04 August 2011

HRW and Brad Adams need to get some sleep


It was expected.  Those who have uncritically and happily believed and continue to believe lies trotted out by terrorists and their minions in various garb, including human rights advocates, journalists and academics who ignore the most basic tenets of fact-finding; namely corroboration, reliability of source and verification; were not going to buy anything that would in effect show them up.   
The Defence Ministry debriefing of military activities, titled ‘Humanitarian Operation – Factual Analysis’, released on Monday, August 1, 2011, is a comprehensive account of the challenge of ridding Sri Lanka of the menace of terrorism.  It includes the all-important contextualization of the entire operation.  A full description of the principal enemy, the LTTE is offered, including atrocities against civilians, use of child soldiers, the systematic practice of ethnic cleansing, attacks on democracy, the global spread of the organization and relevant threats as well as responses by key members of the international community by way of proscribing the organization. 
The report describes the potency of the LTTE, human and material resources at its disposal, supply network, international support mechanisms and its transnational criminal activities.  It also covers the long history of attempt at a negotiated settlement and how the LTTE scuttled them all and used such moments to recuperate, recruit and re-arm.   
All this is ‘context’ that the vociferous anti-Sri Lanka lobby have largely played down or ignored all together.  The report gives a full account of the military strategy and how it was informed at all times and in all things by a concern for civilians that is hardly ever part of military operations anywhere in the world, especially those that ostensibly take on terrorists.  Most importantly, this report complements a separate account of the humanitarian assistance including provision of food, medicine and other essential supplies and services both during the military operations as well as after the liberation of close to 300,000 civilians held hostage by the LTTE. 
 
