A video of shame and outrage: Responses, positions and clarifications

Video of alleged executions

The video broadcast Channel 4 last week generated a number of responses from the readership of Groundviews. Much has been written about the video, including this well thought out commentary in The Lede, the New York Times news blog. Of the many comments in response to it, this one and the Lede’s response to it stand out:

Sinhala-Indian: I think this is Tiger Propaganda. American Should be worring about their own atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. We don’t really care about Americans anyway. We got our true Indian friends to help us. Indians helped us to defeat the Tiger terrorist and they will help us to defeat this American inspired Tiger Propaganda.

LEDE BLOG REPLY: Can you explain how video obtained by a Sri Lankan Sinhalese journalist could possibly be “American-inspired propaganda,” against a military run by an American citizen? If reporting that a video exists and that charges have been made is propaganda, what role do you think journalists should play?

If the New York Times acknowledges that the Sri Lanka’s military is run by an American citizen, could it also mean that this citizen is open to investigations of war crimes under US law? What can and should the US Department of Justice and the State Department, for example, ask of this individual in response to this video, and other media reports alleging serious war crimes?

Views on Groundviews have been unsurprisingly divided on the veracity of the video. ‘Required’ notes on the one hand that,

The real issue here is that secretly most Sri Lankans might feel that the footage is probably genuine. The tragedy is that the majority of the country probably believe it was justified, and that the soldiers who might have carried this out deserve to be rewarded for meeting out such callous brutality. The LTTE did it right? So we can do it? Who started it anyway, I forget… everyone do it and the whole world just might go blind. It’s ok to kill them, just like the IDPs that no one in the country seems very concerned about, they are all probably terrorists right? Let the tamils of the north die and laugh while you do it. And lets all laugh about the fact that anyone would take such a matter seriously. Such is the state of this revolting country today; so deep its rot, so foul its soul.

Concurring, ‘JMN’ avers,

In today’s age of cell phone cameras, amateur videos like this surface everywhere documenting important events that are hidden to the mainstream media. It is up to the powers that be to investigate if it is legitimate and investigate it. If the SL government doesn’t have the capability to identify the perpetrators of the white van abductions and the journalist murders that happen right HERE, then why on earth would you demand that an independent source that has to fear for his/ her life in order to publish this video be held to such a high standard?

Why are you so naive to believe that this HAS to be fake? We all know the history and bloodiness of this country, and we all know much worse has happened and still happens. ‘83, the JVP uprisings, the IPKF stint here – we don’t have to go so far back. A certain ‘doctor’ openly attacks a TV station, and proudly accepts responsibility for the recent high profile murder of a newspaper editor – yet he is more powerful now than before. The entire nation knows the truth about this man, but he is yet not brought to justice. Would you agree that the evidence for these crimes do exist, but to no avail?

On the other hand, ‘Observer’ counters that,

Ahem, why should anyone protect the person who took such a video? Despite leaking it he still should be punished for being part of it. But it’s FAKE! That’s why they can’t verify it (conveniently)! If I had the will I could have easily concocted such a video as well. A good film director can do even better job than this shoddy attempt. Such evidence in a law of court is thrown out the window. And rightfully so Sri Lanka does not need to respond more than a statement highlighting the obvious inaccuracy of it. Plus even to investigate such a thing you need at least a small lead. Which the people responsible for this video does not provide. No date, time, who, where? NOTHING! What can the government do?

This position does little to convince ‘Das‘, who believes the video is authentic and goes on to note that “Many more atrocities were commited on tamils in the past,more brutal than this and are documented elsewhere. In 1971 and 1987/88 thousands of sinhala youth were killed by the police/army squads & even burned on tyres by the roadside. These are the same guys who faught the recent war and are quite used to commiting atrocities.”

There are also those such as Hari Narendran, who call for a meaningful investigation into the authenticity of the video based on Sri Lanka’s atrocious record of State terrorism. Hari notes (in response to a comment by ‘Observer‘),

Your reaction to this latest video is exactly what the sinhalese souths reaction was when allegations about the Trinco student murders, the diyawanna oya bodies, krishanthy kumaraswamy and numerous other cases of abuse by military personnel first emerged. Facts and history proved those to be accurate. It astounds me how many in the South who have seen and in many cases experienced the scorched earth/spare no innocents policy the army took in crushing the JVP insurgency or see even today how the police treat ppl in custody on mere suspicion, all in full view of the press and southern society, suddenly assume that the forces conduct themselves impeccably in the northern theatre, far away from prying eyes (deliberately kept away by gov’t policy). It is simply beyond belief. The video that emerged clearly has some disturbing footage that needs to be honestly investigated to verify its authenticity.

This echoes the position of Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions who stated yesterday that,

“If the government’s position is validated as a result of an inquiry, the international community can rest easy and the government will have been vindicated. There is no justification for not moving ahead with such an investigation in view of the government’s confidence that such atrocities were never perpetrated by its armed forces.”

Of interest here is a letter to Channel 4 sent by Justice Nihal Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in London. It notes inter alia,

… I wish to emphasis (sic) that Sri Lankan Government forces have never engage (sic) in such atrocities alleged in your news cast. It was the LTTE who in fact carried out unspeakable horrendous atrocities against innocent children, women and elderly people in Sri Lanka. It is strange that channel 4 news not only this time (sic) but never in the past ever (sic) dared to report on these heinous crimes of the LTTE.

One questions whether the political will in Sri Lanka to investigate the authenticity of this video is as weak as the High Commissioner’s grammar.

  • chinthana

    For a video taken by ostensibly a soldier, this footage is very very clear, with great sound. What is amazing is that the soldiers who firstly, are not allowed to carry phones even in a camp, managed to have one at the right moment to shoot such fantastic footage! Secondly, anyone who is familiar with movie making know that sound can be dubbed for almost anything! Do you guys really believe that Universal studios found a real live SHARK for JAWS?

  • chinthana

    Also, great footage of genocide, civilians being killed can be found on u tube.
    Just hit ‘Anuradhapura massacre ‘ as key words, and watch the fun unfold
    And then talk about war crimes!

  • MAL DUNUWILA

    Tamil Terrorists have killed civilians throughout the 30 years they excitted. Many are Tamils who did not agree with their tactics.
    When did the BBC and the Western Media talked about these?
    Sri Lanka has won the war. LTTE is history. LTTE money in the west could not change that.

  • D PEIRIS

    Good movie making. This must be a rehersal to a Holywood blockbuster.

  • Susan Goon

    It was a brutal war, not boy scouts out on a picnic. Nasty things happen in war, that’s given. Some very nasty things happened in the Sri Lankan war, but it is finally over. Winners take all, and victors write history. That’s the way it is, so losers (especially NGO human rights types) had better get it used to it.

    The LTTE had to be annihilated, no matter whatever the collateral damage. It was a cancer that was killing this country. It needed radiation treatment, which was delivered by Mahinda. In fact, some of us who cheered the Sinhala Buddhist cause even advocated the nuclear option for the whole of North and parts of the East as the Final Solution. If that was done, in Hiroshima style, there won’t be witnesses of any kind. Vaporized men don’t tell tales.

  • Pacifist

    What I find disturbing, in addition to the footage which is no doubt quite horrific, is that responsible journalists, and responsible citizens are happy to accept ‘evidence’ that has so obviously not been triangulated, that is openly admitted to being ‘unverified’. Personally, I think its quite possible that such incidents have happened but I also think it’s quite an indictment of our times that no one is seeing the video as depicting the brutalising effect of war. Armed conflict creates monsters on both sides – and this for me is the most important message that this video needs to bring to a society that is looking at peace and at reconciliation.

  • ethugala

    i am appalled by the comments of Susan Goon and she is a real “Goon”. yes as Sinhalese we won the war, but we have a greater war ahead of us. To bring peace to our country. End of warfare is not fulfillment of peace. how can we justify Hiroshima style massacre. How will Susan feel if it happens to her kith and kin. JVP and Sinhalese youth went through similar situation like the Tamils in north. Even dogs don’t party over dead dogs…do they? Let the government face the true facts with courage as They face the war. Whoever the soldier in the picture knows what he did. whether it is LTTE or SL army this type of brutality needs to be condemned. Those who condone to such violence will have blood on their hands too. We cannot bring the dead to life but we can prevent more being taken to death. Let us not give our souls to evil. we have become a race who claim to be Buddhist but doesn’t follow the teachings of Buddha. This is a disgrace to the valiant soldiers and will be a disgrace to them until the perpetrators are brought to justice. if it is Doctored, the government has the obligation towards the SL army to bring culprits to justice. we cannot merely disregard this. that how a responsible government should act. of course is SL government responsible, go ask a man in the street. we blame America for everything but they have much more credibility than we would like to admit. they prosecuted errant soldiers and apologized on behalf of the army. Get real sri lankans!!

  • Dutugemunu

    What a wonderful world?
    Do you still consider Channel 4 as a news channel which(who) lost it’s credentials long before the airing the dead Prabakaran’s doctored image holding a news paper in one hand,later proved a fake?As a responsible News channel did they appoligise even after KP’S admission of Prabakarn’s death?BBC is infiltrated and funded by the LTTE.Those who watch and trust chan-4 are meaner than those LTTE hooligans.IF THAT IS A GENUINE VEDEO FOOTAGE WHY DO NOT THEY GIVE IT TO UN’S WAR CRIME TRIBUNAL?because they fear the TRUTH.

  • Ticka

    Yes certainly comments are divided around this. But let me just for a minute concentrate on the hypocrisy of the United Kingdom who seem to be very anxious to prove the Srilankan government guilty. How about the time when the police killed an innocent man in the London underground just after the July 2007 bombings and covered up the incompetence of the police and MI5 officers. The UK government tried to bribe the family of the deceased keep quiet yet the family fought for a fair trial but did not get the verdict they needed as the police and the UK government it was plain to see covered up the whole thing. This was also seen in the way the lawyers representing the deceased family walked out of court in protest before the finalities. What about the times innocent Mulism men were dragged out of their houses and even shot brandishing them as terrorists luckily the man survived. I ask the UK government sort out your own miscarriages of justice before trying to accuse others. To quote Susan Goon, “Nasty things happen during war”. In cases like this even professional journalism has no say or their is a professional muzzle on things this as they say is one ugly way politics work.

  • lalgoona

    In the channel 4 commentator implied that the Sim card was smuggled out of Srilanka. I was in Srilanks couple weeks ago. I had a cell phone, cameras but no one at the airport bothered to ask what I had with me or go through electronic media. Same situation when kid returned to the US week ago. Why did they have to smuggle it out of the because nobody check electronic media for content at the Colombo airport.

  • Disgusted

    MAL DUNUWILA,

    The BBC and Western media have always reported on Tiger atrocities. In fact, the West has covered up government and army misbehaviour for 30 years. You seem to have also forgotten that the decline of the Tigers came only with the West’s branding it a terrorist outfit.

  • Mawatha Silva

    No one should downplay, excuse or explain away the inhuman treatment of prisoners as clearly shown by the video footage. Firstly, I wish to emphasize that we are all first and foremost united by our common humanity, over and above such labels as “Tamil”, “Sri Lankan”, “Jewish”, or whatever. If you do not feel any sense of compassion for your fellow man then I would invite you to look within yourself and ask why. Compassion is not to be confused with taking sides- it is the basic tenet of being human; and without it we are poorer. Secondly, to the comments which explain away the behavior captured on the video as being a hazard of war and inevitable; or that these people deserved it for previous actions, I would wholeheartedly refute this. If that was the case then once a war had begun there would be license to treat members of the opposing side however one would like. The Geneva Convention is a universally agreed set of rules set up in response to some of the atrocities committed during the Second World War (I’m sure we all know how the Nazis treated “prisoners of war”), in the hope that they would never be repeated and that a basic level of humanity could be afforded prisoners of war and civilians.

