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Antony Loewenstein’s emotive prose on Sri Lanka proves nothing

October 13, 2011

Antony Loewenstein’s emotive prose on Sri Lanka proves nothing

LTTE child soldiers

When reading Antony Loewenstein’s many posts: on his personal blog site; the Drum and anywhere else he peddles his opinions, objective evidence seems to be a rare resource. Instead we have a mixture of outrage, angry chest-beating and a plethora of Zionist conspiracy theories. Some of which make the ‘Protocols of Zion’ seem mild by comparison. There may be a need for wacky conspiracy theories in this world but I am yet to find out where.

Unfortunately Antony Loewenstein over plays the emotion in almost everything that he writes and as such fails to present the cold hard facts that he claims to own. Any close examination of Antony’s works shows that there is a huge gap between what he claims to be evidence and what actually exists.

Antony’s latest essay called “CHOGM a chance to hold Sri Lanka to account” is perhaps one of his most vulgar and inaccurate to date. It used to surprise me at how often he manages to write his nonsense without being taken to task for his wild claims. However if the reader has little or no direct knowledge of Sri Lanka Loewenstein’s errors may fall under the radar. Yet those, like me who had an ongoing connection to Sri Lanka for more than 20 years, the errors and emotional manipulations become transparent.

Let’s look at some of these errors:

“Despite the fact that the government murdered at least 40,000 Tamil civilians during the last period of the war (a figure confirmed by then UN spokesman in Colombo, Gordon Weiss), the international community has been reluctant to hold officials to account.”

The figure of 40,000 is far from being a fact. The only non LTTE source making this claim was Gordon Weiss before he published his book called ‘The Cage’. After the release of ‘The Cage’ the figure was magically reduced down to 10,000 by Weiss himself. To date there has been no explanation as to how his figure changed by 30,000. This blows a major hole in Weiss credibility as a reliable source of data.

A thorough UN-led investigation found overwhelming evidence of war crimes committed by both sides during the conflict…”

The only report that Antony could possibly be referring to was not an official UN report at all. The title of the report says it all. It was in fact “The Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.” The report commission by the UN Secretary-General independently and was never commissioned by the UN or led by the UN. The key words used in the report were “credible allegations” not “overwhelming evidence” as Antony falsely claims. Yet he further draws upon this report as if it is holy writ.

“…the UN found that “most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling”.”

Again this was another of those so called “credible allegations” that lack any credible evidence to support them.

Antony goes onto cite a Wikileaks cable where he says that:

“A recently released WikiLeaks cable revealed that when Ban Ki-Moon visited the country in 2009 he witnessed “complete destruction” when he flew over the former “no-fire zone”. He described the conditions of Manik Farm refugee camp as worse than anything he had ever seen before.”

The actual cable was sent by Charge d’affairs James R Moore on 27 May 2009 was sent just days after the end of Sri Lankan civil. This was just after thousands of civilians poured out of LTTE held territories. Many of them arrived at the IDP camps in a malnourished state because:

“… tens of thousands of civilians were kept against their will by the LTTE …”

Yet Antony presents only half the truth to insinuate that Ban ki Moon is accusing the Sri Lankan government of creating the entire problem.

The reason for Antony’s essay is because the Sri Lankan president is due to visit Australia in October for CHOGM. As a result he claims that:

“Serious questions are now being asked by human rights groups in Australia and globally, Tamil organisations and some brave politicians; why is Sri Lanka being indulged at the expense of justice for its countless victims?”

We are not told which so called human rights groups are asking serious questions. Nor are the Tamil organization listed. Note that it is the ‘brave’ politicians who agree with Antony’s sweeping statement. Regardless of which it is still emotionally loaded language.

In the next paragraph Antony states:

“Federal Greens MP Lee Rhiannon has been one of the most consistent Australian politicians keeping the issue of war crimes in Sri Lanka in the public arena.”

This may be one of the so called ‘brave’ politicians that Antony Loewenstein is referring to. I have written about Lee Rhiannon in a previous post where she is having an audience with the head of the pro LTTE BTF. The BTF (British Tamil Forum) were so pro LTTE that they organized the ‘Heroes Day’ celebrations in London where children would dress up as suicide bombers. Very brave indeed.

