Photographic evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka, or not? (Updated)

“The resulting carnage, photographed by Harun, was indescribable, but worse was to come.”

The Living Scotsman’s review of The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers by former UN spokesperson Gordon Weiss flags, inter alia, photos taken by Ret. Col. Harun Khan when his UN convoy came under attack in the final days of the war. The so-called Convoy 11 incident is covered in detail in Gordon’s book. As our review notes,

“Weiss speaks of photographic evidence of the carnage taken by Col. Khan, but there is none to be found in the book itself. Dismembered babies may have been too gruesome to include in the tome, but are photographic evidence of the deliberate targeting of civilians. Weiss does not say who has these photos, but we can assume, amongst others, the UN does.”

Referring to the Living Scotman’s review, we asked Weiss, via Twitter, whether Col. Khan’s photos would be publicly released.

Will Ret. Col. Harun Khan’s photos be publicly released? | http://t.co/xW7qFNs @gordonkweiss #lka #srilanka #warcrimesless than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac Favorite Retweet Reply

Weiss responded and asked us whether this sort of evidence should be publicly available.

@groundviews I have no idea – Do you think this sort of evidence should be publicly available?less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

To which we responded in the affirmative,

The response of Weiss was posted on his blog today. It is worth quoting Weiss at length,

“For those who don’t know, Khan, who features in Chapter 5 of my book “The Cage”, is a Bangladeshi Colonel and UN officer who came under bombardment courtesy of the Sri Lankan Army in late January 2009. He witnessed the resulting deaths and injuries to civilians – “nothing short of intentional murder” as he said – and extensively photographed the carnage. His presence was unfortunate because at the same time the Government of Sri Lanka was denying that its operations were killing civilians at all. There are many other images of the wounded and dead from these days in late January 2009, as well as close-ups of splash marks on trees, vehicles, and shell craters. I will not post other images of the dead, mostly because I think that it is rightly up to a credible and properly constituted judicial authority to weigh the evidence. Khan provided these images to me, as he did his testimony, with the specific intention that this wrongdoing should be known, not merely conveniently buried.”

Emphasis ours. The link to the photo Weiss provides is here. A copy of the same image appears below, albeit at a lower resolution.

There is however a problem with this photograph. As noted in our review of The Cage, The Report Of The Secretary-General’s Panel Of Experts On Accountability In Sri Lanka note on Page 24 that,

84. In the early morning hours of 24 January, hundreds of shells rained down in the NFZ. Those with access to the United Nations bunker dove into it for protection, but most IDPs did not have bunkers and had nowhere to seek cover. People were screaming and crying out for help. The United Nations security officer, a highly experienced military officer, and others present discerned that the shelling was coming from the south, from SLA positions. He made frantic calls to the head of United Nations Security in Colombo and the Vanni Force Commander at his headquarters in Vavuniya as well as the Joint Operations Headquarters in Colombo, demanding that the shelling stop, which sometimes resulted in a temporary adjustment of the shelling before it started again.38 Heavy shelling continued over night, and shells continued to hit the United Nations hub and the distribution centre, killing numerous civilians.

85. When United Nations staff emerged from the bunker in the first morning light at the first opportunity, mangled bodies and body parts were strewn all around them, including those of many women and children. Remains of babies had been blasted upwards into the trees. Among the dead were the people who had helped to dig the bunker the previous day.

Emphasis ours. In both the UN Panel report’s description of the incident and Gordon’s more detailed and graphic account, the dates mentioned are late January 2009. And therein lies the rub with the image Weiss has published on his blog. It doesn’t take a digital forensics expert to open up the image in Photoshop to look at the meta data of a photograph in order to ascertain for example, what camera model and what settings were used to take a photo. We’ve used Photoshop CS5, but almost any photo editing programme on any platform can access this data, just to underscore the point that this doesn’t require any expert knowledge or specialist software. And this is what we see for the image above,

A larger version of this screenshot can be seen here.

