How dare the Tamils of the diaspora, or any one else compare the Government Welfare Centres in Vanni, to Concentration Camps ?
The Human Righgts watch and ICRC making statements supportive of the terrorists are responsible for giving a life line to the terrorists who had today killed 70 of our soldiers and 200 of the misled youth
terrorist . Why cannot these “all knowing” wise gangs of the ICRC and the Humans rights watch, condemn out right the terrorists ( who they dare not call terrorists) and ask them to surrender to the government forces and allow the civilians to escape into the government controlled areas and safety ?
I listened to Ms.Anna Niestat of the human rights watch at a TV debated between two Canadian Tamils of the diaspora, representing the LTTE terrorists, and a Sinhala and a Tamil Canadians representing the Government point of view. It was heartening to see a Sinhala (Yapa) and a Tamil (Benedict) speaking against the terrorists.
Ms. Niestat was brought into give her point of view as a representative of the Human Rights Watch. She has nothing new to say other than playing the same old record of shooting of civilians in the no fire Zone and keeping the IDPs in temporary camps fortified and guarded by gun carrying soldiers. And repeating the falsehood of a hospital bombarded by the Government Air Force.
She knows next to nothing, about any thing else. She does not seem to know the terrorists, nor the civilians. She does not seem to know the history and the culture of either the Tamils nor the Sinhala. During the debate one of the pro terrorists Tamils (David) said that the Sinhala people do not respect the culture of the Tamils.
When the moderator asked Ms.Niestat of the HRW what she has to say about the destruction of the Tamil culture by the Sinhala, she made a grimace and said she does not know any thing about that aspect of the conflict but she is there to speak of the violation of human rights, and added that while the debate is going on there are many civilians being killed in Wanni.
The pro-terrorist Tamil (David) participating in the debate was ignorant of the history and culture of the Sri Lankans be it the Tamils or the Sinhala, which he attempted to defend. He attempted to condemn the Sinhala for having a flag with nothing to represented the Tamils. When Asoka Yapa said that the Tamils are represented on the flag with the orange strip on the side, David jumped to protest saying that it is very small compared to the Lion taking most of the place. Yapa replied that only 8 percent of the Tamils could not claim half of the flag to represent them.
The Human rights watch get their half baked information from the Tamils of the diaspora who seem themselves to have only a limited knowledge. It is like a blind, leading a blind. Ms.Niestat’s contention is that the IDPs escaping from a dangerous situation is herded into strongly guarded camps denying them the freedom to movie about.
Niestat refuses to understand the ruthlessness of the terrorists who are only seeking to enter these camps and cause a massive destruction to discredit the Government Forces. Therefore these welfare centres are well guarded against a possible intrusion by the terrorists.
The freedom of movement between camps are also restricted for this reason. Niesta also says that it was the Sri Lanka Armed forces that shoot at the Tamil Civilians coming into the no fire Zone. No one with any intelligence will believe her, as the government will not declare a no fire Zone to help the Tamil Civilians to escape into it and then shoot into them once they are in the no fire zone.
There are again those who compare these welfare centres where the IDPs are housed as concentration camps. This shows how ignorant they are to compare these welfare centres to concentration camps. It is an insult to those millions of Jewish people of the holocaust who died under terrible conditions. The Tamils of the diaspora should be more respectful in their use of terms like concentration camps, and genocide..
The concentration camps of the Hitler were the places where most inhuman conditions unthinkable by any one who had not gone through those harrowing experiences could even imagine. The worst conditions any where in the world cannot (and should not) be compared to the conditions of those poor people who were made to suffer and die in Nazi Concentration Camps.
Nine to 11 million Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russian POWs, and handicapped people died in these camps. The Jewish people were packed into railway carriages without seats, lights ,or windows. They were transported to the Concentration Camps in Auschwitz etc, from every town of Europe, in railway carriage without seats, lights or windows stacked like animals . Some of them died of suffocation in side the carriages. On arrival family members were taken away from each other. The children, men and women were separated. Their clothes were removed and burnt. The jewelry such as rings, necklaces, bangles , ear rings, were removed, gold separated from silver.
Men and women were sorted according to health and strength, and driven into queues to works like slaves most often without food or water. Some were sent to medical centres, to be cut , operated and experimented while they were still alive.
The rest were herded into large empty rooms, under the pretext of giving them a shower, until the room was full without enough space for them even to move. Once inside the rooms were closed and barricaded.Then the German guards opened the gas which seeped into the room through the overhead funnels that looked like ordinary showers. They were kept imprisoned in the gas chambers until every one of them had died.
Thereafter the bodies were sorted out some being used for experiments. Some of them skinned to make lamp shades, and other items of utility. The rest were put in to burners. These bodies continued to burn day after day, night after night. The skies were clouded with the smoke of the burning bodies.
These were Concentration Camps of which some Tamils of the diaspora write lightly about. Ms. Niestat, Karen Parker, and other human Rightists too shamelessly make indirect reference to Concentration camps in describing the welfare Centres in Vanni.
It is only the Tamil Civilians who are now in these camps could describe the relief , and satisfaction of being in these Welfare Centres after their experience with the terrorists.
SRI LANKA UNITED NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CANADA Box 55292, 300 Borough Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M1P 4Z7
07 March 2009
Hon. Eric Solheim
Minister of Environment and International Development
Dear Mr. Eric Solheim,
We thank you for your note of today’s date and your concern for the entrapped civilians forcibly held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers, to form a human shield against the advancing Sri Lankan Security Forces carrying out their duty of regaining the usurped territory from a band of armed terrorists to extend the writ of the democratic and sovereign state of Sri Lanka.
The Government of Sri Lanka had previously called a 48 hour ceasefire to allow the civilians to move out of the combat zone to safety within government controlled territory where they could be cared for with the assistance of the UNHCR and the ICRC till such time as they could be re-settled in their former places of residence, but the LTTE blatantly attacked the civilians thereby preventing them from leaving the area. This position has been stated by the nearly 35000 civilians who braved such attacks to escape from the tyranny of the Tamil Tigers, and same confirmed by the UN Agencies and ICRC having access to civilians both inside and outside the remaining LTTE controlled territory. Even Human Rights Watch affirms this situation based on reports reaching them. We would also like to quote from a statement issued by the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) made up of Tamil academics, on the developments in the region:
University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) gave an impartial account on the Sri Lankan situation to the IANS News Service. While the H.R.W. Report demanded a cease fire and peace talks, the UTHR (Jaffna) observed, “… Presently, the indications we have are that the people want an end to the war but are wary of peace talks and cease fires with the LTTE… Previous peace talks had only given oxygen and a free run to the LTTE…” Referring to the ruthless behaviour of LTTE cadres and shooting of escaping civilians the UTHR (Jaffna) commented “… generally the behaviour of the soldiers at entry points has been exceptionally good…”.
We call on you as a key member of the Norwegian Government which played a role in the facilitation of a peace process, where the LTTE was erroneously recognized as the sole representative of the Tamil community, where a farcical ceasefire continued from 2002, during which time the LTTE was ruled by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) made up of Scandinavian representatives, to have violated the CFA on 3830 occasions in the first five years including the killing of over 400 soldiers, civilians and leading officials such as the distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs, the late Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar, in addition to the abduction and forcible recruitment of nearly 6000 underage children to their fighting units as reported by UNICEF, to rethink of the ineffectiveness of the entire process which was used by the LTTE to rearm and build up their forces to pursue their goal of establishing a racist fascist separate state called “Eelam” for their exclusive governance by breaking up the island nation of Sri Lanka. Our open letter of June 20, 2006 addressed to the Editor of the Aftenposten in Oslo (copy attached), where we outlined the partisan conduct of Norway which contributed to the bolstering of an internationally designated terrorist movement, that was to a great extent the cause for encouraging the LTTE to seek violent means to reach their objective including suicide terrorism even against civilians, as there was no mechanism to bring them to book other than adding one more violation to their scorecard maintained by the SLMM, and ofcourse the usual call of the ‘Co-Chairs’ to get back to the negotiating table. You would therefore understand the position of the Government of Sri Lanka which patiently adhered to the CFA terms for a period of over four years deciding to withdraw from the lopsided and failed agreement to deal with the LTTE in the only language that they understood, to do away with the wasteful exercise of bogus negotiations in order to retaliate against offensive moves of the LTTE commencing around December 2005 in Muhamale, later in July 2006 in Mavil Aru, Muttur and Sampur, to rid the country of the terrorist menace that took over 70,000 lives, maimed thousands and destroyed an inestimable amount of valuable property during the last three decades.