  • Daham S.

    It ia appaling to see, when reading some the above comments, where the present extremist Sri Lankan government propagnda has led the Sri Lankan society. One could really ask the question “Is our society still Budhhist or cannible?” Because NO BUDDHIST COULD APPROVE the content in this vedio. Buddhism, in its pure sense, as practised in our country, can not approve this kind of himsa or violence even against a cruel enemy. The Buddha won Angulimala , the violent murderder, not by violence, but metta – loving kindness. As far as I am concerned no Buddhist, filled with metta, mudta, karuna and upekka can watch this vedio. Niether one can approve the behavior shown in it. So are ll these people who approve such behavior NOT BUDDISTS? Or have they sadly forgotten their religion, because of the JHU which preach a diffrerent religion than the Buddha taught? Let’s stop arguing about the authenticity of this vedio and discuss the erosion on our value system since JHU monks came into the parliamnet and dragged our nation to religious and national extremism which has blinded our eyes to the truth.

  • http://Nowebsite KV

    We see such movies all the time on display at our grosary shop run by a tamil person. It is put on to “entertain” the customers. They are quite horrific but it is a shot of adrinaline for the street protests,

  • Suna Apriya

    To the creator of SUSAN GOON:

    Machan, you spoiled the soup for us. Looks like everybody wants to know who Susantha Goonatilake is and they are looking for his articles and books. Most of the new Ground Views readers had no clue who the hell he was, and now they are wondering why we are going after this bugger. I think after perusing Goonatilake’s “Recolonisation: Foreign Funded NGOs in Sri-Lanka” they have started to suspect that we are up to some kind of hanky-panky business. It looks like our coyote plan is also going down the tubes, machan.

    Let’s come up with better ideas to foil the Sinhala Buddhist “protocols”. They have their plan to take over the entire world one day; we must show them that, we, the NGOs are king.

  • Agnos

    Those who try to dismiss the video without even looking at the high likelihood that it was genuine–I certainly see it as genuine; the NYT report that it was a soldier’s souvenir and that the journalist who outed it was a Sinhalese man makes it harder to dismiss it– are showing their deeply held racism. It certainly makes it impossible to have any genuine dialog or reconciliation in Sri Lanka. For, when one party shows a deep denial of its stubborn racism, what good will any talks and reconciliation amount to?

    The SLA and the GoSL claims that it was a fabrication, without any evidence to that effect, is laughable. With its long history of atrocities, when the SLA is given wide powers to carry out a no-holds barred campaign, with no access to the media, NGO’s, even the UN, such videos should be taken as fact; it is the GoSL and its supporters who have no credibility on this matter. They stand exposed as congenital liars. One-time progressives like Dayan Jayatilleka and Rajiva Wijesinha , who supported this regime and defended the SLA, stand as naked as the victims of execution in this video.

    Tamils have always known such incidents were commonplace and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Observer

    Ahh good ol’ judgment by the media. Unverified information (ethics out the window for a juicy story). Doubts casted and judgment handed out! haha

    Spot on Chinthana. Just ask why would a soldier carry a camera phone in a battle field with no mobile reception? Especially when soldiers are NOT allowed to and can be metted out with disciplinary measures if banned items are found in possession. Maybe he wanted to call his mom when he’s shot and left to die using thin air as the transmission medium.
    Maybe he read some of those reports on the Internet how an iPhone stopped a bullet and saved a person once. They had poor Kevlar anyway.
    Do you think a platoon commander is going to route sensitive attack orders over a GSM/3G network? Oh wait there wasn’t any network.

    I wonder how he kept it charged while in make shift camps at the front line? Where electricity is a precious utility used for essential tasks only! Maybe he used an electrical lead from the on site generator, shorted it to his phone charger every night before he went out to fight. That must have been his top priority when he was going into a hail storm of bullets and artillery every day.
    Or maybe the military provided charging stations for various types of video phones at the front in return for their sacrifice. Who knows.. lol

    Gosh some people are just ………

    lalgoona, when you say SIM you mean the flash memory card right? Because a SIM can’t hold a 3GPP video. Really you don’t need to “smuggle” digital data, and frankly it’s a bit dramatic. You can simply encrypt the file and email it. But I guess it adds a certain “flavor” to the “story” ;-)

  • davidson panabokke

    We need to have evidence to prove any print/audio/video.

    What happened in Anuradhapura last year – naked bodies of LTTE cadres went on display in the public – is not very different from what you see in this video.

  • punitham

    ”Sri Lankan Government forces have never engage (sic) in such atrocities alleged in your news cast” – a retired judge

    Reports by Amnesty International and International Commission of Jurists in the last thirty years tell a different story.

  • Mawatha Silva

    These scenes, captured on video, allegedly show extra-judicial killings of Tamils by Sri Lankan troops earlier this year in the bitter and bloody endgame of the country’s civil war. The man is young, naked, bound and blindfolded; a corpse lying across his legs. A soldier approaches him in what appears to be Sri Lankan army uniform and shoots him at point-blank range, apparently amused at the death. “It’s like he jumped,” he says. After the murder the video, taken in daylight, pans out to show eight bound corpses, all shot in the head and all but one naked. Voices in the background speak Sinhalese; as the footage concludes, viewers see a ninth bound victim. The significance of this footage – particularly shocking for the seemingly casual way in which the killings were carried out – is even greater given the way that journalists and independent observers were prevented by the government from reaching the war zone. According to Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), a multiethnic exile organization, the video was taken by a soldier with a cell phone in January 2009 at Kilinochchi. Sri Lankan soldier apparently took this footage, which was then smuggled out of the country by (JDS) activists. It may constitute the first hard evidence for those who believe war crimes were committed by Sri Lanka in the effort to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

  • Gadin

    The summary execution of prisoners is a violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and a war crime. This apparent atrocity makes nonsense of Sri Lanka President Mahinda claims of a clean war against the Tamil Tigers,” said Steve Crawshaw, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “An international inquiry needs to get to the bottom of this and other war crimes committed during the past years fighting. Human Rights Watch has long criticized the government’s failure to carry out impartial investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for the numerous human rights abuses committed by both sides during the conflict. There have been serious ongoing violations of human rights, and the backlog of cases of enforced disappearances and unlawful killings runs to the tens of thousands. Only a small number of cases have ended in prosecutions. Past efforts to address violations through the establishment of ad hoc mechanisms in Sri Lanka, such as presidential commissions of inquiry, have produced little information and few prosecutions. In interview with Time magazine, Sri Lanka prs Mahinda said that during the war, “[t]here was no violation of human rights. There were no civilian casualties.” Human Rights Watch said “International Community (IC) should stop relying on the president’s promises of domestic action and make it clear that an international commission is needed if the victims of Sri Lanka’s bloody war are to find justice.”

  • Gadin

    413. P.Padmanaaabhan

    “THE ETHNIC TAMILS IN THE ISLAND OF SRI LANKA ARE FACED THE DISCRIMINATORY AND REPRESSIVE SINHALESE MAJORITY RACE OF SINHALESE WHEREAS OUR CONCERN IN THE THEN COMPOSITE MADRAS STATE WAS TO TERMINATE THE DOMINANCE OF A CERTAIN COMMUNITY OVER REST OF TAMILS”

    Well defined thought and deep analysis!! Thanks for this informative statement .

  • Veedhur

    Deep sympathies to the families of the killed and the killers. The loss and suffering is always personal, even if the cause is national or universal.

  • nimal

    There is nothing much to debate about the authenticity of this clip. If more mobile phones were available with soldiers during 89 insurgency you would have seen many JVPeers get killed in the same manner. Luckily Wimal Weerawansa escaped. There was no difference how LTTE killed TV crew which were in their captivity. JVP activist killed innocent people in more gruesome manner than this? Those who support wars of any form bring brutality to the society.

  • Susan Goon

    “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” – Joseph Stalin. Mahinda did what he had to do, and in the long run, history will judge him more fairly. We must remember that Mahinda is merely continuing the great Emperor Ashoka’s tradition and doctrine: killings on a massive scale is forgiven if it is for a good cause. And what better cause than preservation of Buddhism?

  • Jehiel Iscariot

    Susan Goon,

    All your talk about Buddhism and Ashoka will have no effect in the long run. You see, Armageddon will be here soon, and all non-believers will perish under Jehovah’s righteous sword. Just like the Noah’s Ark, there will be another ship arriving shortly to save us from Buddhist sinners like you. Christianity will then rule over the entire planet and all you sinners will burn in hell for eternity.

    Wherever I go I carry a Bible with me, and, thus, I am saved. I am saved because the Lord is on our side, and He has laid down the Law. We, the righteous, know that we must abide by His rules and His rules only.

    The non-Buddhists – especially us Christians – have never fought in the name of religion. We are pure in our hearts and are against all forms of deviancy: homosexuality, abortion, rock music, counter culture, nudity in art, having children out of wedlock, co-ed schools etc…

    Oh, Lord, save us from the Buddhist peril.

    Susan Goon, one day, Lanka will be under the rule of Jehovah. Hell and damnation for the rest of you! Muahahahahahahaha!

  • http://panhinda-samaga.blogspot.com Migara

    @ Jehiel Iscariot

    I am trying to figure out whether this is a joke or not.

  • Disgusted

    Susan Goon,
    Didn’t Ashoka practice non-violence and stop all the killings after he converted to Buddhism? Isn’t there a troubling contradiction in resorting to violence to spread or preserve a religion that preaches non-violence?

    You’ve really chosen a most apt name for yourself.

  • K.Anaga

    Instead of arguing about the authenticity of the footage, it will clear all peoples mind,if the S:L government will allow the human right activist to investigate the happening in the war zone and the IDP camps. Why is the government not willing to do so? Have they got “SKELETONS” in their cupboards or elsewhere?.

  • Mawatha Silva

    Susan Goon please talk about Buddhism and Ashoka . And write even more about it. i’m very intrested.. I’m all ears : )
    Nowadays the buddas teaching are not practiced in Sri Lanka. How can any committed buddhist who live his live according to buddhas teaching on one hand and on another imprison 300,000 innocent civilians without trial in so called “welfare centers” that are concentration camps in all but name. 60 000 of them are small children. Is this the level of hmaithriya of the compassion and human concern for fellow human beings? How many buddist monks are praying for their oppressed Tamil countrymen? None… no one….. Ok .. let’s examine the Sri Lanka, as “supremely buddhist nation” and capture its’ ethno-religious-political landscape. A history of peaceful cohabitation marred by suspicions, tensions and blood letting and there is unquestioning support of the clergy and devotees for the new ‘king’ Mahinda of the Sinhala-Buddhist race. Buddhism is the most peaceful religion where the teachings condone loving kindness and cohabitation with all living beings. However in actuality Sri Lanka Buddhists are ruthlessly oppressing the Tamil minority with complete disregard to their human rights. Why these apparent contradictions between religion and practice are accepted and no one speaks or comments on these happenings

  • Susan Goon

    Oka thamai api kiwwe. Apith ekka be kiwwe!

    We will beat the daylights out of Tamils whether in the jungles of Wanni or concrete jungles of Hulftsdorp.

    Today, we nailed one foreign NGO-funded so-called journalist cheerleader for Tamil terror named Tissainayagam. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/world/asia/01lanka.html

    Tomorrow, we will deal with other similar traitors such as Sanjana Hattotuwa, the editor of Groundview, and his mafia godfather Paki Saravanamuttu. The patriots will not rest until we have cleansed this land of all parasites of your kind.

  • Nikhil

    I guess the video of the LTTE suicide bomber blowing herself up at the EPDP ofices was not a video of “shame and outrage” that deserved a special post on groundviews.

  • Veera

    Jehiel Iscariot, Good Joke man!

    to Peter Russell (The comedian), Sorry man it’s time take a break!