BTF propaganda. Note the LTTE map

Naturally the current Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Canberra, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe is described by Antony Loewenstein as having a troubling past, based upon more unsubstantiated accusations. Yet it his warped logic that make you wonder whether he thinks before he writes.

“The [Sri Lanka] government had to take military action to defeat the terrorists to save the civilians.” Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe was quoted as saying when he rejected Lee Rhiannon’s statements.

As a result Antony draws this bazaar conclusion:

“In other words, we had to destroy the population in order to save it.”

How the Admiral’s quote can be twisted to take on this meaning is beyond imagination. This is just a clear example of Antony Leowenstein of inventing an accusation out thin air.

The remainder of Leowenstein’s piece rambles on with half baked accusations and making few clear points. Somehow the issue of illegal boat arrivals is so important that the International Commission of Jurists is involved. Who are they exactly and couldn’t he find a more independent person John Dowd QC?

When Antony mentions Australia’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Kathy Klugman handing out certificates at a terrorism rehabilitation ceremony he immediately uses John Dowd’s condemnation as evidence of a public outcry. Seriously, did Antony think that no one would notice?

However Antony claims that:

The fate of returned Tamils at the hands of government thugs is often brutal, according to investigations by human rights organisation.”

Government Thugs?” Which human rights organizations and what is their evidence?

Never mind, because Loewenstein has more unsubstantiated revelations to share with his readers such as:

The status of Sri Lanka in the 21st century is of a political elite triumphantly thriving on racial supremacy ideology.”


“The recent discovery of gas deposits in its waters will only strengthen the fears that a resource curse will benefit the Sinhalese majority against the Tamil minority.”

But here is the clincher:

“CHOGM is the perfect opportunity to challenge Rajapaksa over his government’s wilful murder of Tamils under the guise of defeating terrorism.”

Wilful Murder?” Another conclusion with zero evidence to support. However in the Antony Leowenstein universe evidence does not matter. What does matter is the emotion and raw passion that he puts into his prose. Substantiating his long list of accusations is not even considered because he can draw upon a long list like selected cherry picked quotes to match his argument. Yet I wonder whether in his rush to move the hearts of millions that he actual moves the minds of none.

Perhaps next time we will see some actual clinical evidence before the conclusions are made. Yet I do not hold out much hope of that.

Editorial note about the UK-based Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice

This is a partisan pro separatist organization set up to condemn the Sri Lankan government. This is their prerogative. However in all its lofty ideals there is scarcely a mention of the LTTE and its crimes. As such they cannot be taken seriously.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 9:41 am

    Why are Lowenstein’s opinions on SL taken so seriously by the Aussies? AL’s so certifiably bonkers, that he promoted a boycott of the Galle Literary Festival whilst simultaneously promoting free speech.

    Here’s my short list of his idiocies 🙂 .


    • October 14, 2011 4:46 pm


      Thanks for your comments.

      Judging by the overwhelming response by readers on his latest essay I would say a lot of people are wondering whether he even knows where Sri Lanka is.

      For me Leowenstein is a godsend. He makes such entertaining copy.
      Where else can we find a mostly unemployed journalist willing to provide such emotional gems as these:
      “…racial supremacy ideology…” Hitler lives.
      “…wilful murder…” As opposed to…to… Unwilful murder?
      “…a resource curse…” That is, the curse of having to many resources.
      “…brave politicians…” Suddenly I feel all warm and fuzzy inside for our brave politicians.


  2. October 14, 2011 9:21 pm

    Loewenstein’s factual errors are so egregious, its almost pointless launching ad-hominem attacks against (and I’ve been gulity of it myself!:).

    An Aussie blogger found a possible reason for his Sri Lanka obsession.


    • October 15, 2011 4:26 pm


      Having read some of Leowenstein’s essay. I can say that he is not above a good old fashion ad-hominem himself. If he dishes it out… then by wrat right would he have to complain?

      I also found this little revelation
      Where he claims that: “My partner’s father was under the bombs in the north-east of the country and he tells of aerial bombardment on make-shift medical centers. It was hell on earth. Up to 50,000 Tamils were murdered.”
      (I think you already have this information.)
      However this particular does open a whole set of questions about who he going to for his information about Sri Lanka.


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