We are more distressed than you about the inhumane manner in which the Tamil civilian population of the Vanni who are part of the Sri Lankan people are currently being forced to form a human shield for the cowardly LTTE and even forced to take up arms to defend the terrorist leaders who are cornered in a tiny sliver of jungle terrain, which is a serious violation of human rights and a war crime that must be taken up strongly by the international community. We are glad that you have not ventured to give a count of the total number of civilians who are being forcibly held back by the Tigers, as the numbers are well below HRW and other INGO estimates of 250,000 to 300,000, which is the inflated number given by the relief agencies to obtain enhanced funding for their questionable operations where they have been found to have neglected the civilians in their desire to collaborate with the LTTE in bolstering their armed capabilities. A Catholic priest who recently escaped from the LTTE area had put the figure around 50,000 civilians, with the maximum being placed at 70,000 recently by most observers.
Whilst we appreciate your concern, we call on you to use your influence with the Tamil Tigers for whom you have provided many facilities in Norway to give a firm undertaking that they would honour a temporary no-fire period and allow the free movement of the civilian population including any sick or wounded under supervision of the ICRC within the time frame to be agreed upon, and ensure that they would not harm those civilians opting to move into areas controlled by the government where all their food, water, medical care, accommodation and other needs could be met. We also note that you have been in touch with other members of the Co-Chairs, namely the powerful countries such as the USA, EU, Japan and other key international actors in this regard, and trust that you are in a position to ask from them that they will jointly guarantee that the LTTE would honour such an agreement before the Government of Sri Lanka agrees to your proposal. In the alternative, you could demand that the LTTE lay down its arms including its diminishing stockpile of weapons and unconditionally surrender themselves to the custody of the Sri Lankan authorities and bring their maniacal adventure to an end, which will free the civilians to resume normal lives and create the environment to allow democracy to return to the region.
We trust that our suggestion in the penultimate paragraph are worthy of your consideration and that of your powerful international partners, and we earnestly hope that you will be able to act to safeguard the civilians who are compelled to submit themselves to the brute force of the Tamil Tigers even at this very late stage.
With best wishes.
—– Original Message —–
From: Solheim Erik
Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2009 11:06 AM
Subject: RE: Entrapped Civilians Brave Tamil Tiger Bullets to Seek Safety
Dear Mr Mahinda Gunasekera,
Thank you for your e-mail about the situation in Sri Lanka. I greatly appreciate your concern. Like you, I am distressed by the suffering of the civilian population.
Norway has condemned the fighting and the unacceptable suffering it is causing the civilian population. Norway is continuously urging the parties to agree on a temporary no-fire period. This would allow the sick and wounded to be evacuated. Humanitarian organisations must be ensured safe access so they can provide food, water and medical assistance to the civilian population in the conflict area.
In our contact with the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers, we underscore their responsibility for taking immediate measures to protect civilians and acting in accordance with international humanitarian law. We are cooperating closely with the US, the EU, Japan and other key international actors on this matter.
With best wishes
Minister of the Environment and International Development
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat and Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights in Sri Lanka06 March 2009
During the Interactive Debate on the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva yesterday, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat and Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, commented on remarks made by Non-Governmental Organisations. His statement is carried below.Mr President, let me begin by thanking those Non-Governmental Associations that put in such a sterling performance last evening, running the whole gamut of emotions from A to B. Until they spoke, given the adult approaches with regard to Sri Lanka of the many countries that addressed this assembly yesterday, and the helpful meetings we had with so many responsible authorities, I was thinking that my staying on in a freezing Geneva was a waste of time and energy and money. This last was particularly upsetting, for we are a poor country, and our taxpayers cannot really afford the exorbitant rates for hotels that our well funded NGO colleagues find negligible.At some stage, Mr President, if this privileging of the claims of the unaccountable finger pointers continues, I hope that, in the interests of the economic and social rights of the poor, you will take steps to have sittings of this Council in more affordable settings. Meanwhile let me respond to some of the more outrageous claims of our irresponsible friends, and request Her Excellency the High Commissioner to look further into a response on our websites to a longer effusion from Human Rights Watch, which they referred to in their performance yesterday.
I used the word irresponsible, and all I can say is that Human Rights Watch, which refused a meeting with me in Geneva, should really refrain from pronouncements about Sri Lanka made with no reference to any Sri Lankans. Instead they cite several great white authorities, which turn out to be the same authority. HRW refers to a BBC report, which we have shown to be fraudulent in another release on our websites that I trust you will enjoy reading. That report dramatised an interview with an ICRC official who the ICRC told me had been misquoted. ICRC have now put up the text of the interview on their website, and it shows just how misleading the BBC version was.
HRW then quotes the United Nations and one of its spokesmen, Gordon Weiss, but the head of UNDP says – and I quote from an SMS – that ‘he was oddly misquoted. A visiting AP journalist in town for one week spoke to him. He referred him to the ICRC report of several days ago, and then the journalist attributed it to GW. Then HRW issued a statement quoting from AP!’ Since then I have been told by the UN that the reference was, not to the ICRC report, for there was none, but to ‘the quote as referred to in the BBC story’.
Mr President, Sri Lanka strongly condemns these attempts by interested parties to damage the good relations between Sri Lanka and its partners by such deliberate or culpably careless misquoting. The ICRC and the UN do good work under difficult circumstances, and agencies such as Human Rights Watch with nothing better to do must not waste their time and ours in pursuing clarifications.
And this coterie of self-sustaining hysterics is the press that our more circumspect friends in Amnesty International want us to take to the conflict zone. Mr President, we are concerned about our people, and we do not need to be told by people who think that cluster bombs come out of the barrel of a gun how to look after our own. Read the ICRC reports, discuss them with us, but do not think that you know more than people who have to account financially and at elections for their actions. We are aware that the Western press is sensationalistic and confrontational, we do not blame them for that since it is a result of cultural conditioning, but when it includes allegations that are made use of by terrorists, then really some moral self-questioning should be in order.
Mr President, I have important things to do back at home rather than playing Sherlock Holmes in a cold and comfortless Geneva, finding out the origins and the rationale for falsehoods. I should be working on rehabilitation and education and empowerment for people who have suffered for so long from terrorism, but unfortunately people take Human Rights Watch seriously, and unless their distortions are dealt with, I might well – as the only person they named in their last diatribe against Sri Lanka – soon be hauled up before the International Criminal Court, and have to spend time in an even more cold climate.
Mr President, there are problems in Sri Lanka that we need to solve. We look forward to the cooperation of serious countries and serious people such as the High Commissioner to improve matters. But we also want concerted action to ensure that the civilians now held hostage by the LTTE are set free. I want that, you want that, he and she and it want that, we want that, the LTTE are the only people who don’t want that.
So why this coyness about naming them? Indeed, while Human Rights Watch does mention them, in pretending that a democratically elected government and totalitarian terrorists are as bad as each other, the other NGOs, like Victorians with a love that dare not speak its name, do not even mention the terrorism from which we suffer. In the long run though, perhaps that is preferable to what seems the main point of all recent Human Rights Watch assaults on us, the demand that we reach agreement with the LTTE, thus restoring respectability to terrorists.
Is this balance? Is this basic decency? This Council, Mr President, should not be about pompous pronouncements from people who cannot even bother to check their references, and think terrorism should reap rewards for its intransigence. This Council is intended to improve the Human Rights of your people and my people and our people, not to provide platforms for those with more money than sense, and swell the coffers of the Geneva hoteliers, whose charm as they made their money Victorian novelists characterised so presciently over a century ago.