The problem is that this photo, part of what Weiss claims is part of “many other images of the wounded and dead from these days in late January 2009″ taken by Col. Harun was actually taken 22nd August 2008 at 5.08pm, and not in late January 2009. This emphatically does not help any advocacy, domestic and international, to hold those responsible for alleged war crimes accountable for their actions and calls for independent investigations to determine the veracity of these very serious allegations. It is possible that Weiss was careless, and posted the wrong photograph. It is possible he and the UN, as we noted in our review of his tome, have the originals of these images, where similar scrutiny under any photo editing programme can very easily determine whether they are in fact from late January or earlier.

Weiss in his blog post is concerned that akin to the response of Channel 4′s documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, this “this image of a dead mother and children (as well as others in the deep background and to the right side) will quickly be taken up by various loons as evidence of the set-design and pantomime skills of Tamil Tiger Productions Inc. Good luck to them.”

Good luck indeed. Though there is a significant discrepancy between the date this photo was actually taken and when Weiss says it was taken, it doesn’t appear to have been digitally manipulated. Again, since we aren’t experts in this field, we used a freely accessible online digital photography forensics tool to analyse this photo and could find no evidence of airbrushing or other editing artefacts, which are impossible to mask once done. See the image analysis here (where it is clear that nothing has been done to the image to enhance the visceral), and an explanation on how to interpret this here (from which example it is clear the model’s lip colour and perhaps size have been digitally altered, similar evidence of which you don’t find in the image Weiss has provided). Download a high resolution version of the image analysis as a PDF here (~4Mb).

To place this photograph in context, news reports today suggest the government has obtained the raw video footage of what was featured in the Channel 4 documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields. Basil Rajapaksa, the President’s brother, noted recently that “the massive propaganda campaign carried out by treacherous elements in foreign countries against the country’s sovereignty and independence resulted in the controversial Darusman Report, the infamous video footage telecast by British Channel 4, among others”. It is unclear what traction, if any, the Channel 4 video has within Sri Lanka. It’s freely available online, but has never been shown on public television. However, noted blogger Dinidu de Alwis wrote a blow by blow account of the footage obtained by the government which was broadcast on public television last evening via Twitter. A selection of his live tweeting during the broadcast of this material follows, and is very revealing.

The thinly veiled racism and Sinhala chauvinism of both State and private media in Sri Lanka will, out of fear or favour, along with government and the Army, gladly lap up images such as the one Weiss has put up on his blog today as evidence that all the allegations made against the government and the Army are false or at best, misguided. Images such as this, though they depict an unimaginably horrible reality on the ground in the final months of the war, when published carelessly and bizarrely, without any fact checking, risk irrevocably undermining that which is needed most in Sri Lanka, a peace with justice and dignity for all. That goal is best serviced by advocacy that is principled and evidence that actually corroborates allegations. Anything else, tragically, strengthens the very forces one seeks to hold accountable.


Swarnavahini reports that they have obtained original copies of some of the footage from Channel 4′s Killing Fields.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Swarnavahini says footage originally in Tamil, was dubbed into Sinhala by Channel 4.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Swarnavahini broadcasts a shooting scene with tamil voices, says video is original.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Nakes, bound and blindfolded bodies shown with Tamil voices in the background on Swarnavahini. Says authentic video.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Swarnavahini says video dubbed by Channel 4 to Sinhala, to discredit Sri Lankan military.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Swarnavahini contacts Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva live on TV.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Maj. Gen. Silva speaking on Swarnavahini says video on Channel 4 fake, says Channel 4 didn’t take up challenge to prove authenticity.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Maj. Gen. Silva speaking on Swarnavahini says that the video is LTTE cadres dressed in Sri Lanka military uniforms.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Maj. Gen. Silva speaking on Swarnavahini says will expose more lies by Channel 4.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Swarnavahini says the dead have lighter skin, ones in uniform have darker skin, showing the dead are Sinhala and the shooters are Tamil.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

###

Update, 2.20pm, 2 July 2011: Sohan’s comment below raises some pertinent points. Since the publication of this post, Groundviews and Gordon Weiss exchanged further thoughts over Twitter. Sohan’s point is precisely what Gordon notes in a tweet addressed to us.