Now some have argued that this is ‘unbelievable’ and their disbelief, sadly, is perfectly believable.  They are after all used to seeing ‘war’ as an uncompromising and unapologetic exercise for this has been the history they’ve read, lived through and benefitted from.  Interestingly, though, this was not a ‘war without witnesses’ as some have claimed.  All this is clearly established in these two documents.  Still, we live in a world where those who will not see just cannot be expected to see.  I am thinking right now of a man called Brad Adams and the outfit he works for, Human Rights Watch (HRW).
HRW has released a comment on the report titled ‘Sri Lanka: official report whitewashes military abuses’.  There’s a sub-heading thrown in for good measure: ‘Admits civilian deaths for the first time, but puts all blame on Tamil Tigers’. 
Now had HRW actually read the document, it would have something more to say.  What Brad Adams has said shows that neither he nor HRW are interested in the truth of human beings, but rather, having coming to some crazy conclusions based on tall tales whispered to them by a bunch of terrorists and their mouthpieces, are ‘honour’-bound to repeat a lie and pooh pooh all evidence to the contrary.  All in a day’s work, yes.   
Two things are mentioned: military abuses and civilian deaths.  Civilian deaths need not have been ‘admitted’ two years after the LTTE’s military was routed.  They were known from Day One, beginning with Velupillai Prabhakaran murdering Alfred Duraiappah, the Jaffna Mayor on July 27, 1975 right up to the cold-blooded spraying of bullets on men, women, children, the sick, disabled and elderly on May 15, 2011.  The Sri Lankan Government adopted a policy of zero civilian casualties.  It is this objective that a) helped minimize civilian deaths, and b) increased troop losses.
No hostage rescue operation is so clinical that innocents come out unscathed and this was no exception.  What is crucial to remember is that in all law pertaining to humanitarian issues and human rights is those concerning intent, systemic nature and proportionality.  Sri Lanka fought an unequal war: the LTTE was answerable to none and the state a signatory to numerous international conventions.  Sri Lanka came off with flying colours on all counts.  HRW and Brad Adams do not agree.  This is their right.  On the other hand the onus is on them to back disagreement with fact.  What do they have to say?
Brad Adams claims, ‘The Sri Lanka government admits its forces caused civilian losses during the conflict’s last months’.  I don’t know if Adams has read some spoof version of the report, but there’s no admission of causing civilian losses, deliberate or otherwise.  Adam’s perhaps doesn’t have the basic intelligence to understand that the ‘causing’ was all done by the LTTE, a terrorist outfit, a child-snatching outfit and a hostage-taking outfit.  Talk of twisting!
Adams brushes off the report as ‘the latest and glossiest effort to whitewash mounting evidence of government atrocities’.   What’s this ‘evidence’, though?  HRW refers to reports issued by a UN Panel of Experts, a US State Department Report and its own reports.  Nothing is said about the reliability of the sources quoted in these reports, though.  Most importantly, HRW is silent on the fact that evidence  (sic) is hugely tainted by the fact that it was mostly culled from LTTE propaganda and that key ‘informants’ have since admitted to wild exaggeration extracted at gun-point by the terrorists. 
HRW talks of shelling of hospitals.  Again, no evidence except fairytales spouted by the naïve or the pernicious.  ‘Thousands of civilian casualties’ is another casual insert, again demonstrating horrendous arithmetic skills; the subtraction from the highest population estimate (305,000 – again artificially boosted by the LTTE to obtain greater quantities of supplies which they could pilfer) the number registered in IDP Receiving Centres (approximately 295,000), LTTE cadres who died in the fighting (over 4000, according to last intercepted LTTE communications), those who perished after that final intercept, those who fled without registering to India and other parts of the island, those killed by the LTTE while attempting to flee, does not add up to ‘thousands’ and certainly not to the 40,000 offered by Channel 4.  'Lies Agreed Upon', a damning rebuttal of wild allegations trotted out by the likes of Brad Adams sheds a lot of light about modern-day number crunching.
HRW makes much of the Defence Ministry ‘admitting’ (makes it sound like a ‘confession, no?  Should we add a smiley, I wonder) the use of small arms fire including sniper attacks in rescue operation.    I wonder if HRW and Brad Adams, had they been in charge of rescuing hundreds of thousands of hostages from the grasp of ruthless terrorists could have managed to save even one by offering pieces of cakes or shooting peanuts using a pea-shooter.  What planet are they living in, I often wonder.
There’s more ‘startling’ emphasis by HRW: ‘The Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat itself effectively admitted in April 2009 to using heavy weapons in areas where there were civilians, stating: “Our security forces have been instructed to end the use of heavy caliber guns, combat aircraft and aerial weapons which could cause civilian casualties”.  What’s so startling in this?  Once the No-Fire Zone was announced and demarcated and all Tiger command positions eliminated, it was only logical to issue such directive.  It does not imply that heavy weapons or aerial weapons were used deliberately to cause civilian casualties.  HRW is great with sleight of hand, terrible at logic.
‘Artillery attacks on hospitals!’ Adams screams.  No evidence, though.  Except a highly tendentious and malice-ridden account by a discredited UN official quoting people who were made to lie at gun point by the LTTE. 
Finally, Adams says that there is growing evidence that the Government forces committed war crimes. Is he referring to the Darusman Report?  The laughable, highly unprofessional and mischievous productions, as quoted in reports carrying precious Brad Adams quotes?  Well, all that has been debunked, didn’t Adams know?   
I am convinced that Brad Adams and HRW are pretending to be asleep.  No amount of compelling evidence to counter their wicked and/or naïve perceptions will wake them up.  Not even if Prabhakaran’s ghost came up and prodded them with his Made-in-Germany pistol and said ‘Thambi, you are dead wrong!’  That’s what happens when you slip or are sly.  You have to keep pretending. 
I think Brad Adams and HRW should get some real sleep.  Then and then only could they be expected to wake up.  And smell the coffee, as they say in that part of the world whose crimes against humanity are everyday affairs but defy the noses of the likes of Adams and his outfit. 
 
[Courtesy Daily News, August 4, 2011]
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