A reply to Caroll Bogert of Human Rights Watch , and an Invitation for Commonwealth Leaders to disregard her claim.
04 March 2009
Carroll Bogert, associate director of the US-based group Human Rights Watch, says innocent Sri Lankan villagers face war from two sides as they flee fighting between the militant Tamil Tigers and the government.
It is strange that in a world that is enmeshed in war, terrorism, and aggression, the Human Rights Watch finds violation of human rights only in Sri Lanka. Once it was Anna Niestat, giving evidence at the Foreign Relations Sub-committee who made an issue of violation of human rights, in placing the refugees escaping from terrorist controlled area into the government controlled areas in transition camps without allowing them freedom to move about. And now Ms.Caroll Bogert who asks the Commonwealth leaders to demand the Government of Sri Lank to improve its human rights records.
These Human rights Watch activists are a bigoted lot looking only at what seems to concern them, without posing question of how, what, and why. They are like the stray dog that smell a bone grab and runaway with it. That is their modus operandi without which they would be out of employment. They want prestige, making complaints against governments to world’s high forums.
They also have a tendency to show up only at a very crucial point of the conflict, when all along the line from the beginning of the conflict when possibilities of violation of human rights by any side to the conflict could have been stopped if and when appropriate action had been taken by them is well past. They let the wound fester instead of attending to it while it is still bloody and fresh.
They want a UN presence in the area of conflict to control violation of human rights. How can that help the solution to the problem ? The Human Rights Watch had established good relations with the terrorists and it is to them they should appeal to stop violation of human rights of the Tamil civilians. The INGOs posted in the terrorist controlled areas do not seem to have done their duty as it appears from the evidence discovered by the Government Armed Forces.
The developing countries lay trust and confidence on the white skinned helpers, without doubting that they could also be dishonest hypocrites. If the human rights watch “love” the poor Tamil people they should trust the government, if they do not trust the government then they trust the terrorists and they could not therefore “love”the Tamil people.
They accuse the Government of Sri Lanka for violation of human rights. What is violation of human rights in Sri Lanka ?
Is it the group of terrorists holding a whole population under gunpoint forcing them to stay with them so that the government forces trying to end terrorism that had caused endless suffering to the people for three decades, will fail in their efforts to eliminate terrorism by not shooting at the terrorists for fear of killing the civilians ?Or Is it the Government forces who had for two and a half years waged military operations against a ruthless group of terrorists, and to-day on the verge of eliminating terrorism in Sri Lanka and end the military operations with the least possible damage to the civilian population?
It is easy for the Human Rights Watch to accuse the Government Forces for violation of human rights, as they -the HRW do not give a “damn “ whether there is or no terrorism in Sri Lanka. That is not their problem. The terrorism in Sri Lanka for them takes another name- “Tamil Tigers” a liberation group. That is the whole crux of the situation.
They ignore the fact that terrorists cannot be given a period of a truce, as they are a ruthless group without any moral norms. If they are given a period of a truce, they will use that period to reorganise themselves and prepare for a come back equipped to defeat the armed forces. If that happens, the end of terrorism, which as it is today, a matter of a few days or a few weeks; will give place to a spring back of terrorism retaking the areas already captured by the army and continue another period of terror god knows for how long.
The country and the people have suffered long enough and therefore the government should not allow that to happen, whether the Human Rights Watch, or any other unthinking morons stand in the way of the Government, and finish off with the terrorism for ever.
It is a hard thing to say but even so, if a few more civilians were to die now in the course of military operations against the terrorists cornered in Mulativu, it is still worth it, if it is to end terrorism for ever, rather than give a further lease of life to terrorism to let the suffering of the people continue for few more decades, or result in the breaking away of a part of the territory for the setting up of a Fascist State.
Carroll Bogert is not interested in using her “grey matter” to think of such a possibility, as she does not believe in the existence of terrorists in Sri Lanka, as far as she is concerned there is only a violation of human rights of the Tamil people by the Government Forces.
That is where the Human Rights Watch and the Government of Sri Lanka are at cross purposes. For the Human Rights Watch terrorism that the Government of Sri Lanka fighting against is a phantom of the government’s imagination, a story made up to violate the human rights of the Tamil population.
The Human Rights Watch seems to think that Sri Lanka is a sort of a Banana State that could be made to dance to the tune of any Western “do gooder” .Sri Lanka is not short of them now. They come in various forms.
Of all developing countries Sri Lanka is undoubtedly the best place for the Human Rights Interventionists, ICRC, the UNHRC etc to get involved in as Sri Lanka is a more clean and a beautiful place with charming people and lovely sandy beaches and with restaurants run by Europeans. Sri Lanka is an ideal place to have an Office of these numerous humanitarian agencies to work in wonderful environment , or for a holiday or even to buy a piece of land and live there for ever.
Therefore, they leave out Israel, Gaza, Palestine , Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, or Darfur. They keep hovering over Sri Lanka checking on IDPs camps in Vavunia, Human Rights situation in Trincomlee, Batticaloa and get stationed in Colombo, and go to Unawatuna for a rest.Carroll Bogert’s assertion that the Sri Lanka government has ”a really appalling human rights record” is unfounded and reprehensible. She should not be allowed into the country as the presence of her ilk is detrimental to progress of any developing country.
In order to make the situation seem really dangerous and the work of the Human Rights Watch onerously difficult nevertheless important, they say that the civilian population forcibly detained by the “LTTE”
amounts to 200,000. One really wanders from where they got those statistics as the population in Mulativu did not even amount to 100, 000 and there had not been a census taken for more than two decades. If 40,000 people have come into the government held areas , the number of people held captive by the terrorists in Mulative is about 60,000.
In reality there had been no violation of human rights by the Government Forces in Sri Lanka, though there were many possibilities where human rights could have been violated. The Government Forces showed remarkable adroitness in avoiding all possibilities of damage to the lives of the Tamil Civil population living among the terrorists in the areas controlled by them, both in Air Force bombardments and artillery fire.
It is certainly not an exaggeration to say that the Government Forces of Sri Lanka are now well experienced, and ranks even better than the well equipped British or American Forces, in military operations against terrorism.
Therefore it is an affront to the Government of Sri Lanka and its Security Forces to level any accusation of violation of Human Rights by persons who have limited experience in life and know very little about the suffering of the people , and improving their conditions of living.
It is easy to criticise and point out instances of lapse of care , but to go all out to eliminate a cancer of terrorism that had eaten into the flesh and body of a country is a different matter all together.
Therefore it is appreciable if the Human Rights Watch mind their business for a while and allow the Government of Sri Lanka and its Government Forces to finish off a task which it is well on the way to end.
04 March 2009
The Kyrgyz Republic is a landlocked, mountainous country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China: in simple English, anyone without world domination ambitions will take little interest in this tiny, peaceful country.
But their tranquillity was disturbed rudely by the US warmongers at the beginning of the Afghanistan bombing campaign at the end of 2001. Their trouble began with the setting up of an US airbase in the capital Manas, as a vital transit point for military equipment and other supplies to Afghanistan, as it turns out, without the promised payments to the Kyrgyz government. Empire makers like Donald Rumsfeld who was ‘flying high’ at the time and was ‘negotiating’ with them, of course, could not care less about the wishes, rights and independence of the Kyrgyz people.
Widespread public discontent over the US military presence in Kyrgyzstan grew the last several years due to a number of disgraceful incidents involving the US servicemen: in late 2006, a US serviceman fatally shot a truck driver during a routine security check, with no American investigation or prosecution on the incident. The US also failed to adequately compensate Kyrgyzstan for $650,000 worth of damage caused by the collision of a US KC-135 tanker aircraft with a civilian plane. HRW was not making any noises about these violations.