@groundviews @antloewenstein @andrewbuncombe It only means that the dates weren’t set on his camera.less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

We had earlier told Weiss that stating irrefutably that the photo was from late January 09 and then having us discover the photo was from 2008, at the very least, resulted in a credibility gap that plays right into the hands of those who seek to discredit this sort of evidence as doctored, untrue or misguided.

The problem with a single photo published in this manner is two fold. One is to do with the admissibility of this photo in a court of law. The other, with popular perception and optics. These are issues Sohan also flags. If the dates were incorrect set or the batteries were dying in Ret. Col. Khan’s camera, at the very least, Gordon should have noted this in his post. To have it discovered post facto is unfortunate, suggesting at best a complete lack of regard for the skill of digital forensics a government can and will command if ever these photos make it to a trial.

A photo shot today on or around Galle Road in Kollupitiya can have a date stamp from 2007, but it would be evident from the construction and the nature of the road that it was actually taken in 2011, after the road was made a single carriageway. Depending on the progress of the construction, a close approximation of location and date could be made. There is no similar artefact in this photo that can date it to late January 2009. Much like the watches that stopped after Hiroshima, there are possibly some photos taken that give a better indication of the actual time and date the images were taken, even though the date stamp is incorrect. However, without any a clear marker however or any artefact on someone’s person or captured in the environs that can help fix a time more accurate than the embedded date stamp, these images are, to a court, no different to those employed by the LTTE and its proxies around the world around the end of the war, which mixed graphic footage of recent days with library images of fighting and casualties from years ago.

If court proceedings on war crimes had occurred around the time these photos were taken, Ret. Col. Khan’s camera could have been taken to court, a photo taken, and the time stamp compared with those in these photos. If the difference in time was the same (around 5 months) lawyers could argue that these photos, even though they have timestamps from 2008, were in fact taken recently.

This is impossible to do today.

The question of public optics is also pertinent. For perhaps the best of reasons, the manner in which this photo was published risks feeding into an insatiable propaganda drive to deny and decry war crimes allegations. It may be quite tragic, but in fact, the majority in Sri Lanka believe and will stand by what the government says. If we hadn’t flagged the discrepancy of the dates, the Ministry of Defence would surely have. The response of Weiss to all this is telling,


And takes me back to my words to you: No point in releasing photos to anybody other than a judicial body @antloewenstein @groundviewsless than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

Our counterpoint remains simply that,


@gordonkweiss @antloewenstein exif / meta data on cameras if incorrect can’t be used as evidence tied to specific incidents.less than a minute ago via Tweetbot for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

We risk disappointment to hope that saner counsel, better technical skills and stronger strategic foresight prevails amongst those who seek to hold this government accountable.

  • Trutham

    Yes !! Great !!, so why not have an independent investigation into it ? Rather than party which is being blamed doing it ?

  • Trutham

    Remember.., international community and Tamils are not calling for punishment but the INVESTIGATION.., and Srilankan govt is not refusing for punishment but for INVESTIGATION. Refusal for investigation clearly indicates who has done it.., clock is ticking… ! Culprits will never be able to escape.. !

    • Sadun

      Trutham

      “Refusal for investigation clearly indicates who has done it.., ”

      The refusal doesn’t indicate anything other than adhering to set procedures and unwillingness to set bad precedents. If one wants a govt to investigate one should follow the standard procedures. GOSL cant investigate every cam or mobile upload that alleges war crimes in SL. if anything is to be investigated it should be provided with the necessary material to investigate, a date of happening, a place where it happened and probable people that could have done also would be helpful in this regard.

