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Saturday, 22 May 2010






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ICG: Mouthpiece of the vendors of terror

The anniversary of the defeat of the LTTE came earlier this week, and true to form the International Crisis Group (ICG) came out with its report on Sri Lanka and Channel 4 had another “exposure” of what is alleged to be war crimes and violations of International Humanitarian Law in the military operations to defeat the LTTE.

It would have been surprising indeed if there were no such moves to mark the end of terrorism in Sri Lanka, and the restoration of peace after 30 long years. It is a trend in some quarters of the West, that help keep the LTTE flag flying after the rout it suffered in May last year, and keep finding new evidence to suit their ends.

Dr Palitha Kohona

The hurrahs were loud among the peaceniks of the days of battle with the LTTE, as they have to face the reality of peace today. Peace is what they shouted for and peace is what we have today, but the ICG, Channel 4 and The Hub on BBC anchored by Nick Gowing lead the way in trying to show the world that the peace was not won as rightly as they would have wished it to be.

Channel 4 has two new and conveniently unnamed sources for the allegation about the how “both Tamil fighters and civilians were executed after surrendering and that these orders to the troops came from “the top”.

And who does Channel 4 have to comment on these allegations? It is none other than Louise Arbour, former Chief Prosecutor at the International War Crimes Tribunal and currently President of the International Crisis Group, who has been known for long as a determined opponent of Sri Lanka’s fight against the LTTE and efforts to restore peace to a nation traumatized by a 30 - year menace of terror.

Here is part of what Arbour told Channel 4 presenter Jonathan Miller: “Well, at this point I think everybody is calling for a credible, fair, independent, international investigation.

Sri Lanka has a very long history of impunity and any national initiative in Sri Lanka would be bound to fail and certainly would carry no credibility, ... to document credibly the horrors inflicted by the LTTE, could not be done by the Sri Lankan Government.

This would carry no credibility and in fact it could lead to revisionism and impression of romanticism about the actions of the LTTE, so it’s in the Government’s own interest to make sure that this is done credibly and independently.”

Louise Arbour

Dammit, Louise Arbour there is no need for any inquiry to document credibly the horrors inflicted by the LTTE. Just ask the US State Department why it named the LTTE as the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world.

It’s not difficult to spot the cause for worry of the ICG and Channel 4. It is the appointment of the “Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission”.

Where Channel 4 and ICG too tripped up was in their choice of a person to respond from the Sri Lanka Government. Dr Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the UN, New York not only exposed the farce that was being presented as new evidence, but trained his guns on the attempt to discredit the new Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. When the presenter Jon Snow tried to divert the subject to that of media freedom and harassment of journalists Kohona had him virtually running for cover.

Here are excerpts from Dr. Kohona’s response to Channel 4.

Jon Snow - “kill everybody, finish them off; that is what one of the military commanders who had to carry out some of these killings, told us on this program. There is continuing evidence that there were atrocities carried out by the military on the heels of grave atrocities carried out by the Tamil Tigers?”

Dr Kohona: “The Government has just appointed a Commissioner of Inquiry, under the Commission of Inquiry Act, to go into this type of allegation. It will have a right mandate and I think it’s appropriate for us to let that Commission of Inquiry do its job, rather than pre-empt what it’s going to do, or the evidence that it will call before it.”

Jon Snow: “Why should anybody outside Sri Lanka have any confidence that this Commission will be fair and balanced in its approach to this task?”

Dr Kohona: “I think it’s simple and Sri Lanka has a history of a very highly respected judicial system and I have no doubt that this Commission of Inquiry will conduct its inquiries in a satisfactory manner and to suggest that anybody from outside can do a better job, I think it’s simply colonialist, that is gone now....” The cornered presenter quickly moves on to media freedom and journalists.

Jon Snow: “Well you have a fine tradition in Sri Lanka of independent journalism. But every independent journalist that has reported in detail about what’s been going on in terms of the military’s activities against the Tamils, has either been locked up or murdered?”

Dr. Kohona: “There are over 70 media channels operating in Sri Lanka and if every independent journalist had been murdered, how are they continuing to operate?”

Jon Snow: “I said every independent journalist...who has reported in detail on your atrocities perpetrated against the Tamil Tigers, has either been murdered or locked up. One of whom has been locked up for many years.”

Dr Kohona: “Which one? Which one has been locked up for many years?”

Jon Snow: “Well I don’t have his name to hand, but you know perfectly well who I am talking about.

Dr Kohona: “I think when you make allegations of this nature on air, one has to be a little careful. I’m not aware of any journalist who has been locked up for years. In fact, a journalist who has convicted by the courts for terrorism related activities like in other countries, has just been pardoned by the President. So I think you have to be extremely cautious when you...

Dr Kohona: I think it’s an abuse of privilege to use a publicly watched television channel to make that sort of allegation without any evidence to back you up.” The battering will go on, as long as there are funds of the LTTE stacked away that can be used for propaganda, and as long as there are people who have once held important office willing to be mouthpieces for the vendors of terror, while presenting themselves as purveyors of humanitarian causes.



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