After many years of unsuccessful attempts to get a fair deal, Kyrgyztan’s parliament finally voted overwhelmingly (78 to 1) on 19 February 2009, in support of the government-backed bill to cancel the lease agreement on the Manas air base. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed the bill, quick smart, making it law and an eviction notice was issued. The ‘mighty’ US has 180 days to vacate the base. The US stooge, leader of the Social Democrat party, Bakyt Beshimov who cast the single vote against (call him the Ranil Wickremesinghe of Kyrgyzstan), believed that ‘the decision to evict the Americans is premature.
The closure of the Manas airbase is ‘throwing the spanner in to the works’ the US had planned in Afghanistan: without this vital supply route, they will have to find an alternative overland supply route to Afghanistan. More than 75 percent of U.S. supplies currently go through Pakistan, where militant attacks are increasing rapidly, making it an unsafe route. Russia and Kazakhstan has agreed to allow transport of only ‘non-lethal’ supplies by their rail.
The obvious US disappointment was reflected in their reaction which was a pathetic attempt to link the closure to a Russian offer of $2.15 billion in aid and loans, a suggestion totally rejected by the Kyrgyz government, with a member of parliament announcing that ‘The decision to shut the American base reflects the will of the Kyrgyz people’.
Kyrgystan did not stop there: the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security refused entry in to the country of the Russian-based, so-called human rights ‘defender’ Vitalii Ponomarev (a HRW agent) upon his arrival at Manas airport, declared him ‘persona non grata’ and deported with orders not to come back. It was the second time in five months that the Kyrgyz authorities have refused entry to the ‘defender’ who dared to attempt entry in to Kyrgyzstan just a month after publishing a slanderous report about ‘religious persecution and torture’ in the country! This follows the similar deportation, in October 2008 of Ivar Dale, a Norwegian who claimed to represent the ‘Norwegian Helsinki Committee in Bishkek’, (how is that for a front?), barring him from Kyrgyzstan for 10 years.
Exploiting this incident, but in fact, expressing the US anger over the eviction, HRW jumped in to action on 26 February, with the ‘demand’ that the Kyrgyz government should reverse its decision to deport the spy! Holly Cartner (fancy name!), Europe and Central Asia director at HRW ‘ordered’ that ‘Instead of driving out human rights defenders the Kyrgyz government should be open to scrutiny of its human rights record,’ and reprimanded the Kyrgyz government: ‘more scrutiny, not less, will lead to positive change in Kyrgyzstan.’ This HRW busybody also blabbed that ‘Kyrgystan’s measures are contrary to the standards set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights ‘Defenders’, which requires states to respect, support and is protect them.
Targeting of this poor, decent country for HRW’s vile attacks, just a week after the eviction of the US airbase, is a classic example of its unethical, cynical, disgraceful and illegal attempts to use Human Rights as cover for its role as a US state department and CIA funded front to support the US geopolitical agenda.
Kyrgyztan provides a good example for all developing countries to follow: reject their noises and call their bluff without fear or hesitation.
To Human Rights Watch USA -Copy to Senator Kerry
By Ben Silva UK
03 March 2009
Terrorism, Sri Lanka and disinformation by HRW
It is indeed good to be concerned about the plight of fellow humans. In your case, it is not clear if your concern is genuine. First of all you have failed to identify who the real victim is and who the real culprit is. You are barking up the wrong tree if you are blaming the victim. Have you not understood that LTTE, one of the deadliest terror organisations in the world, [FBI] is attempting to carve out a part of Sri Lanka for a mono ethnic racist state ? LTTE is funded by global Tamils numbering about 100 million. The total number of Sinhalese in the world is about 16 million. The Sinhalese are fighting for survival, but are unfortunately loosing the propaganda war due to the numerical superiority of the Tamils and the superior wealth of the Tamils. By looking at the numbers and the wealth, the real underdog should be visible. However, Tamil terrorists are projecting the wrong image, supported by bogus human rights groups such as HRW, that they are the victims, when the real victims are the Sinhalese
The integrity of any report would be suspected and compromised if that report is based on inaccurate of falsified data. Your testimony to senator Kerry is based on inaccurate data. Many have said your data are simply lies.
Did you falsify data when you obtained your Doctorate ?
Are you good at ‘doctoring’ data to get the results you want?
The actions of HRW clearly indicate that HRW have not got the faintest idea about human rights. All they appear to do is fight for the rights of terrorists to continue their terrorism. In deed HRW probably stand for Human Right Wankers. Human Right Wankers is a better description of HRW.
HRW is a biased organisation and your reports are not worth the piece of paper, the reports are written on. You just make exaggerated reports, to generate sensationalism, to attract attention to generate funds for you. By the very nature you operate, your reports are biased and are worthless. How much of funding do you receive from LTTE or their agents? Hope UN and governments take notice of my comments.
Some people in Sri Lanka are so poor that they will say or do any thing for money. This is not unique for Sri Lanka, look at the corruption in USA. Recently, two young students were caught pimping fellow students (Yahoo news).
What has happened to morality , when Human rights groups start defending terrorists, probably for money ?
Has it ever occurred to you that the small ethnic group of Sinhalese are struggling to survive the racist empire building effort of global Tamils, numbering over 100 million. Have you been deceived, are you a racist yourself , or are you looking for LTTE funding?
The true situation in Sri Lanka is :
Rebels are forcibly conscripting civilians and trying to keep tens of thousands of others inside their territory as human shields, refugees said. ref: RAVI NESSMAN | Associated Press Writer, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-as-sri-lanka-civilian-fears,0,5180136.story. Further, UN visited Sri Lanka, with no complaints. UN in fact asked LTTE to release civilians held as a human shield.
LTTE is fighting to create a racist empire, the same way Hitler and the Nazi party did. The Sinhalese are fighting for survival.
The safety of our Tamil brothers and Sisters is the responsibility of all Sri Lankans and we will do our best to protect the innocent. The war in Sri Lanka is against terrorists and not against Tamils.
Let me enlighten you about the history of USA, in case you are not aware of it.
USA was founded on genocide and built on slavery. Innocent Native Americans were given blankets infested with small pox, and your ancestors used germ warfare to annihilate the native Indians, so that you could grab their land. Then Slaves were imported from Africa, under chains, in appalling conditions to build up USA. The wealth of USA was build up on slavery. Christians used the Bible to do a land grab in Africa. Corrupt NGO practices and their support to LTTE are well known in Sri Lanka. In fact some suspect that you have links with LTTE. LTTE has actually done what your ancestors did to native Americans. It is well documented that LTTE actually ethnically cleansed Muslims and Sinhalese from the areas they controlled. Do you love LTTE ,because they have learnt from you and carried out ethnic cleansing the same way as your ancestors did ?
Why don’t you worry about USA as it is your own home and much closer than Sri Lanka ? Is it because you get paid by your pay master LTTE? Do you really care about humans or human rights ?
USA has nuclear bombed civilians killing and incinerating thousands of civilians in Japan. USA has developed weapons of mass destruction and have actually used it. Shame on you! Some of us can actually see what you are up to!
Although you may be a terrorist supporter/Sympathiser, there are fortunately many Americans with moral values who are prepared to stand up for justice.
USA has invaded Vietnam, carried out shameless atrocities.
Western countries have funded the LTTE terrorists that are destroying Sri Lanka.
Please do not preach us human rights. Just give us a break from your destruction.
Your greed will cause global warming and eventually will destroy the world and destroy the human civilisation.
USA invaded Vietnam, carried out shameless atrocities. Remember My Lai, ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_massacre. Are you planning to invade Sri Lanka using false accusations, just like you used WMD in Iraq
Western Countries have a proven taste for carnage and killing of humans, as we see from their actions over the most recent years towards Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan etc (the list goes on)
Please get your house in order before you moan about others.
Deal with the 100000 deaths in Iraq, thousands of deaths in Afghanistan, torture in Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib using water boarding, sexual abuse etc. before you worry about Sri Lanka.
Are you that naive and clueless that you are unaware of world wars that has killed millions ? Are you unaware that fire bombing of Dresden killed thousands. Unfortunately, when firm steps are taken to defeat terrorism there would be collateral damage. The collateral damage would be far less than the deaths, if terrorists are allowed to continue. This argument has been used before and has been used by Western countries.