  • http://www.groundviews.org groundviews

    Sent to GV via email:

    Video of summary execution by armed forces

    Yes, the video could be fabricated or true. Sadly, it is the righteous attitude of the government that casts a doubt on their integrity. Total and instantaneous denial of an alleged crime without genuine concern to investigate its authenticity casts grave doubts on a regime’s integrity. It is irrational to deny that any armed forces are beyond reproach as the brutality of war invariably tends to blur the distinction between humane and inhumane conduct of combatants.
    Combatants often regret their excesses and suffer severe post war psychological trauma as a consequence of atrocities committed in the course of battle. However, atrocities of war need to be investigated and addressed in a just manner in order to vindicate the victims as well as punish the offenders in context of the circumstances. A recent movie titled “Waltz with Bashir’ provides a true and vivid account of psychological trauma suffered by a soldier during the 1982 Lebanon war and his resultant state of amnesia and denial which he finally came to terms with through painful recollection. This is the tragedy of war which all civilized society must try hard to avoid through the rational conduct of conflict resolution through negotiation and reconciliation.
    If the GOSL is genuinely concerned in achieving just and equitable peace and reconciliation, then they must diligently address all accusations of human rights abuses and war crimes in a transparent and accountable manner leaving no room to doubt their integrity. It is only then that we as a nation can hope to achieve social stability, peace and progress for all Sri Lankans.

    **********************
    Concerned Citizen
    August 31, 2009

  • Jehiel Iscariot

    Susan Goon,

    You will do no such thing. Our Lord is watching over non-believers like you. Ground Views is fortified by our Lord, and no serpent from the outside will ever enter His new Garden of Eden on Earth.

    The Sinhala Buddhists will have no chance when judgment day arrives. The Almighty will separate the good from the bad, and you can be assured that everyone on Ground Views will fly up, up, up – straight like a rocket – into the sky, and live forever in the bosom of our Lord. The good people on Ground Views are committed to God’s work, and the Lord has made sure they will join his army of angels soon.

    We, the righteous, have been taught right from wrong unlike all you weird Buddhists with your kalama sutra. Buddha did not even believe in God. What kind of a man would encourage young people to question their own culture/customs/religion/beliefs?

    You poor Buddhists, the word of our Lord is given to us in one book: the Bible. We have the Truth on our side, and the Lord will strike down anyone who rejects the Bible.

    Ground Views: the Lord is on YOUR side.

  • SomeOne

    Dear Disgusted,

    Are you the “SomeWhatDisgusted”? Probably you became totally “Disgusted” after seeing some comments! Good to hear. I wish to enhance your comment on what Susan Goon said.

    King Asoka became Buddhist after seeing the consequence of “Kalinga war”. Before Buddha, in India, Brahmins sacrificed lives (lambs, in Old Testament style) in temples and ate those “Prasathams”. Brahmins changed that tradition (sacrifices) only after Buddha.

    This is the power of true Buddhism. Probably, Goon is talking about different brand of Buddhism!

  • leon

    An International inquiry will solve this problem once and for all. We then do not have to speculate as to whether the video clip is a fake or genuine. Sri Lanka can vindicate itself by agreeing to such an investigation. We can then close the chapter and get on with our lives.The question is will SL agree to such an investigation?.

  • Suna Apriya

    To the creator of SUSAN GOON:

    Now, now machan, no more threatening letters. Have you already started one for Sanjana ? If so, don’t use the names of animals that are not indigenous to SrLanka. You know, bro, we’ve already become the butt of the joke.

    Though we think we are westernized, progressive and hip, many of those Sinhala Buddhists are way ahead of us. We, the westernized crowed, are so middleclass. Tell me machan, how did the middle class mentality get so deeply entrenched in us? You know it’s corrupting us from the inside. And, also, brother- however much we may make a ruckus about equality and justice- in our hearts we know our “justice” is one-sided.

  • Jehiel Iscariot

    Mr. Mawatha Silva,

    You are absolutely right Mr. Mawatha Silva. Only in Sri Lanka is there a contradiction between religion and practice. All other countries treat their citizens with equality and justice – according to what is written in their respective religious texts. Their governments are truly committed to following religious laws, and they have made all their citizens into God fearing members of society. Have you ever heard of any corruption, whatsoever, in God fearing countries? Not surprisingly, there is corruption, poverty, immorality, inequality and degradation only in Sri-Lanka. Other countries never deal with these types of issues because they obey God’s rules right to a tee.

    How dare some Buddhists accuse Adam and Eve of incest, when Buddhists don’t even have a God? These crazy Buddhists believe that our planet is billions of years old; but, we non-Buddhists, especially Christians, know that God created Earth only five thousand years ago. How dare those Egyptian archaeologists try to prove us otherwise?

    Yes, Mr. Mawatha Silva, true Buddhists will not have a country, a religion, a flag, a race and identity, and will not procreate. Didn’t Buddha tell them to practice renunciation? How dare they try to live like the rest of us? Only WE – the God fearing types – are entitled to the above.

    We must get together and pray so that these Sinhala Buddhists will renounce everything, and the entire world will be happy and peaceful once again! Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

    God bless Mr. Mawatha Silva

  • alladin

    http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2009/08/31/channel-4-tv-must-eat-its-digits-%E2%80%93-fake-execution-video-exposed

    “Siri Hewa, the former head of Cisco’s global broadcast and digital video practice, at Present I am executive Director at IPTV System, who currently serves as the chief architect of Optus’ Network Systems Design Broadcast and Satellite TV operation has uncovered evidence of doctoring in the original footage telecast by the Channel 4. It shows the extent to which the bosses of Channel 4 go in combining malice and ignorance in equal measure.

    “Looking at the footage first thing I found strange was the high quality of the video, lack of cascading effects and motion blur that associate with mobile video coding. I got hold of the original video that was in QuickTime format as well as the other that was in AVI format and decided to put through various analysers to see origin of the video from the mobile source.

    Looking at the results, I can say this video never came from a mobile phone, since the original video is of quite high standard and motion vectors were of high quality ( that never come from mobile phone) and I also found that the Tamilnet tried to put this video in 3GPP format which is associated with mobile phones

  • President Bean

    chinthana…who killed over 10,000 sinhala youth in 1970/71?
    Who killed over 60,000 sinhala youth during 1987, 1988, 1989?
    Who killed Lasantha and burnt the MTV/MBC TV station?
    Aliens or ‘International Conspiritors?’ or the Sinhala armed forces!

    The Americans call their country, ‘The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!’
    We should call Sri Lanka, ‘The Land of the Majority and the Home of the Hypocrites!’

  • http://panhinda-samaga.blogspot.com Migara

    //Who burnt the MTV/MBC TV station?

    Apparently it was done by themselves to receive insurance money. All of there valuables have been shifted to Ratmalana before the incident. It has been such a joke, even Sirasa don’t talk about it now.

  • Candidly

    Of course these sorts of things happen in war, the real shock is that someone actually seems to have filmed it. Right now in the Western press you’ll find a number of uncritical accounts of executions of Taliban supporters in the Swat valley in Pakistan (e.g. “Swat: ‘Who is next to be killed'” on BBC internet news). Is anyone in the West calling for an enquiry into these extra-judicial killings in Pakistan? Of course not, because the war against the Taliban is being driven by the West, while the war against the Tamil Tigers was opposed by much of the West.

  • SomeOne

    This is “Zero causality” all about.

    If any one died in this “war against terrorism” there can be only two kinds of death.

    Any one who died in this war is either,

    1.Terrorist OR
    2.Any one else who died due to the terrorist fire, motor or any terrorist activity.

    If any one caught in the cross fire and died those deaths fall in category 2 death too.

    I am of the opinion that this footage loses its significant. In other wards, the out come of this investigation is irrelevant here. Even if it is true, we are shooting terrorist. That is what we were telling before. Our objective is to kill as many terrorist as possible. Doesn’t matter how we kill them.

  • Observer

    Spot on Nikhil, headlines like “shame and outrage” were not to be seen when LTTE was cleansing rest of Sri Lanka with their suicide bombs. Can’t help but feel a little bias. Epic fail!

  • President Bean

    Observer…the Mig bomb begets the Suicide bomb!

  • Gadin

    The responsibility is on the government of Sri Lanka to demonstrate that a video of this quality and this apparent authenticity is in fact a fake. It is certainly not getting UN anywhere to simply dismiss it out of hand. There is a clear onus on the Sri Lanka government to demonstrate the validity of their claim. Also you have to bear in mind that the Sri Lankan government imposed a comprehensive press and other blackout on the entire war area, so there were no immediate reports. There were very few reports from any other sources. Nonetheless, there has been a series of allegations about widespread killings in the last few months of the war. Those killings have led to a number of calls for the Sri Lankan Government to investigate, to permit an independent international investigation to take place. However, to this date, there has been no response.

  • Ananda Mayadunne

    I fully support Susan Goon!

    As a proud Sinhala-Buddhist, I am totally against the reign of any other group of people or culture in my country. I agree that nuclear war should have been used to wipe out the separatist population of the north-east. After all, did not the Mahavansa Sangha priesthood assure King Dutugemunu that all those creatures he had killed in his war to overthrow the Elara kingdom and capture Anuradhapura were not humans?
    Just as the Americans did not hesitate to wipe out Hiroshima, we should hesitate to wipe out kilinochchi or Wellawatta for that matter.

    If our armed forces could slaughter good Sinhala buddists at the command of Premadasa-JR in the 1980s, then it is but right that they slaughter non-Buddhist separatist chauvinists in the North-East.

    Jaya Veva! Long live Sinhala-Buddhist civilisation! May a pure SInhala-Buddhist Sri Lanka thrive!

  • http://panhinda-samaga.blogspot.com Migara
  • Norman Grace

    Anything is fair in war and love. After all this war is made for the love of Sri Lankan Tamils who were terrorised by the terrorists. There is a proverb that one whoever taken sword will die of sword. The fate of those who took up arms against innocent unarmed civilians will have to face the same by themselves. Now what would happen to those who use indirect violence ti kill the innocent civilians. armed groups in North and South used direct violence which is denounced and condemned by all. The state is using structural violence where innocent civilians are being killed dat by day under the petense and branding as terrorists. What will happened to them. Is there any provision in any natural laws they willalso face the same fate? Who has the answer. Now the barrels of structural violence have taken a U turn. The next generation only will have to face the consequences of the undemocratic acts of the present.

  • Observer

    President Bean,

    Not when the bomb falls on Thamil Chelvam, Not when the bomb falls on ammunition dumps, Not when the bomb falls on LTTE intel HQ, Not when the bomb falls on Prabakaran’s bunker and the list goes on!
    You can;t argue but the bombs fell on the right places and that’s why the LTTE is no more. I know that pains you somewhat. Cry me a river!

  • Heshan

    “Just as the Americans did not hesitate to wipe out Hiroshima, we should hesitate to wipe out kilinochchi or Wellawatta for that matter.”

    If the Americans had hesitated to wipe out Hiroshima only one other path would have been possible – a land invasion. Considering that the Japanese had given its citizens weapons training and physically outfitted them to fight, and that Japanese always fought to the death, it is fair to assume that a land invasion would have resulted in more than 2 million Japanese deaths. Then again, patriots like you, with no proper understanding of history, would probably still come along and whine about 2 million Japanese deaths.

    Now here is the alternative: if America had not fought Japan, Japan would probably have invaded India, and by extension, conquered Sri Lanka. Considering what the Japanese did to native populations, I doubt that egotistical buggers like you would even be alive today.

  • Heshan

    “Even if it is true, we are shooting terrorist.”

    Today you are shooting terrorists, tomorrow you are shooting Lasantha W, maybe the next day it will be Sanjana H. Then no more “Groundviews” for you to display your patriotism. Oops. This is the problem with your definition; when you start shooting everyone blindly, who is a terrorist and who is not a terrorist becomes harder and harder to define. That is why we should let the Courts handle these matters. Soldiers and Judges do not mix together at parties.