      It is quite amusing to note that with so many Tamils from most parts of the north and east living in foreign countries and having thorough knowledge of the surroundings and environment of the area not identifying the location of the shooting. Is it because the place is not in SL?

      And you sounds like rather than being objective in the investigation, quite subjective exposing your hatred against the SL.

      Regards

  • Sohan Fernando

    Yes it is certainly irresponsible that the date of the photo (image file) was not checked.

    On the matter of the date disparity: briefly: it’s possible that the camera’s battery or its clock battery had run down and thus caused the camera’s date to get reset to an earlier date. This is only a theory; it cannot possibly be proved.

    In more depth. The image data also shows that the camera model is a Sony W110, a standard consumer camera unlike the higher end professional S.L.R. cameras.

    As best as I know, some of these consumer cameras don’t retain their date settings for very long, after their main batteries run down or are removed to change. Nowadays most have a separate tiny clock battery inside them which usually lasts for years even without the main batteries, but eventually run down.

    For this reason, often you will see things like where someone posts his Christmas day photos but you see the date may be June of 5 years earlier! He would have forgotten to set the date correctly after putting fresh batteries.

    When the date get reset like this, it’d probably be reset to a date that is a little before the manufacture or release date. This W110 model appears to have been released in “early 2008″ according to http://www.dpreview.com/products/sony/compacts/sony_dscw110 so I would guess the “reset date” would most probably be January 1 2008, otherwise sometime in 2007 or for a later batch of W110s maybe a date of late 2008.

    Therefore:

    1. In support of possible authenticity: a date of August 2008 is compatible with the theory that perhaps the date had got reset. But that doesnt prove it conclusively. (And even if proven, that still doesn’t exonerate Weiss or whoever from gross irresponsibility).

    2. But against possible authenticity: if it turns out this camera model does have a separate internal clock battery, then it’s unlikely to have run down as early as January 2009 (no more than a year after manufacture — these internal batteries usually last many years).

    Due to #2, it seems to me more probable that this particular photo is NOT authentic (re its claimed date), but this is not conclusive either.

    Anyhow, even if date was correct, that doesn’t prove anything, because there is software with which you can easily change the date of “when was the photo shot” in any (well, most) image files.

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      Sohan, our response is now incorporated into the post above.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Good journalism. Good points. Well done.

    • M. Arunan

      Dayan J, Have you looked at the video released by GoSL. Why couldnt they get some body to speak real Jaffna or East Tamil accent?

      • Thambi

        Question is why couldn’t you get real Sinhalese to speak words that actually go with the video on the dubbed Channel 4 version? All I hear is bizarre garbage being spewed (including a reference to a game I’ve never heard of).

      • malli

        Thambi, The real question is why GoSL showing this only to folks back home but not challenging Ch4. Not all Sinhala folks are modayas I hope to know that the audio is dubbed. GoSL is making (edited out) of themselves.

      • Thambi

        The video has been available since 2009. Associated Press released it once as the video that was authenticated.. There’s no reason you could download and check it again if you want to. You don’t need the government’s permission.

  • gunda

    Has anyone complained to the LLRC or to the Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities over these killings ?
    Anyone prepared come forward and give evidence in front of law enforcement authority?

    • kadphises

      Anyone prepared come forward and give evidence in front of law enforcement authority might meet with the same fate as those in the video clip. That is the problem.

  • Simon

    War is war – Soldiers get killed. Civilians get killed and Soldiers dressed as Civilians also get killed.

    As for the photos, some are genuine, whereas the others are staged:

    http://tinyurl.com/63grohy

    BTW some of these civilians could end up on Channel 4 news …. Only time will tell!

  • eureka

    The atrocities going on in the Northeast have been well-hidden by all these tamashas.

  • eureka

    This will go away like Chemmani and Bindunuwewa and many others of 2006-2009.