Even the recent limited attacks by Israel in Gaza killed over 1000 civilians.
If you are concerned about civilians, you could have campaigned to stop terrorists raising money, as without money there is no war.
In Sri Lanka, the collateral damage is tiny in comparison to that in Iraq. Sri Lankans respect human rights and they have values.
Please keep your terrorists under control. Please keep your crusade and do not destroy Sri Lanka or the world. Please deal with the human rights abuse of USA before you deal with the abuse of others.
1. Jane’s Intelligence Review. http://www.janes.com/press/press/pc070719_1.shtml
4. Tiger Tax Part 1 http://www.mefeedia.com/entry/3398206/
5. Tiger Tax part 2 http://beta.muxlim.tv/video/JwY5whNFLjA
6. Unreported World – Sri Lanka – part 3 – Ethnic cleansing of Muslims by LTTE. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiJTIL_3GaY&NR=1
7. The facts about so called discrimination http://www.spur.asn.au/facts.htm
8. Chola Dynasty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chola
9. Genicide http://www.island.lk/2009/02/12/features1.html
10. Paul Harris on LTTE http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2006/6/7517_image_headline.html
11. How the Tigers beat the Sri Lankan government http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/5889
12. Real storey behind Tamil Tigers http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2008/2/24775_space.html
13. Race based devolution – Beginning of the end of Sri Lanka
19. Tamil Tigers ‘target civilians’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7893201.stm
20 Religious leaders ask Secretary Clinton to assert U.S. influence in Sri Lanka
Hearings of the USA Foreign Relations sub Committee on Sri Lank was a trial at bar without the Accused being called to defend.
01 March 2009
The Great American Nation has been awakened. The American people wanted a change to what it had been during the past 8 years. For that change the American People have elected a new President with a New Vision for America. He is the President Barrack Obama. The 44th American President. A President of America, the people of the world looked forward to have.
President Barrack Obama spells change. He does not want America to be aggressive, but friendly, He dos not want America to be proud and arrogant , but humble and generous. He does not want an America dictating terms to the world, but an American that listens and understands. He does not want an America aloof and indifferent, but cordial and caring.
But old habits are difficult change. The President Barrack Obama extended his hand to his friends and foes to unite with him not for his own sake but for the sake of the American people.. But the Republicans remain chillingly indifferent. They do not want change.They are still arrogant and intolerant.
The world too expects this change the President Barrack Obama had promised, reflected in all dealings the American Administration has with the Nations of the World. But unfortunately this change was lacking in the recent hearings of the Foreign Relations Sub Committee on recent developments in Sri Lanka.
The Sub Committee was Chaired by Robert Casey Jr. the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Sub Committee. He was Assisted by two Senators.The Committee had called as witnesses to recent developments in Sri Lanka a former Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mr. Jeffrey Lunstead, the Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists Mr.Bob Dietz, and Ms.Anna Niestat of the Human Rights Watch.
The three witnesses are persons prejudiced against the Government of Sri Lanka, and well known for their stand against the military operations of the Government of Sri Lanka against a ruthless group of terrorists, banned in the USA itself. Watching the session of hearing by the Sub Committee, one wondered what good it is establishing Diplomatic relations with America, if the American Administration on an hearing by the Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on an important issue concerning Sri Lanka did not see it fit to invite the Sri Lanka Ambassador to USA to hear his view of the situation, or at least as an observer !
The hearing was a condemnation of the Government of Sri Lanka for its military operations to eliminate terrorism, that caused misery to its people of the North and East and massacred the civilians of the south by claymore bomb blasts and firing at buses and trains carrying civilians and caused irreparable damage to land and material.
The ex-Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead had perhaps been invited for his having served as the Ambassador of America in Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2006. But today three years after the situation in Sri Lanka has dramatically changed and the Ambassador’s experience then cannot be related to what is happening now to be admitted as a reference to the recent developments in Sri Lanka.
Mr.Lunstead did not make a statement for the Sub Committee to make it understand the present situation in Sri Lanka, but made a virulent attack on the Government and the President Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka, without mentioning for once that the Government Forces are fighting against a group of terrorists, the FBI it-self had defined as a “ruthless group of terrorists”.
Ms. Lunstead’s contention was that the Government was using terrorism to wage a war against the minority Tamils denying them their rights as the citizens of Sri Lanka. . He did not mention the word “terrorists” thus shrouding the reality of the recent developments of Sri Lanka with contentious arguments of discrimination against the Tamil people.
His knowledge of the situation of Sri Lanka is confined to his past memories as the USA Ambassador in Sri Lanka who moved with the upper class Society without any personal contact with the ordinary people, and the information he had been fed by the “influential” Sri Lanka Tamil diaspora in America.
The Tamil diaspora had been financing the terrorists in Sri Lanka and was responsible for the modernisation of the terrorist forces with the purchase of modern arms and ammunition and transferring what ever technological assistance they could get from USA, to the terrorists.
These are the informants of Mr..Lunstead, as well as the other two witnesses at the hearing -Ms. Niestat and Ms. Dietz.
As a leverage to force the Government of Sri Lanka to stop harassment of the minorities, and stop the military operations and give the Tamil people their political rights Ms.Lunstead suggested the American Government to withhold any American Aid that would be required by the Government of Sri Lanka to reconstruct the war torn country. The suggestion contradicts USA President Barrack Obama’s call for a change, to be generous, not to be arrogant, jumping to punish nations for being different, without understanding their problems and the solutions they have for the problems.
Next it was Ms. Anna Niestat of the Human Rights Watch. She started a harrowing story she had heard from another. A woman, after artillery fire, putting her head out of a bunker in which she was hiding, saw a woman lying on her stomach dead, with a child dead beside her, and another decapitated, and half a body of a child on the branch of a tree. She stopped either to thinking of more harrowing details to add, or to dramatise the instance of horror. She then continued what she had heard from others . She said that about 200,000 Tamil civilians are concentrated in a small area and they have neither food nor medicine. The civilians who are trying to get away into free zones were indiscriminately shot at by the army. She had been told that the hospitals have been bombarded.
She complained that the Tamil Civilians entering into the Government controlled areas are herded into camps in which they are kept. They are not allowed to go out and contact people. Some refugees are taken away by the army and there is the fear that they may not be seen again. The ICRC, she said is not given a list of names of the people separated and taken away from the camps. The camps are guarded by armed paramilitary groups. The Army which is in charge of the camps she said does not allow foreign aid workers to come. She said the International Community should assure a presence in the area to control that there is no violation of human rights of these Civilians in the camps.
Most of her statement was based on hear say. The human rights watch is also dependent on the Tamil diaspora for their information. Karen Parker is an instant in question. She mocks and ridicules the Sinhala people their flag and the President of Sri Lanka. Ms.Niastat gets her firsthand information from the Tamil diaspora. Ms. Niestat and Karen Parker are of course doing their job and it is the continued existence of conflict situations in the world that keep them in business. So it is quite natural for them to seek prestige in appearing in high-power forums like the Foreign Relations Sub Committee to condemns governments as the cause of conflicts.
But Ms.Niestat’s statements were not substantiated by facts. It was a sort of “ my word against yours”. That type of hearing does not give much credit to the Foreign Relations Sub Committed which would at the end of these hearing make a statement, perhaps accusing the Government of Sri Lanka for the “ recent development”, on uncorroborated evidence. The whole story of the bombardment of the Hospitals were unfounded mere hearsay. The Government showed photos of these hospitals intact.
The Government of Sri Lanka is engaged in military operations to eliminate a group of terrorist. The Government Forces carried out a very successful military campaign in which they were able to recover a large part of the territories that had been under terrorist control . The terrorists are now cornered in a small area of about 150 sq.km of land and continue to fight against the armed forces keeping a large number of the Tamil civilians as a human shield. The Government Forces opened a no-fire Zone within the area and requested the Tamil civilians to come into it to be taken to the Government controlled areas.