  • Jehiel Iscariot

    Ananda Mayadune: the doppelganger of Susan Goon,

    I am in agreement with you. You should bring more Mahavansa stories and all that religious bullshi*t or whatever else to expose those racist Sinhala Buddhists. Get more buddies of yours to post comments of this nature at least five per each article. They don’t have to know much English; repeating the same thing would be fine! Just remind them to quote something from George Orwell or Bernard Shaw. In this way you, and your friends, can show people how well read and intelligent you all are. Other commentators who want to write something sincere will be left confounded by your ‘flash in the pan’ analysis.

    Yes, make this site just for nincompoops.

    Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

  • SomeOne

    Hi “Heshan”

    Noo, Noo, Noo,…. We don’t shoot any one like that.
    We are very good people. Don’t you know that?
    Relax.

  • word

    Alternative news article of the week:
    Children relate joyous experiences in no-fire zone

    Tamil children interviewed by the ministry of defence spoke of the pleasant experience of war in the no-fire zone in the war in which not one civilian was killed earlier this year. The children related how, compared to the jackboot of the LTTE and child recruitment, heavy bombardment and shrapnel wounds were a walk in the park. “We don’t know what UNICEF is talking about”, said one child “it was totally fantastic and worth losing a leg over. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire offensive and anyone who thinks being aerially bombarded is a negative experience has to be a lunatic. or even worse a terrorist… or even worse than that, a member of the “underworld””. A government official added: “They must be getting paid by the LTTE, everyone knows about their elastic bank accounts that seem to be paying 20% of the country and 80% of foreign journalists covering the country today to say bad things about the government. Even though the brave Army has vanquished them completely this bank account seems hugely active. Now they are even paying the muslims to complain.”

  • myil selvan

    Many a reaction, not surprised
    Many a denial, not improvised

    Many a talk, not surprised
    Many an action, not provided

    Many an assumption, not surprised
    Many an accusation, not mesmerized

    Many a misrepresentation, not surprised
    Many a slur, not petrified

    Many a pronouncements, not surprised
    Many an implementors, surprise me?

    TALK they say is Cheap! And some take GV for that
    But those who believe in Discussion take GV for what it is

  • chinthana

    The level the UK journos go to practise gutter journalism is beyond…..
    Will they at least have the courtesy to apologise now that the original has come to light? or will they find the original of the original of the fake?

  • Observer

    let’s see what the UN has to say about this

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jRwkES6u4769fM7lSNR9BZoIyp2w

    bet no inquiries would come up! cuz it’s coalition forces.

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    Sri Lankan war crimes video is authentic, Times investigation finds – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6956569.ece

  • Suren Ranasinghe

    How can the Channel 4 video be authentic? It is a Western conspiracy to tarnish the image of Mother Lanka!

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews
  • Off the Cuff

    Groundviews,

    If Philip Alston carried out this investigation before shooting his mouth off on 17 Sept 2009 and making premature pronouncements, he would have been more credible today.

    Now his impartiality would be questionable as he looks like a person with a wounded ego trying to get back at the Govt of SL.

    As it is, he tries to down play the suspicious events in the video

    Extract from UN web site
    He added that there are a small number of characteristics of the video which the experts were unable to explain, including the movement of certain victims in the video, 17 frames at the end of the video, and the date of 17 July 2009 encoded in the video (the conflict was officially declared over in May 2009).

    “Each of these characteristics can, however, be explained in a manner entirely consistent with the conclusion that the videotape appears to be authentic,” noted a news release also issued today.

    “In sum, while there are some unexplained elements in the video, there are strong indications of its authenticity. In addition, most of the arguments relied upon by the Government of Sri Lanka to impugn the video have been shown to be flawed.”

    He also complained that the SL Govt report was not made available in its entirety. The reports of his experts are also not available on the UN web (please post a link if anyone can find it)

    What he downplays is the movement of some victims and the encrypted date etc

    The earlier investigation commissioned by the Times of UK was mentioned by GV. The Times was caught with its pants down when they ran several stories giving photo analysis and claiming 20,000 civilian deaths.

    This cunning publicity stunt interposes pictures of non war affected areas with war affected areas misleading the reader with a cunning commentary.

    A letter sent to the Times (not published by them) is available on GV at the link below as an answer to Mawatha Silva who seems to have no difficulty posting on Times on line as the shear number of posts authored by him appearing on that web site shows. Counter views are hopelessly out numbered and the imbalance is there for anyone to see. http://www.groundviews.org/2009/09/28/doing-the-right-thing-freedom-for-vanni-idps/#comment-9618

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      @Off the Cuff, Alston’s technical note can be read here, and the appendix can be read here.

  • Off the Cuff

    Groundviews,

    Thank you for the two links. The supposedly unedited version of the video that has been subject to scrutiny by Alston’s experts is also available on the web.

    I looked for a Govt response and its available here http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20100109_03

    Alston had not given an opportunity for the experts used by the SL Govt to respond to the charges made by his experts.

    What is your opinion regarding the Govt response about Alston’s behavior?

  • Off the Cuff

    Jehiel Iscariot,

    “You poor Buddhists, the word of our Lord is given to us in one book: the Bible. We have the Truth on our side, and the Lord will strike down anyone who rejects the Bible”.
    That is what you wrote on September 1, 2009 @ 1:32 am

    That ONE book is not WRITTEN by God but a collection of hearsay by over 40 writers and edited by the Church before publishing.

    According to your scripture the ONLY document claimed to be written by GOD are the stone tablets containing the 10 commandments. Have a GOOD look at the Second commandment
    “Exodus 20:4-6 You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my Commandments.”

    Over 50% of Christians are Catholic and the Catholic Church has deleted the second commandment and is acting contrary to it

    Beware, God will take Revenge not only from you if you are a Catholic or an Unbeliever but even the yet unborn Great Great Grand child of yours.

    Please learn not to attack Religion on a Public Forum.

    You have attacked Buddhism.

    What a Buddhist will have to say in defense of Buddhism would not be very palatable to you or those who think like you.

    ——————–
    Susan Goon,

    “some of us who cheered the Sinhala Buddhist cause even advocated the nuclear option”
    Thats what you stated on August 29, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

    This war was waged to rid the country of Terrorism and had nothing to do with ANY religion

    Hence please don’t drag religion into it

  • wijayapala

    Groundviews,

    Sri Lankan war crimes video is authentic

    Could you specify what you mean by “authentic?” Were the individuals in the video demonstrated to have been members of the SL armed forces? In fact, assuming that the videotape itself was not doctored and that the guns contained real bullets killing real people, is there anything in the clip that can serve as a starting point for an investigation into war crimes (i.e. unit name and number)???

    If not, how is the video authentic?

  • Jehiel Iscariot’s alter ego

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    You have definitely jumped to the wrong conclusion here. Don’t you think Jehiel Iscariot was merely lampooning religious zealots? If you learn to read between the lines I am sure you will find a vastly different message in Jehiel Iscariot’s hell-fire sermon.

    Jehiel Iscariot was responding to Ananda Mayadune and Susan Goon – who are clearly set up to bash Sinhala Buddhists – and also to that Mawatha Silva.
    So, please, go through all the comments on this article carefully before you deliver your verdict.

  • Agnos

    wijayapala,

    I saw your question to Groundviews and thought I would add a note..
    The GoSL’s so-called experts, far from taking the video seriously, dismissed it as fake. The GoSL, with its doctoring artists at Asian Tribune and elsewhere, even said that the video was doctored from an earlier video by the LTTE that they had known or was available on the web.

    What Alston’s experts have shown is that every claim by the GoSL ‘s “experts” was false and a lie.; the Lankan experts have been shown to be clueless or worse–cheats. That the GoSL utterly lacks credibility is not something new for those of us who have known it for 20+ years, but now on an international stage, you can’t lie your way out as you do in Colombo. It is hilarious to see how Bogols..and Samarasinghe reacted to Alston’s findings.

    As for the unit number of the soldier pulling the trigger, etc., simply starting an investigation will reveal it. It is easy to find out who at JDS submitted it and from whom they got it. And the soldier at the video is easy to identify quickly within the SLA. Their human resources would have a picture database, and any standard facial recognition software will find high likelihood matches. I think many Sinhalese, in their misguided ‘patriotism’ are willing to stoop low enough to defend the lies and cover ups of the Rajapaksa regime.

    Simply proving that GoSL’s claims are a lie adds urgency for an independent international investigation. What the GoSL and its supporters fear is that such an investigation will indeed verify the Tamil claim that this video is just the tip of the iceberg. I think many Sri Lankans know deep down SL forces indulged in grave war crimes but want it all covered up. This kind of “end justifying the means” is just a mirror image of the LTTE.

    By the way, in an earlier thread, you had asked why I could not reveal how the diaspora could influence events on the ground in SL. The “how” is intimately related to how war crimes will be prosecuted; so until such prosecution is successful, I don’t want to reveal any methods the diaspora may use.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Groundviews,

    You asked Observer, Migara and Suren Ranasinghe a very pointed question

    “What do you have to say now? ”

    I believe that Philip Alston either has an Axe to Grind with the Govt of SL or is in the pockets of the LTTE.

    After studying the Video (purportedly the unedited original version available on the net) named videodj.3gp (1.61 MB in size) which probably is the same video named “Video DJ.3gp” by Alston’s experts AND their reports (kindly provided by you), I observe that no attempt has been made to investigate ALL AVENUES available for impartial Forensic analysis.

    The aim seems to have primarily been to discredit the SL experts commissioned by the SL Govt.

    Before I state my reasons I would like to know your opinion about Alston not giving an opportunity for the SL experts to respond to his own experts, who refuted the SL experts by name, before going public. This by the way is the Govt position http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20100109_03

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    Hello everyone,

    We finally discovered the official download links to Alston’s technical reports, which we had earlier uploaded to GV after getting it via email. Both the docs are hosted on the website of The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

    Technical note can be downloaded here – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/executions/docs/TechnicalNote.doc

    The appendix can be downloaded here – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/executions/docs/TechnicalNoteAppendix.pdf

  • Observer

    @Observer @Migara @Suren Ranasinghe,

    UN expert concludes that Sri Lankan video is authentic, calls for an independent war crimes investigation.

    What do you have to say now?

    I did not see this, the comments system here sucks because you can’t track your old comments. This is why for the life of me I can;t understand why gv wouldn’t implement comments systems like Disqus that is being adopted in leading blogs. Anyway…….

    Of course Alston says he never spoke to these people before. How can he prove this? It’s his word.
    Of course he has everything to lose by commissioning his own investigation and finding out that it isn’t suspect. So what did you expect. Had the experts said it was likely fake then he would’ve kept mum. How do we know how many experts he consulted until he met the ones that seconded his biased opinion? Commissioning this investigation was like him looking up and spitting. Are you SURPRISED that he and the experts came to this conclusion?
    It’s a shody video and expert opinion can go either way, depending on the analyst.

    The report starts with saying..

    Image Authentication” Version 1.0 2007.06.041, establishing the authenticity of a disputed multimedia (video and audio) recording to a high degree of scientific certainty is highly problematic, particularly when provenance of the recording cannot be verified, as is the case with the subject of this analysis.

    That sets the foundation from which we should take the conclusions. The conclusion is it APPEARS authentic. Appearing doesn’t mean it’s true. Read the whole thing and lot of assumptions are made in favor of it being authentic. How bias!

    The Sri Lankan expert had a very technical analysis as well which investigated, motion vectors, audio markers and simple aspects such as resolutions. I can’t find the link to that report now. I will if I find it again and compare notes.

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how inconclusive this evidence is. A competent lawyer would shriek at the idea of going for a conviction with such a report.

