, raped, and killed by the state.” Though reading this particular charge as far too sweeping, I set out to test my reading. In my thinking this claim gained weight from the fact that the rest of Flloyd’s commentary suggested that he was not an extremist.

Some 23 individuals – including 5 Tamils, 1 Irishman,1 Colombo Chetty and 2 Indians — have responded, albeit briefly in several instances (with a few endorsing  my suggestion that it is a sweeping exaggeration).. This item is now on web. One of those who commented, the Telugu Indian journalist Muralidhar Reddy has been kind enough to send me a private note from his location (now in India) that runs thus: “This turned out to be a very good exercise. Productive, useful and frankness from the heart of real people who were or are still on the ground.”

In pursuit of further value, I now present a BIBLIOGRAPHY on the topic of disappearances that amplifies previous efforts – one that has been assisted by the recent exercise. Note that I have not embraced items that focus specifically on rape in this exercise. Ii is a standard practice in agit-prop action from anti-state activists[1] as well as foreign reporters on brief excursions to the island to bracket “disappearances, torture and rape” together. Such an ‘alliance’ brings feminists on board and illuminates the halo around any writer’s head. Continue reading

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Two Sri Lankan Tamil Voices from the North Today

Frances Bulathsinghala, courtesy of Daily FT, 5 August 2016, where the title reads “Post-war voices from the north.” The emphases in highlighted colours, however, are additions by The Editor, Thuppahi

Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu: Rajini is 46 years old and an ex-LTTE Commander with a 10-year-old daughter. She is a widow. She has few visitors. Tamil politicians are rarely among them.  Occasionally she chases off military officers who enter her premises in her absence and make themselves at home for hours in her garden. She flies into a rage at them. She informs them that they have no right to enter her garden in her absence. They accept, grin, make some lame excuses and good-naturedly lope off after the cursory examination of the military reference documentation that is as important for ex-militants in post-war times as it was for civilians in peace times. 

It is peace. At least there is no gunfire now. Of the memories of fire that continue to burn in hearts and minds we do not know.

fb-ranjini

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What Trump may bring to the US Table on Sri Lanka in contrast with Clinton’s ”Humanitarian Imperialist Cloak”

Daya Gamage, courtesy of Asian Tribune, where the title reads “Trump – Tamil Diaspora Eelam Activists & Sri Lanka Trajectory”

When asked about the implications of the ongoing purge – immediately following the abortive military coup in Turkey – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump echoed: What right do we in the United States have to criticize the condition of human rights elsewhere? Here’s Trump: “I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country. We have tremendous problems when you have policemen being shot in the streets, when you have riots, when you have Ferguson. When you have Baltimore. When you have all of the things that are happening in this country — we have other problems, and I think we have to focus on those problems. When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.” donald-trump_3 hillary-11-business-indider

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Sri Lanka’s Grim Prospects with Hilary Clinton as President: Looking at Potentialities in June 2016

Padraig Colman, writing in Ceylon Today 30 June 2016, with the title President Hillary Clinton and Sri Lanka”

It is hard to imagine what a Donald Trump presidency might bode for Sri Lanka because Trump makes a virtue of avoiding fixed positions on foreign policy – and he lies. We might surmise that Hillary Clinton as president would probably be bad for Sri Lanka because we can examine her track record as Secretary of State at the time that GOSL (Government of Sri Lanka) was trying to defeat the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

clinton-in-gujarat see https://www.gg2.net/news/usa-news/US+firm+to+build+reactors+in+Gujarat+/2913

Clinton chaired the UN Security Council session on September 30 2009 when it adopted Resolution 1888, which dealt with conflict-related sexual violence. The official transcript of her address contained this: “We’ve seen rape used as a tactic of war before in Bosnia, Burma, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. In too many countries and in too many cases, the perpetrators of this violence are not punished, and so this impunity encourages further attacks.” This is not an off-the-cuff remark – she was reading a prepared speech to a session of which she was the chair. Continue reading

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The Terrain of War: Ahmed and Thiranagama. From Outside and Inside

aa-bart-of-melbBart Klem, a Review Essay courtesy of South Asia Multidisciplinary Journal, at https://samaj.revues.org/3853 where the title is “Victory’s Categories, Contingent Histories: Re-visiting Sri Lanka’s Ethno-separatist War”  …the books under review being (A)  Ahmed Hashim (2013) When Counterinsurgency Wins: Sri Lanka’s Defeat of the Tamil Tigers, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 280 pages. (B) Sharika Thiranagama (2011) In my Mother’s House: Civil War in Sri Lanka, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 320 pages.

aa-ahmed aa-thiranagama

Ahmed Hashim’s When Counterinsurgency Wins (2013) and Sharika Thiranagama’s In my Mother’s House (2011) may appear similar at first sight. Both books look back on Sri Lanka’s ethno-separatist war; both pay close attention to the rise and fall of Tamil militancy; and both are published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. However, in crucial ways, they are opposites. Hashim’s book is a military analysis focusing on the Sri Lankan government’s victorious campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Thiranagama’s is an ethnographic account of how Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Muslim society were irreversibly transformed by the war.

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Tirimanne’s and Kohona’s Talks at GENEVA AND YOU …..for You Sri Lankans

Supplementing the previous presentations (see Bibliography at end) and presenting textual versions of speeches also available on YouTube…. Emphasis has been tacked on by the Editor via highlighting.

geneva-and-you gyou-11

ONE:  Fr. Vimal Tirimanne

“There is neither legal nor moral justification for ‘War Crime’ probes in Sri Lanka” In this presentation, I wish to point out that the so-called “international” probe on the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, namely, the defeating militarily of what the FBI called “the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world” has neither legal nor moral justification. Thereafter, a word about the need to be doubly cautious when we use negatively loaded terms such as “genocide”, “war crimes”. Finally, I would point out that the enigmatic role played by the present Sri Lankan government at the UNHRC with regard to the “war crimes” episode is bound to boomerang on Sri Lanka as a nation, sooner or later. Continue reading

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