But the terrorists do not want the people to leave the area as it would open them to Artillery fire of the army. In order to dissuade the Tamil Civilians from leaving the area in which the terrorists are cornered, the terrorists shot artillery fire into the free zones into which the civilians had come, killing and wounding many of them. The Government Forces are not firing into the Free Zone, but the Human Rights watch who accepts the version of the terrorists, that it is the Government Armed forces that are shooting into the free zone repeats it in her turn to get the American Government to intervene.
The Government Forces are on the verge of terminating the military operations against terrorism, and do not want to enter into a cease fire now as the terrorist would make use of a cease fire to gather force and re-organise them-selves to fight back the Government Forces.
This they had done during several cease fires declaration before.
The human Rights Watch had been from the beginning of the Governments military operations against the terrorists, had acted with sympathy towards the terrorists, and now the terrorists are on the verge of being eliminated for good, the human rights moment is going all out to defeat the aim of the Sri Lanka Government to end terrorism, thus trying to give a lease of life to terrorism in Sri Lanka.
The Refugee Camps to house the Tamil civilians coming from the terrorists controlled areas are under surveillance as terrorists infiltrate into the camps along with the refugees, and endanger the lives of large numbers of people who have gathered into these Refugee Camps.
There were already two terrorists suicide cadres who had exploded themselves within the camps killing many civilians including children and members of the armed forces. The Army personal after questioning the people coming into the camps , separate those who are suspected terrorists from others. They are taken way for further verification. Some of them have already informed the Government forces of plans by the terrorists to explode claymore bombs, and places where explosives are hidden.
The humanitarian workers- the so called NGO’s have been proved to have helped the terrorists to build air strips, bunkers, submersible boats, make bombs and transferred lot of material meant for the Civil population that were affected by the tsunami , for the benefit of the terrorists . Therefore, the Government is unfortunately in a difficult situation to once again send the NGOs to war affected areas as they have forfeited the trust and confidence placed upon them by the Government.
The last witness to give evidence was M.Bob Dietz Coordinator of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. Of course on the Agenda was the assassination of Lasantha Wickramatunga. Mr. Dietz described how the assassination was carried out and how the assassins in their motor bicycles disappeared in to the barracks of the Army. He said that though there was no direct accusation against the President of Sri Lanka for the assassination the hand of the Government in that killing and the killing of many other journalists before and after that incident cannot be written off. His evidence too were based on the stories related to him by other journalists.
In that hearing the presence of a terrorist group in Sri Lanka had faded into the back ground. It was only the LTTE they spoke of as a mere political group. The Government point of view was considered unimportant.
EU pressures the Government for a ceasefire, they may also withhold aid to Sri Lanka on the issue of a non existent violation of human rights. The donor states too consider some sort of sanction. Is that how the developing nations should be assisted when they suffer for decades under terrorism ? Is that what the USA President Barrack Obama spoke of as a new world order ?
This is not the change that the President Barrack Obama expect. I am sure the USA President will call for a more balanced credible hearing with the presence of a representative of Sri Lanka, if he receives a biased negative report on the recent developments of Sri Lanka, from the Foreign Affairs Sub Committee.
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
01 March 2009
Human Rights Watch, standard bearers of what Michael Roberts has characterised as HRE – Human Rights Extremism – seems to have decided that it has a special relationship with me. I am the only person quoted by name in the presentation made by their Senior Researcher Dr. Anna Neistat to the US Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee that dealt with Sri Lanka.
Sadly, this anxiety to use my name in an attempt to shore up her case against the Sri Lankan government was not accompanied by any attempt to check with me as to my views on the matters on which they were pronouncing. This is of a piece with their previous dodging of any engagement with me. Eighteen months ago, HRW failed to respond when I proved, from their own report, that their sensationalistic release about the Sri Lankan forces indiscriminately targeting civilians was totally false. Even more tellingly, they cancelled a discussion on Sri Lanka that they had arranged in the British House of Commons, when they heard that the Foreign Minister had asked me to attend. The official from our High Commission who had been liaising with them, and found first Sir Nigel Rodley dropping out, and then Human Rights Watch abandoning the event, thought they feared I would be excessively critical.
Running away from discussion based on evidence seems a dubious practice for an organisation that claims the moral high ground, but an investigation of the way they present their opinions suggests that morality has nothing to do with it. They have a purpose, and if that purpose coincides with the purposes of terrorists, that means nothing to them, since they do not have to live with the effects of terrorism. So they produce what seem to be well researched papers, but singularly fail to substantiate any of the points they make.
In the case of Dr Neistat’s performance in the Senate, the one piece of verifiable evidence she produced was something she attributed to me, all her other quotations being from sources she would not name. However, despite this use, or rather misuse, of my name, she did not bother to check her story with me, even though she claims to have been in Sri Lanka at the time the London Times cited the line she so triumphantly used.
That the line was misleading must of course have been obvious to anyone who understands English. The London Times had claimed I said, ‘Of course, it will not be voluntary – we need to check everyone,’ which is tautologous because that is what the word ‘check’ means. Even in what is termed random checking, it is not those checked but those who check who decide who will be checked. I could only conclude then that Dr Neistat privileging me by citing a redundancy arose from a desire to score debating points, while fearing to see me face to face.
The fear is perhaps understandable, because her testimony is so full of falsehoods that she would have been extremely nervous to actually ask questions that would have upset her applecart. She starts by claiming that the Sri Lankan government is burying ‘the abuses’ by preventing people from gathering or disseminating information, and then immediately says that ‘we’, whoever that might be, managed to collect credible information. If she can achieve that in a short time, and so many others are purveying information they think credible, what on earth makes her think that the government is trying to stop information being collected, or believes that it is possible to succeed in such an endeavour?
Dr Neistat claims that the government and the LTTE are engaged in ‘a perverse competition to demonstrate the greatest disregard for the civilian population’. She conveniently thus ignores that the government expended much energy and money in providing high quality health and education to those under LTTE control for several years, and continued to supply them when the LTTE drove them from pillar to post as the forces regained more and more territory in the North. She ignores forced conscription by the LTTE of one and then two children per family, the forced labour to build bunkers with all the cement the Sri Lankan government sent in for dwellings for civilians. And she will not admit that, if civilians are trying to get into government controlled territory, 35,000 of them succeeding despite being shot at in LTTE attempts to stop them, they obviously do not share her view that both sides are as bad as each other.
Dr Neistat claims that, following the fall of Kilinochchi, civilian casualties have skyrocketed. This is certainly true, but there is no mention of the fact that many of these were due to the LTTE firing on its own people, as indicated by the UN verdict (on the day on which TamilNet reported the greatest number of alleged deaths) that ‘we believe that firing this morning was most likely from an LTTE position’. Significantly the Human Rights Watch Extremism estimate of civilian deaths, up to 2,000, which they claim came from independent monitors on the ground, is almost the same as that propagated by TamilNet. However, HRW’s figure of other ‘civilian casualties’, 5,000, far exceeds what would otherwise have been thought the worst case scenario, that of TamilNet, which alleged fewer than half that figure over the last eight months.
Dr Neistat talks about insufficient food, medical care, and shelter in government-run internment camps, which are obviously a figment of her imagination, since no one from the UN or non-governmental agencies who has visited the welfare centres has made any such claim. However, Dr Neistat then pulls rank about her wide experience of ‘many conflict areas across the world’ to say that she has ‘rarely seen a humanitarian disaster of such scale’, which is a statement that cries out for that old examination rubric, ‘Name names’.