    I know groundviews, that for you it only takes a sniff of a proof to believe something. I’m sorry I belong to an entirely different school. Still aint buying it! Fishy how this came especially after SF made some remarks.. haha

  • Observer

    I shrieked when reading paragraphs like this which conveniently make assumptions against the government. Ahh the good ol guilty until poven innocent path aye..

    According to the metadata retrieved from the file submitted for analysis, encoded dates and tagged dates for both video and audio components indicate the recording was made on July 17, 2009 at 09:06:47 UTC (Universal Time Coordinated), also known as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or Zulu
    Time. This time, if correct, would be 14:36:47 local time in Sri Lanka based on the standard offset of GMT + 5.5 hours (Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Sri Lanka). The encoded date is well after the alleged date of the incident and, if accurate, would tend to discredit the recording’s authenticity at first glance. However, the encoded date is not conclusive evidence of the actual recording date and time, because it is derived from the device’s time and date setting, which, according to documentation obtained for representative Philips mobile phone devices sold and/or operable in Sri Lanka (see attached Philips Xenium X710 Manual, Pg. 8), can be set by the user to any desired date and time, irrespective of time and date references that may or may not be transmitted by the mobile phone network.

    Indeed, it is possible that the individual who used the device to record these events may have deliberately altered the time and date settings to provide plausible deniability of his/her participation in and/or knowledge of the incident.

    I nearly chocked my self when reading the last bit. Imaginary fellow changed the phone’s date to a future date because he had a premonition that the video was going to leak one day.

    Good god! Evil has finally settled in UN. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!
    Alston looked like a fool when he first went gun ho with this unverified video and now he’s trying to save face. Whatever…
    At least he’s doing wonders ruining SF campaign with this stunt. Only good thing to come out of this charade.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Groundviews,

    I invite your attention again to my post addressed to you http://www.groundviews.org/2009/08/29/a-video-of-shame-and-outrage-responses-positions-and-clarifications/comment-page-2/#comment-12925 requesting for your opinion regarding Alston’s impropriety in going public with a censure on the SL Experts’ opinion without first giving a chance to the SL experts to answer the charges leveled against them by Alston’s own Experts under the cover of the UN.

    “Observer” has responded to your query with valid arguments and I am waiting to see your stance before placing my observations before the GV readership. I hope that Migara and Suren will also join this discussion (you could email the to join).

    So what do you have to say?

    By the way, the video subjected to the analysis is not available on the www2.ohchr.org web site (why it was omitted is also a question) but a video with a similar name is available on a Tamil web site with LTTE leanings.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Agnos,

    Thank you for your response, but you did not answer my main question. My question was not, “Was the video altered?” or “Was that person really shot?” but “Were the individuals in the video demonstrated to have been members of the SL armed forces?”

    As for the unit number of the soldier pulling the trigger, etc., simply starting an investigation will reveal it. It is easy to find out who at JDS submitted it and from whom they got it.

    Really? I went to their blog and found absolutely no information regarding the execution- no location, no date/time, nothing! Would it have greatly compromised the JDS to at least mention the unit that was involved?

    And the soldier at the video is easy to identify quickly within the SLA. Their human resources would have a picture database, and any standard facial recognition software will find high likelihood matches.

    The only footage I’ve seen is from Channel 4 on youtube, and it only showed the soldiers’ backs.

    I did find it rather odd that the “SLA” executioners were wearing two different uniforms, and the rather ignorant Channel 4 newsman clearly didn’t grasp this when he claimed that they were wearing SLA uniforms (nor did he consider that the LTTE used SLA uniforms for infiltration, nor that the LTTE had pretty good Sinhala language schools).

    I think many Sinhalese, in their misguided ‘patriotism’ are willing to stoop low enough to defend the lies and cover ups of the Rajapaksa regime.

    Not too different from the many Tamils (and others) who were willing to stoop low to defend the lies and coverups of the LTTE, no? But can you determine that I am one of those Sinhalese, simply because I question the authenticity of the JDS video?

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    @Off the Cuff, sorry for the delay in responding.

    It’s hardly surprising that the LTTE will jump on this video and Alston’s comments. That it has, ignoring its own outrageous, well documented killing of civilians (see the many reports put out by UTHR-J) does not in any way erode significant concerns over the authenticity of this video and what it depicts.

    The GoSL earlier claimed, through its own experts, that the video itself was a fake, and that there was no way it could have been taken on a mobile phone. This claim has been disproved by the independent experts commissioned by Alston, and we seem to recall that in the video of the press conference he organised, he mentions that the phone was a Philips.

    To us, that the video itself (and again, not the events depicted) has been proved to be authentic, through forensics conducted by The Times and by the UN, suggests that the experts of the GoSL were examining an incorrect video.

    In fact, this was a claim made by Tamilnet back in September 2009, in an article that noted that “Sri Lanka’s technological refutation of the authenticity of a video of Army (SLA) soldiers executing unarmed Tamil men broadcast by Channel 4 in August is based on a processed video-file taken from the broadcaster’s website, rather than the original mobile phone footage”. Click here for full article (access through proxy if in Sri Lanka). This story also has a link to the zip file of the “original” .gp3 video file, from which it is claimed in the article that websites such as Channel 4 derived the web version of the video, upon which the GoSL investigation was based.

    On the question of protocol, UN SG Ban Ki Moon was asked the same question, and his answer was that “[Alston] is the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council. He is acting independently. You might have heard statements made by the Sri Lankan Government and his own personal one. We will review all these situations.” Again, this can and must be contested. We look to the GV readership to tell us what existing protocols govern UN and State interactions in the case of a Special Rapporteur’s findings of this nature, given the SG’s comments above that suggests the independent authority of such a person and the framework for her / his work as enumerated by the UN here.

    Observer’s comments contain questions only Alston can answer. Observer assumes we would “have kept mum” had the video been proved false. This is incorrect. We are open to meaningful investigations that prove it is inauthentic. We do not simplistically propose that just because the video is authentic, what is *depicted* is true. We strongly call for and support a meaningful, independent investigation into the video and its contents from the SL state, if only because no one save for a select few were aware of what went on in the Vanni in the final stages of the war. This is not to support some vast conspiracy for regime change. We believe accountability for war crimes is important, if such were committed, and by whoever they were committed. We also know that proving war crimes charges in international law is no small feat, and that any judgement or investigation in this regard cannot be pegged to a single contested video, pro-LTTE or pro-SLA eye-witness accounts or reports from NGOs even if they are from such reputed sources as the UTHR-J. We also do not believe, given the history of such investigations in Sri Lanka as brought out in this report by AI, that one headed by the incumbent government will be any more impartial than those in the past conducted by the State. This is why we believe that a meaningful investigation into this video serves as an entry point to a larger process of truth-seeking. We also submit that robust discussions around this video are important, which is why the original post flagged key strands of thought regarding the video as noted by various readers at the time.

    With Alston’s latest findings and comments, we were keen to re-engage GV readership on an issue that had gone dormant for a while. Useful in this regard would be to engage the pointed comment of Agnos here.

    FYI, the government’s technical analysis and refutation of the video as authentic can be found on the MoD website here. Technically, it would be useful to get Siri Hewawitharana, former head of Cisco’s global broadcast and digital video practice, who did this analysis, to respond to the technical reports of Alton’s investigation, and that which was conducted by The Times.

  • Heshan

    @Groundviews:

    It is not just a matter of the Sri Lankan investigators viewing the wrong footage. Alston specifically said that two of the investigators were themselves ex-members of the Army. Talk about lack of impartiality! More generally, it is known that all three members of the Sri Lankan “investigation team” had connections to GOSL. The fact that their investigation did not even suggest the slightest possibility that the tape might be authentic should speak volumes. Note how the three investigators that Alston chose readily revealed the possibility of gaps in their own investigations.

  • Observer

    The GoSL earlier claimed, through its own experts, that the video itself was a fake, and that there was no way it could have been taken on a mobile phone. This claim has been disproved by the independent experts commissioned by Alston, and we seem to recall that in the video of the press conference he organised, he mentions that the phone was a Philips.

    Wow! Simply wow! Let’s get back to some basics… This claim has not been proven to the technically literate.

    Rule No. 1: You cannot technically prove authenticity of any digital content unless it was digitally signed at the time of release using a public and private key. Even then it can be tampered with if the private encryption key is compromised by the author but can be ruled out due to very low probability of decrypting in a short time span using brute force techniques.

    Having said this common video files unlike digital documents do not have built in capability to be digitally signed. Using some sort of Digital Rights Management would have been the closest option but DRM is not something average Joes use when producing armature video.

    Finally no one would want to sign such a video so we can expect with a reasonable degree of common sense that it was never going to have irrefutable digital finger prints of authenticity.

    Having said this, first and foremost to keep in mind IS of the fact that unsigned digital content cannot be ruled out of the notion of being tampered with beyond reasonable doubt.

    Once you extract the raw image & sound data, anyone can re-wrap it in another digital container representing any file format of any device with signature attributes of the specific device. All you have to do is to create a sample video from a target device and then cut & paste its header data with appropriate meta tags into the raw data. This can be done with simple hex editor or for the skilled hackers among us, using a binary editor! Eventually all you have is a dump of 0s and 1s.

    And any digitally savvy person knows that the only way you can ensure authenticity of a unique series of 0s and 1s is through data encryption. Which is why this was quoted as a disclaimer so the less know ledged wouldn’t come to gasping conclusions, risking unnecessary heart attacks!

    Image Authentication” Version 1.0 2007.06.041, establishing the authenticity of a disputed multimedia (video and audio) recording to a high degree of scientific certainty is highly problematic, particularly when provenance of the recording cannot be verified, as is the case with the subject of this analysis.

    At least they knew the basic stumbling block at hand.

    From there on, aligning an audio track with a sequence of image frames can be done quite precisely at millisecond intervals by a competent editor with the right tools. And the audio signature of a kalashnikov can be reproduced using… of course a Kalashnikov! The world’s most popular fire arm. Who can’t get their hands on one of them? Give one of our police aiyaa’s a lil somethin somethin and you got some guaranteed solid fun. With a recording device and some bit rate changes later on your 4 year old computer.. wala! That’s why I once said anyone could make such a video. But these LTTE folk, they got all the right ingredients already no?

    Had JDS given a lead when they surrendered this concocted piece of evidence as per what the source device was, then the findings could have been correlated, still though not verifying the data.

    Further the fact that they (JDS) made no genuine attempt to redirect investigators in a meaningful direction adds further suspicion. Leaving poor Alston to bust his ass! If I had such a video and knew it was damn real, I would have at least confidentially revealed more meaningful follow up information as a duty towards humanity.

    Oh well, I guess who ever behind it, just wanted to stir up some sh1t. It’s so obvious when you look at the whole episode. And they did it quite successfully. So congratulations are in order whoevers behind it.

    So let Alston bust his ass, but don’t expect the gov of SL to follow dead ends.

    On another note,

    Observer’s comments contain questions only Alston can answer. Observer assumes we would “have kept mum” had the video been proved false.

    Lol I meant Alston would have kept mum, not you! Puhul hora karen dane?? :-P

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Groundviews,

    Thank you for your response.

    I searched the site on which Alston posted his official reports for the Video which was analysed by his experts. I could not find it there. I then searched the web for the video named by Jeff Spivack and found a similarly named video on a LTTE leaning Tamil web site. Hence I cannot be sure that we will be writing about the same video due to Alston with holding vital data.

    Spivac’s video is named Video DJ.3gp
    File size: 1.61 MiB
    Duration: 1mn 17s

    The video I found is named videodj.3gp
    File size: 1.61 MiB
    Duration: 1mn 17s

    Spivac’s Meta Data shows the date as
    Encoded date: UTC 2009-07-18 09:06:47
    Tagged date: UTC 2009-07-18 09:06:47

    Spivac states that the Mobile phone model used is a Philips and attaches a Philips Xenium X710 Manual, to the report. He also states that he did not have access to the actual phone used to record the Video. Why was it not supplied to Alston for a more authentic analysis?

