|Amnesty International achieves new levels of lunacy|
|Wednesday, 11 February 2009|
Over the last few months Amnesty International has, contrary to its previous more balanced approach, been running a campaign of increasing intensity to denigrate the Sri Lankan government. The process began with its so-called Sri Lanka expert, Yolanda Foster, engaging in underhand discussions with some members of the Coffee Club of Sri Lankan based NGOs to send a letter of complaint to the United Nations Secretary General. She accompanied this with regular complaints in public about the actions of the Sri Lankan forces.
After her complicity in the underhand plotting was revealed, Amnesty moved a gentleman called Sam Zarifi to the front. Zarifi had previously worked for Human Rights Watch, which first publicized the canard about Sri Lankan forces indiscriminately attacking civilians, and failed to respond to a detailed refutation of this accusation, based on the claims in their own report.
Zarifi made a speciality of condemning the arrangements being made from those fleeing from the Tigers to government controlled territory. On reflection this seems part of a campaign to justify the Tiger determination to keep those civilians with them, so they could be used as pawns, to be sacrificed in the endgame that was already being planned. Amnesty International, having done its part in justifying the retention of those civilians, has accordingly been shrill now in contributing to the Tiger endgame by attributing appalling atrocities to the Sri Lankan forces.
Their latest recruit to this game is a man called Jim McDonald, who has now emerged as their spokesman. He did not seem to have much of an identity, because, unlike Foster and Zarifi, he was never quoted in his releases, but now the reason for this is clear. Unlike those two, who are clever but devious, it is obvious that when he opens his mouth it is only to put his foot into it.
This emerged in his extraordinary justification for the Amnesty International piece which ‘denounced the reported use of cluster bombs in a civilian area by the Sri Lankan military as a serious violation of international humanitarian law. According to a UN spokesperson, the main hospital in the town of Puthukkudiyiruppu, was hit by cluster bombs and had to be evacuated.’
The implication of that statement was that Amnesty had received reports that the Sri Lankan military used cluster bombs, and that a UN spokesperson was responsible for these reports. However, when the UN acknowledged that it was mistaken, and a Sri Lankan asked McDonald also to apologize, he got a very weird justification for the Amnesty statement. That justification is worth quoting in full -
‘It is interesting to read that the UN apologized, when they never accused the Sri Lankan military in the first place of being the one to use the cluster bombs. Nor did the AI press release say that the UN had accused the government of doing so. Do the army commanders in Colombo know for a fact that some lower ranking officers or troops in the north didn't use the cluster bombs? If the army says that they've never ordered the bombs so they couldn't have used them, therefore the LTTE must have been the ones responsible, is it possible that some lower ranks used captured LTTE cluster bombs? I'm not at all saying that this is what happened. But if the LTTE had the bombs and if the army's been capturing lots of LTTE equipment lately, is it possible? If you were the army commander, wouldn't you want an investigation done to make sure that none of your forces up in the north could have been responsible?
I don't see any reason for AI to apologize for our Feb. 4 press release. I hope this responds to your concerns.’
This is casuistry combined with rank idiocy. McDonald first asserts that the UN did not accuse the government of using cluster bombs. It was therefore obviously deliberate sleight of hand on the part of Amnesty to juxtapose the two sentences so as to suggest to readers that what the UN spokesperson said justified its initial denunciation. If it is now saying that the reports were from elsewhere, perhaps it could come clean by telling the world on whose word it was denouncing Sri Lanka
But McDonald then goes madder. He assumes – contrary to the UN clarification that cluster bombs were used at all – to assume that they must have been, and therefore continues to insist that it must have been by the Sri Lankan military. He now acknowledges, on the strength of what the UN spokesperson said, only that the forces did not order cluster bombs – therefore, since in the strange world this old McDonald inhabits, this means the forces are saying the LTTE must have used cluster bombs, he thinks it possible that the forces captured these bombs from the LTTE and then used them.
Of course, as he so clearly puts it, he is not saying this is what happened, he only wants to repeat that, if the LTTE had such bombs, then it is possible that lower ranks used captured LTTE cluster bombs. It would seem the man does not realize what a bomb is, and has no idea that cluster bombs are usually dropped from a plane – though he may have watched enough action films to think that the lower ranks of the army clambered into an aeroplane and fitted the bombs they had captured and flew off into the night to drop the bombs on the PTK hospital.
Of course he might have assumed that these putative lower ranks were actually able to use the bombs as shells. Such technical expertise would be of a piece with that of the UN officials who, on the basis of a description of sounds over the telephone, first deduced that cluster bombs had been used and then changed their diagnosis to air-burst fragmentation munitions. Their too the UN attributed to the diagnosis to staff sheltering in the grounds, before admitting that the diagnosis was by people far away from the scene.
I have no idea where Amnesty finds such diagnostic geniuses, but they really should do better. They should also cease from pretending they have UN authority for their claims, and come clean about from whom they get these reports which they then propagate so avidly.
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretary GeneralSecretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
|Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 )|
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