Dr Neistat then claims that Sri Lankan forces ‘have committed numerous indiscriminate and perhaps disproportionate attacks consisting of artillery bombardment and aerial bombing. These include attacks on the government-proclaimed ‘safe zones’ and on clearly marked hospitals. Statements by senior officials indicating that civilians who do not leave LTTE-controlled areas are subject to attack are indicative of an intent to commit war crimes,’ which is rich even for her. If she can name me, why can she not name these ‘senior officials’, and perhaps cite what they said to prove her point? Does she not see that talking of ‘perhaps disproportionate attacks’ reveals her prejudices? She does try to substantiate her claim regarding ‘clearly marked hospitals’ with a long list, dating only from December, which was after we had pointed out how careful the government had been in the preceding six months, since TamilNet had alleged hardly any collateral damage. And whilst it cannot be asserted that there has been no collateral damage since, there was only one allegation of a civilian death until January 22nd, when it was claimed that 30 people had died in an attack on Vallipuram hospital. When the doctor cited initially denied this, the claim was brought down to 5, while it is ignored by Dr Neistat that this was not a hospital marked by coordinates but a medical centre set up suddenly. Indeed, even the TamilNet claims about this, and the Udaiyaarkadu hospital, refer to them as ‘makeshift’ hospitals. It is therefore disingenuous of Dr Neistat to assert that ‘Deliberately attacking a hospital is a war crime,’ and use these instances to bolster her case.
With regard to violations by the LTTE, HRW quotes eyewitness accounts of particulars and, though there are no names, there is some description at least of the alleged eyewitnesses. Contrariwise, claims about excesses by the Sri Lankan forces are usually generalised and full of whims and wise sayings. What are claimed to be eyewitness accounts are sometimes at odds with the earlier TamilNet claims, as when an incident on January 24th is said to have taken place in a playground, whereas TamilNet mentioned a hospital. The number of deaths alleged is the same, 7, while HRW has 15 persons injured where TamilNet has 87. Whatever the number, these deaths and injuries are too many, but as the Bishop of Jaffna put it, the LTTE had positioned its guns amidst civilians, which HRW grants, though helpfully noting that they were ‘about two to four kilometers north of the playground’ and also that the ‘SLA was also not prohibited from attacking LTTE forces inside a safe zone.’Though obviously the obligations of a government are greater than those of terrorists, this incident, assuming the HRW account is accurate, does not justify the claim of ‘serious violations of international humanitarian law’ which ‘led to high civilian casualties’.
Dr Neistat then goes on to talk of what she calls lack of humanitarian access after September 2008, and repeats her charge of ‘shortages of water, food, medical supplies and other necessities’, none of which have been reported by others, with the UN indeed informing the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance after a monitoring visit in December that it was pleasantly surprised at the satisfactory levels of health (and also of education, with the government conducting the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level Public Examination). Though things have got more difficult since then, this has finally prompted people who seemed to be hedging their bets before to categorically call upon the LTTE to let go of the civilians whom it was holding against their will. With the support of the Church, 35,000 did make their way out in February, and if there is no ambiguity about criticism of the LTTE for keeping the rest, it is likely that they too will soon be set free.
Then Dr Neistat, ignoring the fact that, despite the propaganda of both the LTTE and HRW, 35,000 people chose to make their way to what those two organisations described as internment camps, continues with the usual HRW diatribe about these. She sets up a Manichean dichotomy in claiming that ‘Instead of providing the internally displaced with the assistance and protection they are entitled to under international law, the Sri Lankan government continues to violate their fundamental rights’, forgetting that not only have physical needs been provided, but that education and vocational training have also commenced.
Dr Neistat talks of arbitrary detention during screening procedures as though she is the sole arbiter of the reasons the Sri Lankan government might have for particular security precautions. However, given that the government has only placed in judicial custody 32 of the 250 or so youngsters who confessed to being fighting cadres, and has allowed the others to remain with their families, its conduct can scarcely be described as arbitrary.
Dr Neistat then goes on to complain of conditions in the camps as well as the hospitals, obviously not aware that the UN had actually said it could not assist at the level the government had prescribed because it was beyond UN standards. The ICRC has consistently praised the efforts of the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health. Dr Neistat may have different ideas of a public health system, given her own experience, but she should read the plaudits the Sri Lankan system has received from international observers, and also register the comparative efficiency with which it has dealt with such a large influx of patients. And though she complains of security precautions, and that humanitarian assistance from outsiders is forbidden, she must recognise first the need to limit access given the reach and intensity of Tiger terrorism, and secondly the fact that many humanitarian workers, including indefatigable nuns, have been assisting the Ministry in its work. Besides, government has made arrangements for relations to accompany those being treated, even though that makes security precautions all the more difficult.
Dr Neistat cites some cases of what she claims are disappearances, but is extraordinarily coy about these. She may claim that she is silent because of fear for her informants, but since government has had cases of families who were separated in the trek to safety brought to its notice, and has sought and in many cases already achieved reunification, Dr Neistat should get over this particular neurosis if she is really anxious to help. She should also avoid sweeping generalisations such as ‘some detainees are children’ since government has been waiting anxiously for such victims of the Tigers, but has so far found none, though some of those who confessed to being cadres were former child recruits, though now over eighteen.
Dr Neistat claims that ‘Several sources reported to Human Rights Watch the presence of plainclothes military intelligence and paramilitaries in the camps. A UN official in Vavuniya told Human Rights Watch that she and colleagues have seen members of paramilitary groups in different camps.’It is astonishing that this has not been conveyed to government, since the forces, who are present in uniform too to help as necessary, have made it a point to prevent any such incursion. Indeed, when I checked a claim that the USAID sponsored agency Internews had reported something of the sort, they denied it – but clearly HRW has its own special sources, none of which will actually make any clear allegation.
HRW also goes on at length about restrictions, without any recognition that, with 35,000 people arriving suddenly and the Tiger practice of deathly infiltration, security precautions are essential, at least until the Tiger command structure is dismantled. HRW also ignores that restrictions on outside access were intended to prevent exploitation of those who had been previously exploited by the Tigers, and that aid agencies, once they had committed to particular acts of assistance, have been granted access. Journalists too now visit, though the salacious reporting of HRW makes one realise why some precautions are still necessary, since the Tiger propaganda wing is now its most efficient component and will take ruthless advantage of anything critical of the government.
Sadly, so systematic has HRW been in its critiques of the Sri Lankan government, that one begins to wonder whether it thinks such grist to the terrorist mill to be no bad thing. Certainly its reliance on simply one-sided information, and its refusal to even attempt to engage with government, indicates a deviousness that does no credit to the ideals it professes.
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
By: Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
26th February 2009
Human Rights Watch has once again dropped a beautifully timed cluster bomb on Sri Lanka. Often these explosives coincide with the sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and this year is no exception, though we can also detect a tendency to try to prevent the Sri Lankan Forces from dealing conclusively with a terrorist threat.
This practice commenced in 2007 when, following the quick and effective operation to liberate the East from the Tigers, HRW delivered a diatribe in which it accused the Government of conducting a Dirty War (a phrase successfully calculated to hit the headlines), of indiscriminately attacking civilians, of ruthlessly displacing people and also of forcibly resettling them.
Human Rights Watch has once again dropped a beautifully timed cluster bomb on Sri Lanka. Often these explosives coincide with the sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and this year is no exception, though we can also detect a tendency to try to prevent the Sri Lankan Forces from dealing conclusively with a terrorist threat.
We gave the lie to all these allegations, using evidence gathered not only from the actual Human Rights report (which recorded for instance only one instance of allegations of civilian deaths, which HRW itself granted occurred in a place where the LTTE was present and where bunkers had been dug), but also from the UNHCR certification that ‘the returns are voluntary and in line with international protection standards’.
HRW failed to respond to our letters, sent direct to their plenipotentiaries in the capitals, as well as to the delightful Ms Zulueta, who could not respond to our queries at the meeting to which we had invited her, as she was new to the job.
Her promise to look into the matter and get back to us seems to have been yet another of those placatory falsehoods that HRW uses when in a tight corner, as when they cancelled the meeting in the British House of Commons after they heard that I would be there to respond to their allegations.
I will not be so presumptuous as to assert there was a causal connection, even though the representative of the High Commission who had secured my attendance after the Foreign Minister requested it thought the cancellation was not entirely a coincidence.
Searching for landmines
Despite running away then, HRW like the Tigers came back to fight another day, and renewed its charges, without any evidence, of ‘indiscriminate bombing and shelling’.