  • http://www.manitham.net Agni Subramaniam

    @ Groundviews ; @ Gordon Weiss /data on cameras if incorrect can’t be used as evidence tied to specific incidents./

    The photo used here is not taken by an expert to fix date etc. Weiss statement is acceptable in this.

    But, every evidences should be given vital importance to identify such war crimes. As like this photo can be taken for perfect analysis with an expertise. As accepted by Weiss, International Judicial system can be the right persons for this case and I think Weiss can accept for this. Let us produce all evidences to Internationally accepted Judicial system, such as to U.N.

  • M. Arunan

    The dates on camera are so noivce, you cant really make an arguement based on it. Just look around you’ll see so many people have not set time not just cameras but many other electronic devices that require such action before commencing to use them. Human nature is such, one just eagerly puts the gadget to use rather than reading manuals etc.

    Thats said, its quite possible that the ‘original’ video never had any proper sound. And both parties are now ‘doctoring’ the original visuals.

    The point here is. it was such a foolish act for gov & Army to be not mindful about pix – video being taken, and then also getting out of the country, when there are concussions in the Army ranks due to Sarath Fonseka court martial, etc.

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

    Is this artillery strike a war crime or a fog-of-war mistake? Either way, SLA has to drop the ‘nothing bad happened’ stance and start saying “sorry”. It works well for NATO.
    http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/saying-sorry-is-the-hardest-thing-to-do/

    p.s. Casualty Inflation Genocide now puts the total civilian casualties at over 1,000,000. At this rate, people will begin to ask if there were any Tamil civilians remaining to be ‘saved.’ http://tinyurl.com/6ektaq8

    p.p.s it seems that Weiss is backtracking on his figure of ’40,000′ dead civvies. This is starting to look like Casualty Bingo.

    • malli

      Mango,
      Defending this killing, plundering and looting regime you now want them to change their stance from ‘zero casualty’ to say ‘sorry’. Pukka advice. You should be given another Diplomatic position by GoSL.
      After all independent witnesses were driven out of the war zone who is keeping an accurate count of the dead and wounded? Does it matter whether the dead count is 7,000, 40,000?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Have you forgotten that years before the “independent” witnesses were “driven” out (or at least the white ones; the Tigers didn’t let the brown ones leave), the Tigers chased out the Scandinavian Monitoring Mission which was there to oversee the CFA. Bet they wish they’d thought that one true :D

      • malli

        David, you are straying off course. Fine tune. I had only two points. 1. Mango wants GoSL to change their stance and say ‘Sorry’
        2. Accurate count of the dead is not the issue.

        It is accepted that LTTE is a terrorist organisation and I am not defending their actions. The issue here is the behaviour of a ‘democratically’ elected Govt of a country acting worse than terrorists, using the country’s huge war budget to kill their own people, people in hospitals, safe zones. Come on, will you ever understand?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        When you attempt to use terrorism to further your goals, it is then silly to whine about the other side giving you a taste of your own medicine. Every step of the way from 2001, the Tamils have no one to blame for their plight but the Tigers and those who financed and supported them. From breaking the CFA, walking out of talks, boycotting the presidential elections, chasing out the SLMM, and aggressively pushing for a military solution, the Tigers opened Pandora’s box.

        The legacy of this is that there will not be Eelam or even justice for the SL Tamils ever. War is not a movie, and somethings cannot be reversed. You will have to accept this and transform the Tamil community if it is to survive. As a community, the Tamils can’t hope to ever return to being the entity it once was in pre-’80s. That is the price of war. You risk much more than just your lives, and when you lose, you lose everything.

        For the sake of future generations of SL Tamils, I hope the transformation will come soon.

      • Lakshan

        David Blacker

        What sort of transformation that you anticipate from the Tamil Community?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        It’s impossible to say, Lakshan. The transformation will depend both on the Tamils themselves and the circumstances they face; as well as what they see as their future in SL. What is sure is that there is no going back to what they were as a community before the ’80s. That period is gone forever.