    Spivac further states that “On December 20, 2009 the analyst made simultaneous test recordings with a commonly available (in Europe and Asia, including Sri Lanka) video camera mobile phone, Nokia Model 3110c” for his comparative analysis.

    Why he chose a Nokia instead of a Philips on which the actual recording was made is a mystery.

    Alston pooh poohs the encoded date with the following statement

    There are a small number of characteristics of the video which the experts were not able to explain. This included the movement of certain victims in the video, 17 frames at the end of the video, and the date of 17 July 2009 encoded in the video. EACH OF THESE CHARACTERISTICS CAN, HOWEVER, BE EXPLAINED IN A MANNER WHICH IS ENTIRELY CONSISTENT WITH THE CONCLUSION THAT THE VIDEOTAPE APPEARS TO BE AUTHENTIC.

    What struck me is the complete absence of any attempt to estimate the time when VISIBLE evidence to do that was available.

    The lighting of the images shows that the events took place around mid day. The study of the shadows cast show that it would have taken place around 2 hours before or after Mid day i.e around 10 am and 2 pm Sri Lanka Time. The latter time is very close to the actual time on record in the Meta data that is 14:36:47 Sri Lanka Time.

    If the Time is correct then it lends more weight towards the likely hood that the date may not be an altered date.

    Further analysis could have been undertaken with the sophisticated image enhancing software available in the west and working backwards on the assumption that the date is correct which will yield a more accurate estimate of the time as the Sunrise time, Azimuth etc would be known with accuracy and hence measurement of the shadow length would provide a more accurate estimate of the time.

    That such an analysis was not undertaken indicates that Alston’s real interest was discrediting the SL experts and not getting at the TRUTH.

    The small number of characteristics that Alston refers to will become very SIGNIFICANT IF the Time is established and correlates to the time in the Meta data.

    The Times UK is a known FABRICATOR of stories
    Please read my comment http://www.groundviews.org/2009/08/29/a-video-of-shame-and-outrage-responses-positions-and-clarifications/comment-page-2/#comment-12878 and the follow up comments the links of witch are embedded within that comment. If my analysis of the Times, UK story about 20,000 civilians killed in SL is faulty I would like to know where I have gone wrong. Hence any investigation commissioned by them is suspect.

    Agnos have been properly answered by Wijeyapala. Agnos seems to argue against Alston as according to Agnos it is an easy matter to establish even the soldier who is supposed to have videographed the events. Then why alter the date at all?

    I have not specifically answered the matters raised by the Tamil’s Against Genocide as I have not studied it fully but the above question about the date IF given much more careful analysis might invalidate the Video altogether.

    This is not to say that the videographed incidents did not occur, it may have but the VICTIMS also could have been Sinhalese and the assailants could have been Tamil Terrorists. The uniforms prove nothing as the LTTE used SLA uniforms.

    Initially Alston dismissed the SL experts just because they happened to be Sri Lankan.

    We must also remember that Alston hails from a country where the LTTE is very active and where Siva Pasupati the LTTE legal adviser lives. The LTTE is not a poor organisation. The FBI recognises it as a bribe giver. This fact cannot be overlooked at anytime.

    I believe Alston’s impartiality is suspect given his unethical behavior

  • Natasha Miller

    Channel 4 has shown that its credible and non-biased. Excellent, finally a news corporation exposes war crimes. My parents have relatives who experienced the Auschwitz death camp in Hitler’s time. Now its the Tamils. I hope they get justice. As one academic puts it, “”We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” — Elie Wiesel

    Sri Lanka must stop committing genocide on Tamils. If you are not hiding anything then let the UN investigate.

  • Agnos

    Wijayapala,

    My point is that your questions are irrelevant to starting an investigation.
    Alston only said that it “appears authentic” and by any fair assessment by any neutral person, that is sufficient to start an investigation.

    You and others questioning the video’s authenticity ignore the stark fact that the GoSL imposed a total blackout in the war zone populated with hundreds of thousands of civilians, denying access even to the ICRC, the UN and impartial news reporters. When an armed force with a well-known history of committing grave atrocities against civilians, as documented by several neutral human rights organizations (UTHR, HRW, AHRC) and as claimed by large segments of Sri Lanka’s own citizens, especially minorities, orders such blackout, any evidence like this video provides a prima facie case for investigating the force.

    Why is that hard for you to understand? Indeed, you and others make an implicit argument that as long as GoSL can suppress all evidence of atrocities it committed during the war, any leaking evidence is not believable and therefore there can’t be any investigations. That argument, far from exculpating the GoSL, reinforces the case that in ordering a total blackout and in expelling ICRC and UN staff, the GoSL had a clear intent to commit war crimes. As such, no evidence needs to be 100% proven for an investigation to start. High likelihood of authenticity is more than sufficient.

    You find it odd that the “SLA” executioners were wearing two different uniforms. But if you just continue to watch that whole news video by Channel 4, near the end it shows the internment camps and SLA soldiers wearing these same two different types of uniforms, standing close and guarding the interned people. It could easily be the case that different units were meeting or handing over from one to the other during this incident. That is why I have to say that your skepticism is unfounded and has more to do with your misguided “patriotism.”

    I watched the video now and it is true that it doesn’t show the face of the soldier upfront, just the side and the back; nonetheless, there are still many ways a proper forensic investigation can identify them. Let there be an independent investigation with no obfuscation by the GoSL (and it supporters as evidenced here).

  • Off the Cuff

    Natasha Miller said,

    “Channel 4 has shown that its credible and non-biased.”

    Your statement in post of January 13, 2010 @ 1:42 am

    Could you please elaborate Natasha, how you have arrived at that conclusion?

  • Shanthy

    The Sri Lankan government killed 17 members of my family in 2009 alone .

    I am of Tamil origin.

    My husband and I are still looking for a number of relatives and of those we have managed to trace, most of them are now disabled/sick due to the genocidal acts committed by the Sri Lankan government.

    We, the Tamils, knew that the footage was true as this is what we have been facing for years now.

    No one can bring back my relatives.

    But, we deserve justice.

    Let there be a war crimes investigation.

    Moreover, we still need a fair and just system for those who have been unfortunate enough to survive, but are now living under the tortuous Sri Lankan government.

    My 34 year old husband, residing in London now, still wakes up from his nightmares of the times when he was tortured by the Sri Lankan Sinhala government.

    He was just 12 years old when he was tortured.

    Why? – because he was a Tamil.

    We all have painful recollections and we have been living in hell.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Agnos,

    I think your argument is essentially correct. However, there are many factors which complicate this issue in the present context.

    Historically, it’s been the LTTE that has had a track record of fabricating or exaggerating atrocities for propaganda purposes abroad, thereby spurring on support from the diaspora (not to say that no atrocities occurred, but merely that a continuous supply of atrocities, real or imagined, was essential to the survival of the LTTE. The govt. on the other hand, had no no such need)

    Therefore, the very fact that someone would bother to record these killings, the release of which would cause the damning indictment of the soldiers concerned, makes the video somewhat suspect in the first place.

    On the other hand, the opportune release of such a video, would serve the purposes of the LTTE quite nicely. I don’t know the truth of this, but this video claims to be an original in its own right. But whether that’s true or not, take a look at how entirely different the impression would be had the video been in Tamil (http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2009/09/17/channel-4-fake-video-footage-last-original-has-emerged). Would anyone still insist on a war crimes investigation?

    I believe it is partly in this context that some are dismissive of this video.

    On top of this, the govt. is doubtless wary of allowing an investigation which would further upset this already fragile state of affairs, by what is seen as an LTTE supporter fueled attempt to tarnish the good name of the Sri Lankan army. Further, most people now want to put this whole unpleasant chapter behind them, and not rattle any skeletons in the closet, after all, keep in mind that witnessing atrocities on a daily basis was nothing new to Sri Lankans, so this is one such incident among thousands which many may feel is best left behind.

    I believe reasons like this explain the general reluctance for a war crimes investigation.

    I agree that it does not validate a refusal to look into this matter. But one cannot look at these issues bereft of context either.

  • wijayapala

    Agnos,

    Indeed, you and others make an implicit argument that as long as GoSL can suppress all evidence of atrocities it committed during the war, any leaking evidence is not believable and therefore there can’t be any investigations.

    Wrong. I’m saying as long as you and others cannot provide sufficient information to even begin an investigation, you won’t get one regardless of who is in power.

    I watched the video now and it is true that it doesn’t show the face of the soldier upfront, just the side and the back; nonetheless, there are still many ways a proper forensic investigation can identify them.

    Such as…?

  • Agnos

    Somewhat Disgusted,

    Though I understand your points, I can’t agree with your views.
    By the way, I never take anything the Asian Tribune says as truth because I know plenty of things about K.T. Rajasingham, going back to the time I was a kid in Jaffna and he was the SLFP organizer.

    Wijayapala

    Forensic investigators can use audio in addition to what is available in the video; they can get testimony from the people who are willing to come forward with the truth in return for leniency; prosecutors know how to do it.

    But I don’t expect the GoSL, regardless of who is in power, to start an investigation. As seen in the case of Trinco 5, having much evidence didn’t prevent the GoSL from covering it all up. All those committees and investigations went nowhere. So your point is moot. Any genuine investigation has to start from outside Sri Lanka, but without GoSL cooperation, it may not go far. Nevertheless, there are some lessons for SL war criminals in that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had to cancel her visit to the UK last month in fear of prosecution for war crimes. Bye.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy,

    Did any of your family get tortured and killed by the LTTE? If so how many?

    According to Anna Marie Loose of Medicines Sans Frontiers they even Amputated Tamil civilians and executed them by shooting in the back.

    Why no videos are available of the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims Tortured and Executed by the LTTE?

    This refers to your post of January 13, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Groundviews,

    Extra Judicial Killings under Alston’s watch

    21 July 2005
    Jean Charles de Menezes was shot and killed by police officers in the
    Stockwell Underground tube station in London.
    Once inside the train he was pinned down by police officers and shot in the head at close range multiple times.

    December 7, 2005,
    Rigoberto Alpizar, a 44-yearold U.S. citizen of Costa Rican descent, and his wife boarded a flight in Miami headed to Orlando. Following an argument with his wife, Alpizar, who was visibly agitated and clutching his bag, ran to the front of the airline declaring that he had to get off the plane. After Air Marshals became involved and began to escort Alpizar off the plane, his wife ran after them yelling that her husband, who suffered from bi-polar disorder, was ill and off his medication.
    After being removed from the plane, Alpizar was shot and killed on the jetway,

    The above two incidents are proven instances of Extra Judicial killings involving both UK and USA. What pressures did Alston bring to force either of these countries to submit to “Independent International Scrutiny” for their actions under the “War on Terror”?

    What drives him to soft pedal when powerful countries are involved in PROVEN CASES and to push hard to embroil a small country to submit to “Independent International Scrutiny” when the available evidence is itself suspect?

    Protecting his position?
    Revenge for a damaged ego?
    Money?
    or all three?

    A report issued under his Chairmanship states as follows
    Extracts
    Under international law, States have both a right and a duty to protect individuals within
    their borders; this includes protecting individuals from acts of terrorism. Measures taken in fulfillment of this duty, however, must also respect the rule of law, human rights, and
    fundamental freedoms. To date, few States have been able to effectively reconcile this dual obligation to protect national security while respecting human rights. A recent example of this failure is the adoption of “shoot-to-kill” policies to deal with suspected terrorists.

    In 2005 a number of “shoot-to-kill” policies authorizing the use of lethal force against
    suspected suicide bombers came to light. Following the July 22, 2005 killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician who London police mistook for a suicide bomber, the United Kingdom (U.K.) revealed the existence of a national “shoot-to-kill” policy named Operation Kratos.

