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Pro-LTTE bands play in concert 

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, had more than her day in the local limelight as one who, despite her legal background and being an international civil servant of the world body, does not take the trouble to double check information. What is worse is that being a diplomat she did not consult with the government she was accusing of serious wrongdoing about the credibility of the information she had. This is by no means the mark of a good diplomat, nor what is expected from one who holds such an important position in the UN Administration. It is therefore not surprising that Navi Pillay, as she is more familiarly referred to, has been told by more experienced people in the UN that she should not attempt to dramatize situations as happened about Sri Lanka last week, and that consultation remains an important aspect of diplomacy.

But one must not be misled into the belief that Navi Pillay and the likes of her will be silenced for long. Those who peddle unsubstantiated statements about the situation in Sri Lanka’s north, especially with regard to the IDPs who have come over to government held areas despite many hardships and threats, and the Tamil civilians who continue to be forcibly held by the LTTE, are mushrooming around in the well orchestrated propaganda barrage by the militarily struggling LTTE. Regrettably, these include international news agencies which appear to have associated press relations with LTTE propagandists, who are ready to spread the Gospel according to the TamilNet far and wide in, clear and deliberate attempts to discredit the Sri Lanka government and provide whatever relief possible to the terror driven LTTE.

Navi Pillay’s unverified and unsubstantiated charges against Sri Lanka include the following paragraph: Despite the Government’s designation of safe or no fire zones for civilians, repeated shelling has continued inside these zones, according to information made available to the OHCHR. Other areas holding civilians have also been shelled. OHCHR said a range of credible sources have indicated that more than 2,800 civilians may have been killed and more than 7,000 injured since January 20, many of then inside the no-fire zones. The casualties are believed to include hundreds of children killed and more than a thousand injured.

Apart from being the core paragraph of an important statement by a UN High Commissioner, the very vagueness of the sources and the deliberate evasion of direct responsibility for what has been said, this entire paragraph, and through this the entire statement, would not have passed muster with a good newspaper editor, even if written by the most senior reporter available. She refers to a range of credible sources about civilians who may have been killed and injured. The casualties are also believed to include hundreds of children killed and more than a thousand injured. The OHCHR is certain of nothing but it gets about telling the whole world as the truth exactly what it does not know and seeks to give credibility to such statements with the imprimatur of the UN to support it.

Referring to safe or no fire zones for civilians the statement brings into question the very presence of the safe zones, and creates the necessary doubt that no fire zone is only a fabrication of the Government. This is despite many persons who are not associated with the Sri Lanka Government visiting these zones, including the UN High Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Sir John Holmes, and several UN and other foreign relief personnel working in the safe zones.

What Navi Pillay and others who are obviously within the charmed circle of LTTE propagandists, or devout believers in such propaganda appear to be praying for, is the realization of a macabre desire to see a horrific blood-bath in Sri Lanka, which is somehow evading their most morbid expectations.

The real sources for the OHCHR statement are not difficult to find. In an Op-Ed piece by Lakhdar Brahimi, titled “A slaughter waiting to happen” in the International Herald Tribune of March 19, states that: According to U.N. figures, 2,300 civilians have already died and at least 6,500 have been injured since January. Some 500 children have been killed and over 1,400 injured. It is a convenient juggling of the numbers that will show the link. The IHT piece has 2,300 civilians killed and 6,500 injured just a difference of 500 either way, not to be seen repeating the perceptible LTTE devotee Navi Pillay. The writer remains in tow with the OHCHR statement that hundreds of children have been killed and more than a thousand injured. For the record, the writer, Lakhdar Brahmi, is well connected to the International Crisis Group (ICG) which has suddenly emerged as a strong supporter of international pressure on the Sri Lanka Government to have a ceasefire, which the LTTE is canvassing for through all its known and hidden agents worldwide.

The same article opens by stating: “The already severe humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka is on the brink of catastrophe. It will take the quick arrival of humanitarian relief and high-level international political muscle to bring the nightmarish situation to an end and prevent a slaughter. So it is international muscle power that is sought, and one can be certain that such muscle power will not be used against the LTTE, who according to all these do-gooders and lovers of peace are the liberators of the Tamils it continues to hold through force arms. The muscle power sought is definitely against the Sri Lankan government that is fighting its own, and an important part of South Asia’s war against terror. None of these organizations seek such international political muscle against the use of drones to carry out bombing raids and missile attacks over Pakistani territory to curb the Taliban, as they claim to do, or against the increasing number of civilians, including women and children killed in Afghanistan almost daily.

Canadian doubles

At last Thursday’s Media Briefing the Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe mentioned the freedom that LTTE supporters or members had in Toronto, Brussels and Geneva when they carried out demonstrations against Sri Lanka on March 16. In the well orchestrated demos every participant was seen carrying LTTE flags, especially in two cities, Toronto and Brussels, of countries where the LTTE is proscribed as a terrorist organization. Sri Lanka will no doubt raise this matter with the government’s concerned.

Whether this is an aspect of the freedom of expression or not, or whether the glorifying of a terrorist organization is in keeping with the proscription imposed on the LTTE, it is relevant to quote what the Canadian National Post had to say about this undisguised support for terror.

The National Post of March 18 said: "As members of this editorial board watched tens of thousands of Tamil Canadians throng downtown Toronto on Monday, we couldn't help but be struck by a curious double-standard that afflicts Canadian ethno politics. To wit: Why are Canadian Tamils permitted to express support for terrorism in a manner that would be considered outrageous if the demonstrators were Arab or Muslim?

The rally that took place in Toronto on Monday was not just, as organizers claimed, an expression of support for Tamil civilians in war-torn Sri Lanka. Many of the participants carried flags of the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist group that practices suicide bombings and abducts children to use as soldiers. (In 2006, Canada’s federal government officially designated the Tamil Tigers a terrorist group, a move that criminalized the group's fundraising efforts in this country.) Some of the banners displayed on Monday (March 16) also depicted Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, a wanted mass murderer who personally authorizes the acts of terrorism the group has committed over the last three decades.

The article referred to, Mr. Michael Ignatieff recently denouncing "Israel Apartheid Week" when he saw it was being used as a cover for poisonous attacks against the Jewish state and Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, lashing out against the Canadian Arab Federation for its leader's unhinged attacks against the Israel. This zero-tolerance attitude toward terror-apologism is praiseworthy -- but we would like to see it applied across the board. The Sinhalese Sri Lankan victims of Tamil Tiger terrorism are no less deserving of support than the Jewish residents of Ashkelon or Sderot. The National Post said.

The reason for this double standard is obvious: There are more than 200,000 Canadians of Sri Lankan Tamil descent in Canada, enough to comprise a swing vote in suburban Toronto-area ridings.

The message must be: Terrorism is a criminal affront to Canadian values, wherever it is practiced. Just because Canadians don't pay as much attention to Sri Lanka as they do to Israel doesn't change that fact the National Post concluded.


The Lahore Files: Axis of South Asian terror
By Lucien Rajakarunanayake


Watch out for cluster bombs of lies
By Lucien Rajakarunanayake


The tragedy of a ceasefire for Tamils and Sri Lanka
By Dr. Michael Roberts


Ethical crisis grips media men


Propitious Paranthan and beyond
By Lucien Rajakarunanayake


By Dayan Jayatilleka




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Last modified: August 06, 2010.

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