        It will be a difficult transformation, and for many — especially for the current and older generation — perhaps excruciatingly depressing. But for the sake of the next generations, they must do it. They need to figure out what is crucial for their existence as a community, and focus on that; not on what once made them a community. Attempting to regain a past glory is what has led both the Tamils and the Sinhalese to ruin.

        Take the Burghers, for instance. The transformation came in the two decades after independence. Forced by Sinhala Only to integrate or leave, they had to make hard choices. Today, the Burghers don’t center their identity so much on community as much as family. But if you ask the average Burgher, he is no happier or sadder than any other Sri Lankan, and success and prosperity is focused on individual and family goals rather than communal ones. The ’50s and ’60s were extremely difficult for my father’s and grandfather’s generations, they were deeply disillusioned, especially those who had committed a lifetime to government, civil, and military service for their country; and many chose to leave rather than face a future in SL that they were not prepared for. Those who stayed transformed, either by choice or necessity; perhaps both. Those who went, embraced a culture that they decided was closer to that of the old Burghers, where they felt their identity as Ceylonese Burghers could remain more intact than in SL. Perhaps they were right, but not necessarily.

        Growing up in SL, I wasn’t especially conscious of what it meant to be a Burgher, and my ethnicity played little part in my personal identifications; these were centered on family, religion, and perhaps being Sri Lankan.

        Maybe it will be the same for the Tamils; I don’t know. But what is certain is that they must transform if they are to have a future.

      • malli

        What David Blacker obviously have difficulty in understanding is the long, rich language and cultural heritage of Tamils, unlike those of the Burghers in Sri Lanka. The Tamils will not ‘transform’ like the Burghers did in order to survive.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        That is then unfortunate, because it means that you are condemning future generations of Tamils to perpetual unhappiness. What you want for the Tamil community (ie what it was pre-’80s) will never be achieved, nor will Eelam. What is possible is individual equality, prosperity and happiness.

        Your arrogant (and ignorant) claim that the Tamil language and culture is richer than that of the Burghers showcases one of the major problems of the Tamil community. You think you’re superior to everyone else, as a community. You’re not.

      • malli

        David Blacker, I did not claim Tamils are superior to everyone else. They are your words. Read again. Tamils’ language and culture in Sri Lanka were compared to those of Burghers in Sri Lanka. Burghers for instance can assimilate more easily in Australia than the Tamils.

        Your hatred for LTTE is driving you so crazy that you say that there is no hope for Tamils in Sri Lanka. And you say that Tamils must ‘transform’. Whatever that means. Idiotic. Continue with your hate words but don’t use your hatred for Tamils as an argument to support this despotic regime.

        You may have no hope for Tamils in Sri Lanka but remember that leaderships of countries and geo-politics do change with time and Tamils will continue with their struggle.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “I did not claim Tamils are superior to everyone else.”

        Well, Malli, what you said was “What David Blacker obviously have difficulty in understanding is the long, rich language and cultural heritage of Tamils, unlike those of the Burghers in Sri Lanka,” implying that Burgher language and cultural heritage is not as rich as that of the Tamils. You may now deny and pretend if you wish, but you’re just embarrassing yourself

        “Burghers for instance can assimilate more easily in Australia than the Tamils.”

        Well no one is asking the Tamils to leave; leaving is only for those who see no future here. As for assimilating, why are you looking at Australia? What’s wrong with the rich culture and language of Tamil Nadu; wouldn’t the SL Tamils assimilate there fairly easily?

        “Your hatred for LTTE is driving you so crazy that you say that there is no hope for Tamils in Sri Lanka.”

        It is only the ignorant who claim that ideas they don’t understand are “crazy”, Malli. I harbour no hate whatsoever of the Tigers, and I didn’t say that there was no hope for Tamils in SL. Looks like it is you who needs to take another read ;) What I said was that there is no hope for Eelam or real justice for the Tamils; and that there is no hope for the Tamils to go back to being the community they were 50 years ago. To stay, means to transform to the changed world; to still be Tamil, but a different sort of Tamil.