    Also in 2005, reports surfaced that the U.S. Capitol Police had become the first police department in the U.S. to adopt a “shoot-to-kill” policy for dealing with suspected suicide bombers. Other U.S. law enforcement agencies are considering following suit. In late 2005 the U.S. National Bomb Squad Commanders Advisory Board issued and distributed the first national protocol on suicide bomber response.

    The IACP is the world’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization of police executives,
    with close to 20,000 members in 101 countries. Despite its international character, the IACP is most closely identified with the U.S. The IACP is headquartered in Virginia; its membership is overwhelmingly comprised of serving and retired U.S. police officers; its leadership is U.S. dominated;

    Training Key 582
    the following is the “TEST” before the use of Lethal Force
    One need not wait until a suicide bomber makes a move or takes other action potentially sufficient to carry out the bombing when officers have reasonable basis to believe that the suspect has the capability to detonate a bomb. The threat of such use is, in most instances, sufficient justification to employ deadly force. An officer need only determine that the use of deadly force is objectively reasonable under the circumstances.

    This is the recommended method of Execution
    If lethal force is justified, all shots should be aimed at the bomber’s head— specifically, at the tip of the nose when facing the bomber, at the point of the ear canal from the side, or about one inch below the base of the skull from behind. An accurately placed head shot will terminate the bomber before he or she can take action to detonate the explosive device and will not accidentally set off the device.
    End extracts

    If Sri Lanka followed the UK and US examples many members of the Public, Police and Armed Forces would have been able to save their lives.

    Here is a sample of the many suicide bombers who exploded themselves when being body checked is proof of the absence of such a policy.

    Attack on the Prime Minister’s office
    Bomber questioned
    While the woman was being grilled, on several occasions she broke down and cried. Sobbing, she had said, “I am not an LTTE cadre, I am just here in Colombo.” The embassy worker later went to report for duty.
    The woman crossed the street and stood in front of the PM’s office monitoring the movements of the people and glancing at her wrist-watch on and off, pretending to be waiting for somebody. The security officers of the PM’s office noticing the woman called her aside and requested to produce the national identity card. But the photograph in the NIC did not match her face. And since the officers did not understand the explanation, the translator was called. The only answer she got was when the woman detonated the explosives strapped to her body. The result: 13 were killed and another 28 wounded.

    Kollupitiya Police station explosion
    The suicide bomber was detected by the Ministerial Security Division at Devananda’s Ministry, Galle Road, Colombo on suspicion as she refused a body search by two Women Police Constables at the Ministry. This was the 10th attempt on the life of Minister Devananda.

    11th attempt to Kill Minister Kathiravelu Nithyananda Devananda in his office where his Secretary died are a few that come to mind.

    If these three bombers whose behaviour was suspect was shot at sight as recommended by Training Key 582 many innocent lives would have been saved

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Agnos,

    I didn’t really express my own take on it, merely other considerations/perceptions that may cloud this issue.

    I mostly agree with you that what’s in Asia Tribune should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the truth or falsehood of that article does not affect the point I was trying to make.

  • Shanthy

    The sadistic violence in the C4 video is a forewarning to All !!

    Head down and mouth shut…..the only safe way to keep alive in todays Sri Lanka…..

    “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”

  • wijayapala

    Agnos,

    Forensic investigators can use audio in addition to what is available in the video;

    How? Will they be operating under Channel 4’s brilliant assumption that only SLA troops know Sinhala, and therefore the executors could only be SLA?

    they can get testimony from the people who are willing to come forward with the truth

    Who? Since we don’t even have any indication of which unit was involved, why would anyone step forward assuming that the execution was real?

    As seen in the case of Trinco 5, having much evidence didn’t prevent the GoSL from covering it all up.

    While I agree that the current government has a disgusting record on investigating misdeeds (which might very well cost them the election), the topic of discussion is the validity of the execution video and not the credibility of the government (which most of us have a good sense of). You cannot establish the validity of the execution video simply by pointing to an established government atrocity like Trinco 5.

    With Trinco 5 we not only have the location, date, time, and other key information but also the names of key police supervisors involved and eyewitnesses. Furthermore there is an established and credible human rights organization (UTHR-J) that could assist an investigation by providing followup information. The same applies for the murder of the 17 ACF workers although we have no eyewitnesses except for the killers.

    These are the cases that the Philip Alstons and sundry NGO-wallahs should be focusing on. So why are they tarnishing their own credibility by instead chasing after black holes? Are they focusing on the execution video because they know that it would be impossible for any government to come up with anything, unlike the Trinco 5 and ACF 17?

  • Shanthy

    A report of preliminary findings from a US-based forensic company that took nearly three weeks to analyze the Channel-4 broadcast video allegedly showing Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers extra-judicially executing Tamil captives stripped naked and hands tied behind their back, said “the video and audio of the events depicted in the Video, were continuous without any evidence of start/stops, insertions, deletions, over recordings, editing or tampering of any kind.”

    The report contained determinations on ten different critical issues on the characteristics of the video and audio portions of the 3gp format file distributed by the German-based Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) on 25th August.

    The forensic firm used a firing range to conduct field experiments to arrive at some of the findings according to the report.

    Key findings listed in the preliminary report follow:

    •No evidence of tampering or editing was discovered with either the video or audio portions of Video.

    •The blood pooled around the previous victim with the white shirt and with the victim of the 2nd shooting is consistent with blood from the brain, which would contain high amounts of oxygen giving the blood its bright color. The fact that it is still bright in color is consistent with it being very recent.

    •The audio delay with respect to both gun shots’ audio compared with each corresponding rifle recoil is consistent for some, if not most, camera cell phones that are capable of video recording.

    •Preliminary field test with a typical camera cell phone of similar audio qualities (per header information in Exhibit “A”), was able to record a MAK-90 (AK variant w/16” barrel) gun shot w/7.62×39mm ammo, with the camera cell phone being positioned in a similar camera field of view of the 2nd gun shot, or 12 feet away from the muzzle, without any distortion of the audio.

    •The leg of an apparent previous shooting victim lying prone on the ground, down range and at the feet of the first victim, rises in the air when the first victim is shot, and then slowly drops to its former position. This reaction appears to be from the bullet that passed through the first victim and then striking the down range victim and would be consistent with a victim that was very recently shot that has not died yet.

  • Agnos

    Wijayapala,

    It is not as difficult as you imply. A prosecutor may be able to get the people at JDS to tell more details. I am not sure of the reason they are not more forthcoming so far.
    The uniforms may reveal the regiments. If the approximate time and place of the execution are verified, then it is possible to further narrow down which divisions were deployed to that area. A process of elimination will reduce the pool of possible culprits and bring more pressure on any witnesses within the SLA to come out with more details. The way that Sarath Fonseka and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa are making accusations against each other–and the way Karuna and the LTTE traded charges– show what is possible. A Govt. that has nothing to hide would want to clear its forces through an investigation rather than protect the perpetrators.

    You are right in a way in that the UN and other NGO’s could have focused more on the more solid cases like the Trinco 5 and ACF. Only they know why they didn’t; but I know there are problems with mandate, jurisdiction and claim of sovereignty.

    The UN’s attention shifts to many world crises; as the scale of other crises become larger, UN has a tendency to lose focus. The scale of the current earthquake in Haiti demonstrates why.

    And the visual medium is powerful on video. The Trinco 5 and ACF massacres didn’t have a “live execution” video, so this gets more attention worldwide; sensational or not, the Tamil victims, survivors and their advocates are right to focus on such pieces of evidence as it gives them hope that justice will one day prevail.

    My kids complain that I am spending too much time writing here. On that note I will conclude my postings in this thread.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy,

    This is Groundviews not the Times of London.

    At GV, we get an equal opportunity to respond to posters unlike on Times UK, which follows an LTTE agenda and writes gutter journalism running fabricated stories.

    Continued in next post

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy,

    Post 2 Continued from previous post

    For an example of such fabrication by the Times read the following link and if you can, answer the questions posed. Better still, bring it to the notice of the Times Journalists concerned and ask them to respond on GV (I have emailed them long ago but they seem to suffer from writers’ cramp).

    (http://www.groundviews.org/2009/08/29/a-video-of-shame-and-outrage-responses-positions-and-clarifications/comment-page-2/#comment-12878 and the follow up comments the links of witch are embedded within that comment. If my analysis of the Times, UK story about 20,000 civilians killed in SL is faulty I would like to know where I have gone wrong. Hence any investigation commissioned by them is suspect.)

    continued in post 3

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy,

    Post 3 Continued from post 2

    Your masters may have been able to coerce the Times Journalists, CH4 and may be even Philip Alston (please see my comments here on this thread as to the reasons why I say so). The FBI has given the LTTE a good certificate regarding their ability to do so.

    So far, we have not seen evidence of such influence on GV and I believe you will never succeed in doing that, as for GV, integrity counts.

    Continued in post 4

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy,

    Post 4 Continued from post 3

    Of course the events depicted on this video are abominable.

    Prove who the victims are and who the perpetrators are before throwing accusations.
    Are they Sinhalese peasants captured by the LTTE?
    Are they Muslim peasants captured by the LTTE?
    Are they Dissident Tamil Civilians who tried to escape the clutches of the LTTE ?
    Are they Sinhalese soldiers captured and stripped by the LTTE who dressed themselves up in those soldiers own clothing before arranging the execution on camera?
    Do you have anything to LEGITIMATELY counter any of the above possibilities?

    continued in post 5

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy,

    Post 5 Continued from post 4

    There are at least THREE perpetrators, the first shooter, the second shooter and the cameraman.

    The cameraman is only 3 meters away from the gun muzzle of the second shooter.
    After shooting, the first shooter walks directly in front of the camera probably within 5 feet from the camera.
    Was he oblivious of the camera?
    Did not the second shooter see the filming of the first shooting?
    Did not the first shooter see the filming of the second shooting?
    There was no THREATENING reaction from either shooter towards the cameraman recording SEVERAL MURDERS on camera which went on non stop for at least 77 seconds in PLAIN SIGHT of both, why?
    If you were one of the killers would you allow that to be caught on Camera?

    The scope of the video coverage shows that the cameraman did not do so surreptitiously but in FULL VIEW of the perpetrators. He is supposed to have held the Camera on the scene, panning the field of view continuously and focusing very deliberately and accurately on his target scene, for more than 77 seconds (77 second of video requires more time to aim focus and record). There is no sign that the cameraman exhibited any fear in doing the recording which incriminated at least two of his colleges and himself.

    What explanation can anyone give about the behavior of these three?

    Continued in post 6

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy,

    Post 6 Continued from post 5

    My estimate of time is 2 pm and that corresponds to the Meta Data which makes the SPECULATIVE theory of an ALTERED TIME on the phone improbable.

    If the TIME was unaltered the chances are that the DATE too is UNALTERED.

    Where does that place this video?

    This is what Spivac states
    Quote
    it is possible that the individual who used the device to record these events may have deliberately altered the time and date settings
    Unquote

    This is PLAIN SPECULATION and has no place in a Technical report.

    Why was TIME not investigated?
    He refers specifically to the “TIME”.
    Yet he does not investigate it and ignores very visible evidence of Time, why?

    Were these experts IGNORANT of estimating time using the SUN?

    Continued in post 7

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy,

    Post 7 Continued from post 6

    Estimated Distance of Muzzle to Camera
    Expert from Tamil’s Against Genocide – 12 feet away from the muzzle
    Brigadier Samarasinghe – 3 to 5 meters from weapon
    Alstons’ Spivac – Agrees with Samarasinghe and uses 3 meters for his tests

    This means that the BODY of the 2nd shooter is closer to the camera and would be around 9 feet from the camera with a sideways shooting position

    This is in response to your two posts below

    January 14, 2010 @ 10:28 pm
    January 14, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

    I have already responded to Your Post of January 13, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

    here (http://www.groundviews.org/2009/08/29/a-video-of-shame-and-outrage-responses-positions-and-clarifications/comment-page-2/#comment-13108)

    But you have kept mum, why?

