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Using Myth to condemn Sri Lanka helps no one

March 23, 2013

Using Myth to condemn Sri Lanka helps no one

If natural justice is to be fulfilled for anyone then it must be applied universally and equally to all. There is no place for prejudice and emotional influence when gathering evidence. There is certainly no place for a process that starts with a guilty verdict and then cherry picks material that supports that verdict. Such methods make a farce of justice and rather than resolve issue lead to them being inflamed further. One wonders whether this is precisely how many of the western opinions are formulated when it came to the recent UN Resolution on Sri Lanka. The passion of their words and conviction may have there but passion and conviction are no substitute for empirical evidence. In fact without empirical evidence passion and conviction have no validity.

Poor research and ignorance never helps. What we are left at best is a mixture of lies, half truths and myths that can produce greater myths and even bigger lies. In everything that has been written or said about Sri Lanka the biggest myth of them all is that 40,000 civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan government at the end of the Civil War. We can attribute much of blame for origins of this myth at the feet of LTTE propagandists as they fired up their ‘Genocide in Sri Lanka’ campaign. However the one person who should be blamed for perpetuating and profiting from this myth is ex UN representative called Gordon Weiss.

Gordon Weiss has benefited personally from promoting the myth of 40,000 in the form of book sales and soft interviews with media organisations. I am yet to find an example of an interviewer who has asked Weiss to substantiate the claims that he was making before his book ‘The Cage’ was published. Surprisingly when ‘The Cage’ was published his mythical claim of 40,000 was reduced down to 10,000. Was Weiss held to account for his beat-up? Absolutely not.  Worse, the myth that he help orchestrate is already being used like it is absolute gospel.

In a recent editorial called ‘Canberra, India ‘water down’ UN resolution on Sri Lankan human rights’ by Amanda Hodge errors and myth are compounded by her sloppy research.

Amanda writes:

“A 2011 UN panel found credible evidence that both the Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tiger rebels committed human rights abuses in the final months of the war in 2009, when thousands of civilians were trapped in a thin strip of land in northern Sri Lanka as fighting raged around them.

It found as many as 40,000 may have been killed in the final five months alone, though the Sri Lankan government estimated the death toll at 9000.”

Both of these statements are misleading. The UN produced no such report. Instead there was an unofficial report not sanctioned by the UN  but instead commissioned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The report never referred to ‘credible evidence’ let alone presents any but instead used the meaningless term ‘credible allegations’. Again the allegation of 40,000 was never substantiated and no evidence was ever produced to account for such creative estimations. Yet the magic round number became the popular myth in certain circles.

This also goes for Geoffrey Robertson QC ret. who should know better than to perpetuate unsubstantiated accusations. Clearly he does not.

Writing in The Age newspaper Geoffrey Robertson tries to link two separate issues as being the same. In his article titled ‘Commonwealth countries risk a human rights nightmare if they capitulate to the Rajapaksa regime’ he repeats the ‘40,000 killed myth’ to give more gravitas to his complaint about the removal of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

This how Geoffrey Robertson QC writes:

“Perhaps emboldened by getting away with murder – the army slaughter of some 40,000 Tamil civilians in 2009 – his government has now moved to destroy the independence of the judiciary.”

Regardless of the facts involving Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, an unsubstantiated allegation does no service to Robertson’s credibility. By linking his claims with myth it throws in doubt whether Robertson has taken any effort to separate any of his facts from fiction. Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake would be much better off than to have this kind of irrational support. (Or to be associated with a person whose last big wacky demand was to have Pope Benedict XVI arrested.) This time Robertson is demanding that Commonwealth Nations to boycott Sri Lanka. Whether he has pondered the logic of using external non-judicial power as a way of pressuring the sovereign judiciary of Sri Lanka to change its verdict is anyone’s guess.

The U.N. Human Rights Council whose resolution was to urge Sri Lanka to “to initiate credible and independent actions” to ensure justice and accountability in the aftermath of the conflict, which ended in 2009, was only passed with a margin of 25 to 13 (with 8 nations abstained from voting). Even with it’s so called ‘watered down’ language this is not an overwhelming result and shows a lack of confidence in the international community.

It is unlikely that a stronger more forceful resolution will come out of this. However as we come closer to the date of the next CHOGM we can expect all the same allegation from the same clique to be raised again.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. candydman permalink
    March 25, 2013 2:47 pm

    Personally. I think you are being restrained in using the word “myth” to describe Geoffrey Robertson’s and Amanda Hodge’s inaccuracies regarding the end stages of the war against Tamil Tiger terrorism. Amanda Hodge is a professional journalist and should know the difference between an allegation and evidence, but as a journalist out to sell her stories perhaps she doesn’t care about accuracy.

    Geoffrey Robertson, however, is a Queen’s Counsel, the highest status for a jurist within the (British) Commonwealth. It should be disturbing to other QC’s that one of their fellow QCs does not seem to know the difference between an allegation, especially one based on unnamed sources, and a fact.

    A better word to describe the statements of these two is “canard”. Canard is French for duck and appears to come from the French phrase “vendre un canard à moitié “, to sell a half a duck, thus, from some long-forgotten joke, to try to deceive or cheat. Thus, a canard is a false or misleading report or story, especially if deliberately so.

    We are used to to journalists trying to deceive people, but a Queen’s Counsel! What a disgrace Geoffrey Robertson is to his colleagues.


    • March 25, 2013 4:55 pm

      Thanks for your comments.

      I agree that both Hodge and Roberson should know better than to rant on like a pair illinformed university protesters. Hodge is clearly trying to peddle an agenda.
      Robertson is basically professional protester these days. He started of as a celebrity television lawyer runnng the ‘Hypothetical’ television series. Then he magically ended up as a QC. His list of causes match every predictable left wing nonsense you can think of. Everything from helping Assange avoid court, to arresting the pope and now poking his nose into Sri Lanka. His credibility is about as shallow as his phony accent.

      I like the word ‘canard’ and may use it in the future.


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