        “And you say that Tamils must ‘transform’. Whatever that means. Idiotic. Continue with your hate words but don’t use your hatred for Tamils as an argument to support this despotic regime.”

        Why should I be hateful of Tamils when I myself am half Tamil? If you don’t as yet understand what it means to transform, think about it a while longer, especially if you do live here. If you don’t it really matters not whether you transform or not.

        “remember that leaderships of countries and geo-politics do change with time and Tamils will continue with their struggle.”

        They do change, but that change is not predictable; and so far the changes have damaged the Tamil nationalist struggle; a struggle that has brought the Tamils down to their knees and destroyed any hope of Eelam. It is extremely selfish of you to condemn future generations of Tamils to a perpetual struggle, and unending unhappiness, for a dream of past glory.

        No one can make a dinosaur evolve; but if it doesn’t, it will be just another dusty fossil while the mammals move forward into the future.

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

    Dear Loku Malli,

    Why is this tragic incident any different from many others in Eelam War 4? Some killings were deliberate, others were mistakes. I’ve always maintained that the ‘zero casualty’ stance was ridiculous and created an open goal against GoSL, which its critics duly took advantage of. Saying ‘sorry’ is a good thing and as SL is being asked to follow Western best-practice (sarcasm intended) in so many areas, why not learn start with how to say sorry for killing people?

    War isn’t a cricket match with umpires deciding the score. It’s a good thing the ‘independent observers’ were chased out so that the LTTE could be finished off before international pressure from ‘concerned humanitarians’ (like the ludicrous Milliband) saved them. If the LTTE had been clever, they’d have taken the ‘independent observers’ hostage, also. :)

    The death toll matters greatly. By now, its obvious that as the Casualty Genocide Inflation rate increases, it makes the GoSL’s position easier as they’ll be able to categorise the higher numbers as pure fantasy without any basis in fact.

    p.s. If there are any diplomatic postings available, I’d quite like Finland. Incomprehensible language, nice people, great architecture and design and an incredible military history. If you have any ‘connections’, put in a good word for me, OK?

  • Tara

    Whatever the outcome of this campaign for an international investigation, Eezsam Tamils need ultimate justice. It is more than clear for the readers of the intellectual forums such as Groundviews and Vikalpa that we will not get justice from this set up pervails in Sri Lanka today. We do not need further violence anywhere.

    We need a UN peace keeping force ( possibly led by Australia and including US,UK,EU) in the north and east until the UN formally recognises “Eezsham Tamil Eelam” and “Thun Sinhalay” as two separate independent members of UN. If the Sinhalese want to redeem themselves and enter the civilised international community, they would need a new identity on acceptance of the crimes they condoned and offer an apology. Thun Sinhalay can have the exsisting sri Lanakan armed forces while the Eezsham Tamil Eelam has to armed adequately match the strength of the armed forces of Thun Sinhalay. Eezsham Tamil eelam will be secular state with a fully fledged democratic, transparent and properly accountable government that would have cordial relations with international community.

    Thank you Groundviews for your intelect rigour and courageous stand on behalf of the oppressed.

    • madayan

      Hilarious. Oh what delusions the Eelamists harbour.

    • ravana

      GV,
      “The thinly veiled racism and Sinhala chauvinism of both State and private media in Sri Lanka” is an understatement when one considers,

      “Swarnavahini says the dead have lighter skin, ones in uniform have darker skin, showing the dead are Sinhala and the shooters are Tamil.”

      In a post on a much earlier article I mentioned a guy down south (whom I described as “black as the ace of spades”) who asked me if I was Tamil (because I had sought the help of a Tamil professional?). My metaphor then was to sarcastically point out how basic Sri Lankan racism is. I was using irony (darker black guy calling a lighter black guy Tamil assuming he’s not Tamil- he was using sarcasm and irony himself) to indicate this basic hue-based racism.