We were able to show that this was arrant nonsense, since even adding up all the allegations on TamilNet, obviously not the most objective of sources, the figure cited of civilian casualties was not more than a hundred, in the last six months of last year.
Perhaps as a result of our citation of this fact, there have been many more allegations of civilian deaths this year, and the TamilNet allegations amount to 2000 over January and February.
The figure HRW cites is exactly that and, though they claim they have independent sources, it would require excessive credulity to believe that the two sets of figures were entirely unconnected.
HRW sadly seems to believe that, apart from the LTTE, they are the only people concerned about these civilians.
They forget that these are Sri Lankan citizens, who are the responsibility of the Sri Lankan Government, which has fed and educated them over several years, and kept them healthy with medical services provided with a dedication that all international observers have commended.
At the Peace Secretariat we monitor all allegations of civilian casualties, and seek explanations of what happened. The reasons for allegations may not always be clear, but we have had the utmost cooperation, for instance, receiving a detailed explanation of the allegations of civilian deaths in just the one air raid in November out of a total of forty that took place in that month.
We were told what the target was, and while there could be no guarantee that there had been no collateral damage, it was explained that this was because the LTTE sometimes forced civilians into close proximity to military installations.
Certainly the inconsistencies in the TamilNet account of the incident, bombs from planes turning over a couple of days into cluster bombs made in Russia dropped from Russian planes shows very clearly how cleverly the LTTE tries to manipulate the Western opinion whose indulgence it craves.
After we had published our detailed analysis of figures last December, the LTTE evidently decided that it had to make more dramatic allegations. So the numbers have increased by leaps and bounds, to be dutifully taken up by HRW.
They also evidently decided that, since the Sri Lankan forces were careful about such casualties, they had better contribute to this themselves.
Thus we see that, on the day, January 26, on which TamilNet claimed the largest amount of civilians casualties, 300, the UN finally decided that the firing had come from the LTTE.
Just in case this sounds incredible – and a reporter I was explaining it to was actually convinced only when he saw the message, with sign off, that had been forwarded to me on my telephone – the exact words used were ‘For info we believe that firing this morning most likely was from an LTTE position’.
Earlier in the day the UN had wondered whether the firing had been by the Sri Lankan army. But we have got used to this. When it is clear the LTTE has fired, the claim is that nothing can be said for certain. When nothing can be said for certain, the claim is that the Sri Lankan Forces did it.
Fortunately, as clear evidence mounts that the LTTE is not only quite happy for civilians to die, but actually unashamedly promotes this through suicide bombing and grenades and direct firing aimed at those trying to get away, that particular canard is being slowly but surely laid to rest.
Hence the second canard that was first assiduously pushed by HRW, which introduced the term internment camps to describe the centres in which civilians who escape from the LTTE into Government controlled territory are kept.
HRW started this several months ago, in an obvious attempt to justify the LTTE claim that no one really wanted to get away, and thousands of people were actually delighted to be herded into ever smaller spaces.
Surely HRW must realise that this is not a question of internment, which is what the British did to the Boers, the Germans to the Jews, the Americans to the Japanese (though this lasts without the starvation and death the British and Germans had inflicted, as the London Times so graphically described it), collecting people from their homes and herding them together against their will.
We are talking here of people who have of their own volition, and with incredible courage, got away from the LTTE. But we also know that among them there could be suicide bombers and snipers, so as in the case of all refugees, there needs to be checking and careful attention to security requirements.
These after all are our people, and as we have seen the bombs are aimed at civilians too.
We will not take the chance of further mayhem, but meanwhile we will ensure that, subject to security needs, these are people who will have all comforts possible, not only the basics that are the norm by international standards, but even more – so much so that the UN has told us that they cannot provide funding for conditions that are better than what they are mandated to provide.
The latest Human Rights Watch is replete with insinuations that Orwell’s Ministry of Truth could have studied to refine its Doublespeak.
The displaced persons who ‘escape to what they hope is safety’ are “instead put in internment centres masquerading as ‘welfare villages’.”
That ‘instead’, aided and abetted by the HRW masquerade, does yeoman service for the LTTE as well as HRW, since it implies that they might as well stay in Mullaitivu.
However, in spite of HRW assiduously making such a point for months now, 35,000 of the displaced finally managed to make their way to safety, in spite of the LTTE even murdering some to try to stop this.
HRW claims that the Government is ‘secretly taking away apparent LTTE suspects to arbitrary detention or possible enforced disappearances’. This too is arrant nonsense, based as it is on what TamilNet is claiming.
Again the use of doublespeak – ‘apparent…. suspects’ and ‘secretly…..possible enforced disappearances’ – is designed to denigrate a perfectly decent procedure whereby even of those who confess to being cadres, only a few have been committed formally to rehabilitation centres, the others being allowed to stay with their families in the welfare villages.
This may not be entirely wise but it is the humane thing to do, since doubtless many of these have been forcibly conscripted – but it also reinforces the need for constant vigilance, since the chances are that one of them may be a sleeper waiting to commit mayhem.
The majority should not suffer because of worries about one, but if that one succeeds, it will be one disaster and many deaths too many.
Human Rights Watch describes a visit to a hospital, without explaining who had made the visit, and whether it was another case of the false pretences under which it had produced its previous report.
Not unsurprisingly, where Human Rights Watch can see only problems, a lack of materials such as sheets and a paucity of personnel, more responsible international observers such as the ICRC and the UN have remarked on the dedication of those who are working and the quality of the care bestowed under difficult circumstances.
HRW, which was conspicuously silent last March, when other Human Rights organisations issued a joint statement on an earlier incursion into Gaza, is obviously incapable of giving credit to a country which is so dedicated, despite limited resources, to looking after its own.
The care taken of these patients gives the lie to the HRW assertion that the Government has claimed that those who were trapped in the war zone ‘can be presumed to be siding with the LTTE and treated as combatants’.
What prompted this perverse interpretation should be examined in details, but it must be noted that the Government has continued to provide food for these people with the assistance of the ICRC, and to get them away for required medical treatment, prompting a recent acknowledgment by the ICRC, that it ‘is supporting the Ministry of Health in Trincomalee district as it provides care for this exceptional influx of patients’.
But the HRW technique is to ignore everything positive that those who actually work in the Vanni say, and instead assert abstract principles that go against the policies and practices of a Government providing and coordinating more humanitarian assistance than any other country in such a conflict situation.
So HRW talks of Government efforts being insufficient, but it ignores the fact that food was supplied throughout in massive quantities, so that even the Americans have now realised that the LTTE used to help themselves liberally to what the UN took in. Significantly, though HRW talked constantly, in the days in which the LTTE was herding people along with them, of impending epidemics, it has not acknowledged the sterling work of the Ministry of Health in preventing this, through the dedication of its personnel and the constant supply of drugs.
While the release is replete with false and malicious assertions about the Sri Lankan Government and forces, HRW masks its dependence on Tiger propaganda for such claims by expressing the usual reservations about the Tigers too. But these refer to diabolical actions that are well known, and ignore the more recent excesses of the Tigers in deliberately targeting civilians and humanitarian workers such as the nun who is now recovering in a Government hospital from LTTE shooting.
Of the 14 paragraphs in the release, eight are categorical condemnations of the Government, three blame both ‘sides’ and three criticise the Tigers.
The release is headlined ‘Army Shells and Detains Displaced Persons, Tamil Tigers Prevent Their flight’, a use of verbs that Orwell would have relished, since the army is prevented as actively wicked, the Tigers only passively so.
The first para of the release, which HRW is too skilful not to know is the most important one, reinforces this vituperation against now not just the army but the Government, in saying that it ‘should immediately cease its indiscriminate artillery attacks on civilians in the northern Vanni region and its policy of detaining displaced persons in internment camps’.
The only silver lining in this cloud is that HRW now seems to have realised that the ‘indiscriminate bombing’ it alleged in May is simply untrue.
Writer is Secretary General, Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process.