    I had to post this response in 7 parts as I had difficulty in posting the complete comment in one post.

  • Peter Brown

    Off the Cuff

    May I ask, what are your qualifications in comparison to the three independent experts chosen by Philip Alston to examine the video? Are you suggesting the experts overlooked what you suggested? Have you written to these experts also and got no reply?

  • Observer

    Agnos,

    My point is that your questions are irrelevant to starting an investigation.
    Alston only said that it “appears authentic” and by any fair assessment by any neutral person, that is sufficient to start an investigation.

    I once met a beautiful lady that “appeared authentic” in Thailand. But she was a lady boy. Unfortunate souls would have gone ahead and slept with her to find that out the hard way. Get real!

    You and others questioning the video’s authenticity ignore the stark fact that the GoSL imposed a total blackout in the war zone populated with hundreds of thousands of civilians, denying access even to the ICRC, the UN and impartial news reporters.

    War is not a sports game to give coverage. I don’t remember seeing US military juggernaut vs. Iraqi civilians on ESPN all access pass.
    I believe forward operations of any offensive is purposely top secret for obvious reasons. Get real!

    When an armed force with a well-known history of committing grave atrocities against civilians, as documented by several neutral human rights organizations….

    So far I’m thinking LTTE…. Why didn’t UN start investigating LTTE for war crimes? Ooops, our bad, we didn’t leave anyone to be investigated… No regrets!

    Why is that hard for you to understand? Indeed, you and others make an implicit argument that as long as GoSL can suppress all evidence of atrocities it committed during the war, any leaking evidence is not believable and therefore there can’t be any investigations.

    What leaked evidence? Haven’t seen any to date.

    That argument, far from exculpating the GoSL, reinforces the case that in ordering a total blackout and in expelling ICRC and UN staff, the GoSL had a clear intent to commit war crimes.

    Yes government had the foresight to see that in a last ditch attempt LTTE would kidnap all the aid workers creating another headache. SLA’s LTTE steam roller wasn’t ready for that sort of non sense.

    Also I would like to point out had the LTTE surrendered at many times the GoSL offered opportunity to surrender, they would be alive today. They also did say.. OR BE KILLED!

    As such, no evidence needs to be 100% proven for an investigation to start. High likelihood of authenticity is more than sufficient.

    When there are also significant details suggesting the video is fake there is absolutely no reason to waste time!

  • Observer

    Peter Brown, if it makes sense, does the qualifications matter? In fact the qualified people should be embarrassed if anything! Common sense has no limitations.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Peter Brown,

    Spoken like a “White Sahib” but we are no longer a Colony Sir.

    Assume that I am a simpleton.

    If you or Alston or the Experts can’t give clear logical answers to questions from a simpleton what good are YOUR qualifications?

    Read their reports (there are links on this thread) before asking idiotic questions.

    You are welcome to refer my comments to Alston (there are many of them on this thread) probabably he might condescend to enlighten ALL of us here at Groundviews.

    This is a response to yours of January 15, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

  • Peter Brown

    Hallow Off and Observer,

    I do not claim to possess knowledge in regards to this matter. That is why I defer to the experts. And, it is an issue beyond common sense. Alston’s experts performed ballistic analysis as part of their investigation. Can we use common sense to reach the same conclusions as with ballistic analysis? Mental gymnastics. Maybe you chaps can.

  • Tamil Kovil

    Sri Lanka execution video ‘not fake’, says expert.

    The claims, vehemently denied by the Sri Lankan Government, added to a lengthy list of war crimes

    allegations against it.

    The video of the alleged battlefield executions, which was aired on Channel 4 in August, shows a naked

    man, bound and blindfolded, being made to kneel.

    Another man, dressed in what appears to be Sri Lankan army uniform, approaches from behind and shoots

    him in the head at point-blank range. “It’s like he jumped,” the executor laughs. The camera then pans

    to show eight similarly bound corpses.

    An analysis for The Times by Grant Fredericks, an independent forensic video specialist who is also an

    instructor at the FBI National Academy, suggests otherwise. He found no evidence of digital

    manipulation, editing or any other special effects. However, subtle details consistent with a real

    shooting, such as a discharge of gas from the barrel of the weapon used, were visible.

    “This level of subtle detail cannot be virtually reproduced. This is clearly an original recording,”

    said Mr Fredericks, who was previously the head of the Vancouver police forensic video unit in Canada.

    There was also strong evidence to rule out the use of actors. “Even if the weapons fired blanks, the

    barrel is so close to the head of the ‘actors’ that the gas discharge alone leaves the weapon with such

    force it would likely cause serious injury or death,” Mr Fredericks said.

    The reactions of those executed was consistent with reality, he added. “The victims do not lunge forward

    . . . [they] fall backward in a very realistic reaction, unlike what is normally depicted in the

    movies.”

    In Mr Fredericks’s opinion “the injury to the head of the second victim and the oozing liquid from that

    injury cannot be reproduced realistically without editing cuts, camera angle changes and special

    effects. No [errors] exist anywhere in any of the images that support a technical fabrication of the

    events depicted,” he said.

    The Sri Lankan Government said in a statement in September that the footage was “done with a

    sophisticated video camera, dubbed to give the gunshot effect and transferred to a mobile phone.”

    Mr Fredericks’s research showed that code embedded in the footage appeared to match with software used

    in Nokia mobile phones.” He said: “The recording is completely consistent with a cell phone video

    recording and there are no signs of editing or alterations.”

  • wijayapala

    Off the Cuff,

    I then searched the web for the video named by Jeff Spivack and found a similarly named video on a LTTE leaning Tamil web site.

    Is it different from the Channel 4 version? Does it show the date and time?

  • Santa Claus

    - Is it different from the Channel 4 version? –

    Just like the Channel 4 version, mate. Bunch of LTTE guys with too much time on their hands, desperate to make “execution videos.” Wait for the release of the uncut version. Philip Alston and some Norwegian guy having sambar dinner with the actors.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Peter Brown,

    Only a fool will ask questions without knowing the background

    Look at the Meta Data given by Spivac

    Encoded date: UTC 2009-07-18 09:06:47
    Tagged date: UTC 2009-07-18 09:06:47

    This is not investigated at ALL.

    Instead, EXCUSES are trotted out by Alston and Spivac to belittle the SIGNIFICANCE of the encoded Time

    The EVIDENCE of the TIME is PLAINLY visible in the Video but your so called experts and Alston missed it, as their PRECONCEIVED INTENT did not allow them to see the TRUTH.

    My estimate without the benefit of sophisticated tools is +/- 2 hours of NOON (SL TIME). The upper limit of 08:30 UTC closely correlates with the Meta Data. This can be easily refined by using the appropriate tools and the methodology that I described in an earlier post.

    Using the SUN to estimate time is known to Forensics.
    Why then did ALL the so called IMPARTIAL INDIPENDANT EXPERTS overlook this simple fact?

    Adding insult to injury Alston and Spivac even include SPECULATIVE EXCUSES to explain this GLARING DISCREPANCY.

    The question is why?

    You further state
    “Can we use common sense to reach the same conclusions as with ballistic analysis? Mental gymnastics. Maybe you chaps can.”
    Unquote

    If BALLISTICS can estimate the time of day, it would indeed be Mental Gymnastics.

    What I used is SCIENCE. The knowledge about how the SUN traverses the sky and the knowledge that objects cast a shadow when in the Sun.

    Obviously ALL the experts that you try to put on a pedestal don’t seem to have that knowledge.

    Unfortunately you obviously don’t have the common sense to read the thread before making DEROGATORY remarks.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Wijayapala,

    CH4 version is edited for broadcast. I needed the identical version analyzed by Spivac (Alston’s expert) for visual comparison. Its not posted on the UN website used by Alston to post his reports. It should have been an annex to his report.

    I assumed Spivac’s Meta Data would apply to the video file I found (please see an earlier post on this thread).

    It is possible to estimate the time with some accuracy assuming the coded date as correct. It involves working backwards after establishing the Sun’s arc of travel on that day. If the date assumption gives a closer match to the Time encoded the probabality of the date also being correct would be higher.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Agnos,

    “My kids complain that I am spending too much time writing here. On that note I will conclude my postings in this thread.”

    Time will be spent even if you stop posting on this thread and start posting on another. I hope you will not be leaving GV for good due to lack of time. Please don’t let “Observer” and “Wijayapala” do that to you.

    Refers to your post of January 15, 2010 @ 8:07 am

  • Shanthy

    Off the Cuff

    My reply to your posts 1,2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7 -Reductio ad Absurdum

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Shanthy

    Disproof of a proposition by showing that it leads to absurd or untenable conclusions – Reductio ad Absurdum

    You did not show anything because you can’t.

    Looks like the SUN GOD Himself is calling you a fraud

    The Sun is up
    The shadows are short
    The estimated time is +/- 2 hours of Noon, Sri Lanka time (on a cursory examination).

    This corresponds to the Time in the Meta Data.
    Blows the purported Authenticity Sky High !!!

    If we were having a verbal debate I would say you are Tongue Tied

    As it is you are having Writer’s Cramp

    As I said earlier Madam, your Tiger Tail is showing

  • Observer

    Shanthy said,
    January 14, 2010 @ 10:22 pm
    The sadistic violence in the C4 video is a forewarning to All !!
    Head down and mouth shut…..the only safe way to keep alive in todays Sri Lanka…..
    “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”

    Thanks for the warning. You need not worry dear, I do prepare my self daily for the impending sadistic violence that is going to engulf us, by engaging in activities such as chasing bunnies with meat knives and slitting their throats, repeatedly watching the SAW series, brutally kicking helpless grannies on the street, etc.

    Either way I was taught that when the devil knocks on my door, to let him into my own hell. I think this sort of attitude is going to be the most useful in surviving in today’s sadistic Sri Lanka! I personally don’t believe in the head down and mouth shut approach. I appreciate your concern how ever, very sweet of you.

    I just hope you’re overseas and you don’t have to endure what we’re going through! It’s psychologically draining & damaging… We’re becoming monsters before our own eyes.. :-S

    [disclaimer: this post may contain sarcasm]

  • wijayapala

    OTC,

    I assumed Spivac’s Meta Data would apply to the video file I found (please see an earlier post on this thread)

    Where did you find that file? What was the website?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Wijeypala,

    I found it here, they claim it is the original unedited video footage http://www.australiantamilcongress.com/videodj.3gp
    But it may not be the same video analyzed by Alston’s experts.

    Alston should have annexed the Video he used as an appendix to his report but he has not

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    U.S.-based Video Processing Company Confirms Authenticity of Channel 4 Video, from http://ow.ly/19xB7,

    “The company stated that its technical representative and forensic multimedia analyst Jeff Spivak had successfully conducted the “forensic video processing and analysis” of the recording said to have been obtained using a cell phone. The Video Investigator software used for the analysis was developed by Cognitech in 1988. The company claims its latest software package, consisting of a trio of programs including Video Investigator, to be “the most scientifically advanced and the only comprehensive forensic video processing and 3D analysis software in the world.” In a phone interview with SLNN, a company official confirmed that it can state with 100 percent certainty that the video is authentic.”

  • Observer

    groundviews, What’s new here? Jeff Spivak was already part of the report published earlier by Alston. If you’re saying that his company has only now concluded full analysis what the hell was he saying earlier? So he made contributions to Alston’s report before properly authenticating the video? Pardon my ignorance but I’m thoroughly confused.

    http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/EGUA-7ZGQCB?OpenDocument

    Do you just want to start a round 2 and get a bunch of amateurs to obliterate that report again?