      Someone at the time objected saying I was out of touch. Well, it looks like a Sri Lankan media house has just proved me right.

      Swarnawahini journalists are not the only racist journalists in the World. I see not so thinly veiled anti-Muslim, anti-Asian journalism in the west quite regularly. However, the Swarnawahini racism really takes the cake. It betrays a belief, that Tamils are of different gene pool to Sinhalas.
      I have also seen idiots post suggestions of shipping Tamils to Tamilnadu.

      This sort of attitude will ensure that Eezsham is established. Not that I have any objection to self-determination. But I do think two geographically separate administrative units on the same island is dangerous (to the people of the island) for a number of reasons (practical, economic, strategic).

      The Sinhala ultranationalist racism will more than likely ensure that a bitter split of the country will occur, whether through means of geography, apartheid or socio-economics. Sri Lanka will be back to square one whilst the rest of the World moves on.

    • yapa

      Dear Tara;

      How about a single “Eezsham Tamil Eelam” for the whole country and “Thun Sinhalay” to be demolished?

      I think it will leave no any room for problems in the future. How about that proposal?

      Thanks!

  • MV

    So now Sri Lanka claims the executions in fact are real but the perpetrator is LTTE and the proof of it seems to be the dark skin tone. lol! We can all see already what the outcome of a Sri Lankan domestic investigation would be like.

    What happened to the group of Moratuwa experts or the one from Australia who found the video fake/staged? Are they now contradicting their own stance they made earlier?

    • Thambi

      The implication is that the Channel 4 video was tested by the experts you allude to and found to be fake (i.e. having a false audio track). Thus that conclusion is compatible with the belief that the version with tamil dialogue is authentic (i.e. has the true audio).

      The perpetrator is the LTTE because the language being spoken is tamil. Those who who served in the army can safely be said to be not fluent or even able to speak the language.

      The black-white argument can be made with the channel 4 video too. So I’m not sure why you believe that the argument here?

      • ravana

        Thambi,

        “The perpetrator is the LTTE because the language being spoken is tamil.”

        Oh c’mon Malli. None of us were born yesterday. Assuming the true version is the one with Tamil audio, then the perpetrators are much more likely EPDP or TMVP (K or P faction).

        The reason would be because of the timing of the release and who released it. If the perpetrators were LTTE and the video had been discovered at the end of the war by SLDF, there is no way they would not have used this for propaganda purposes. Furthermore, in releasing video why would LTTE leave the Tamil audio at first? As we all know now, the Tamil audio version was said to have been on the Internet way before Ch4 screening.

        The only explanation for LTTE supporters (if they were LTTE supporters) releasing this video with Tamil audio would be if the perpetrators were their enemies.

        Now, nobody was worrying too much about audio, way back in 2009. The “fake” nature of the video was assumed based on movement of bodies and the synchrony regarding gunshot audio. It is only with the latest Ch4 screening that audio of the voices has been questioned.

        BTW, if some clever people (on either side) believe that audio can be faked so that forensics cannot detect it, then they would be dreaming. If the LTTE has done it then they have shot them on the foot as usual by trying to be too clever. That does not rule out the EPDP-TMVP scenario. If GoSL has done it; well there are no surprises (the only organisation more clumsy than the LTTE).

        “Puhul Horaa Karen Danae”- “Independent investigations” will occur whether GoSL/LTTE like it or not.

      • yapa

        Dear ravana;

        ““Independent investigations” will occur whether GoSL/LTTE like it or not.”

        You seem to be a Sooth Sayer. All the aspirations of the people do not become true. I think it is better not to be very assertive and commit oneself and make big pronouncements for uncertain aspirations.

        One can boast, but later have to put his head in his coat pocket in shame when the boasting become just dreams. There is a Sinhala saying “Maluva nahinne kata hindalu”(fish perishes because of its uncontrolled mouth). I think it is time to replace the brake pads of some talkative mouths.

        Thanks!

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