So will the Executive stop treating the Judiciary as a lesser power?
| by Basil Fernando
( October 24, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) It must have been somebody’s idea that judicial independence in Sri Lanka must be destroyed. When the idea was first generated we do not know. It is possible that it arose more or less at the same time as the 1962 coup. Those were wild times for some people who had enjoyed privileges at the top. They were unanimous in their opinion that everything has gone wrong in Sri Lanka and that, therefore, some extraordinary intervention was needed. The idea behind the coup was that democracy should be replaced, or at least modified, to preserve the privileges enjoyed by the elite from the challenge of people claiming democracy as their own. The coup failed; but the ideas around the coup remained; and others, who wanted to achieve some of the ideals through other means, nursed these ideas. The opportunity came when one person considered by all to represent the epitome of reactionary ideas J.R. Jayawardena obtained 5/6th of the seats in the 1977 parliamentary election. The year that followed was when a small “clique” of people put their heads together to come out with a political model within which democracy would be drastically modified, so the idea of people having a greater say through a democratic form of government could either be annihilated or, at least, pushed back for a long time.
This small “clique” of persons who designed the 1978 Constitution had their own reasons to oppose the Judiciary as an independent branch of government. Those who had a taste of the aftermath of the coup would have remembered that a strong Judiciary, protecting the investigative branch, was able to convict leaders of the 1962 coup. It was the Privy Council in England that finally saved these leaders. If such a power is to rest with the Judiciary, it may object to the realization of the ambitions that the makers of the new Constitution wanted to achieve. They formulated the idea that, for development and economic progress, a strong executive was necessary. A strong executive implied a weak judiciary and also a weak legislature. Thus, the equations that were found in the 1948 Constitution, based on the classical separation of power concept, needed to be changed in favour of a new equation in which the Executive was a higher power and the Judiciary and the Legislature were lesser powers.
Which individual was more vocal in favour of this new equation none of us will ever know. Was it H.W. Jayawardena QC, who was the closest associate of President Jayawardena in making of this Constitution or was it someone else? We do not know. All that we may say with certainty is that it was J.R. Jayawardena, who was the then the Prime Minister, who approved this scheme. He had good reasons to do so; his own personal ambition to retain power for as long as possible could be better achieved under the new equation, where challenges to his authority could not ever be pursued in the Courts.
This overall scheme of the constitutional model, which altered the classical separation of power model in Sri Lanka, is what is at the heart of any real change into the 1978 Constitution. Now, an amendment, entitled the 19th Amendment, has been proposed. The basic question in reviewing the 19th Amendment is whether it meets with the requirement to re-establish the equations between the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature as three separate branches that embody separate powers for each of the branches has really been guaranteed.
These days, President Mahinda Rajapaksa says he is the one who wants the Constitution to be changed more than anyone else. Does this mean that he wants the Judiciary and the Legislature to be brought to equal status, in terms of the classical separation of power doctrine? Does it mean that his ideas have changed about the Judiciary, from those consistently exhibited throughout the chain of actions that reduced the Judiciary to a position of a lesser power? If this is so, then he is expressing a willingness to undo all the measures he has taken to ensure that the Judiciary is in no position to challenge his decisions, even when these decisions have violated the basic protections for personal and property rights. It also means that he is willing to abandon the President’s arbitrary powers for appointment and dismissal of judges. This, in turn, implies that he wants to remove the possibilities of arbitrary removal of judges, as in the case of the removal of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, and of arbitrary appointments, as in the case of the appointment of Mr. Mohan Peiris as Chief Justice and several other judges.
In short, does he want the changes to the relationship between the three branches of government, introduced in the 1978 Constitution, to be removed altogether?
These questions are justified to weigh the credibility of his stated willingness to change the Constitution. These considerations would show that the question of changing or not changing the Constitution depends not on the question of some groups claiming a separate state. The real issue is whether the President wants to stop treating the Judiciary and the Legislature as lesser powers.
About the author: Basil Fernando, Director Policy and Programme Development, AHRC/ALRC
| by G. H. Peiris
( October 24, 2014, Kandy, Sri Lanka Guardian) This comment is being written with the objective of highlighting certain considerations that have not received adequate attention in the ongoing campaign for abolishing the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka. Participants of this campaign including certain writers whose views receive well-deserved respect often tend to overlook the circumstances that culminated in the promulgation of a new constitution in 1978 the main innovative element of which was the introduction of a system of government headed by an executive president elected directly on the basis of an all-island poll.
There was at that time extraordinarily widespread acceptance of the case for an executive presidential system in Sri Lanka – the opposition to the reform being largely confined to the stalwarts of the ‘old left’ who had been routed at the polls in 1977. The most persuasive arguments in support of the reform converged on the theme of rampant abuses under the earlier ‘Prime Minister-Cabinet’ system constitutionally founded on a ‘first past the post’ system of elections to the legislature. People who do not have excessively short memories on such abuses – for example, the establishment of government monopoly over the mainstream media; the two-year extension of the tenure of parliament employing its two-thirds majority; attempted "legalised murder" (this was the phrase used by oft cited Colvin R de Silva whose condemnation, however, had no impact) through retroactive legislation; the sledgehammer retaliation to the insurrection of 1971 which entailed, among other atrocities, innumerable extrajudicial executions; the Criminal Justice Commissions that violated all civilised norms of ‘admissible evidence’; political interferences in judicial appointments; excessive political control of public administration; the proliferation of ‘statutory corporations’ that had a debilitating impact on financial accountability in public affairs; the rejection of the principle of academic autonomy in university governance – are likely to recall that the malpractices were by no means outcomes of the establishment of an executive presidency.
Further, the plain truth which most critics seem to forget is that the strength of the elected executive president in Sri Lanka has tended to depend critically on the parliamentary support he/she could muster. This was made abundantly clear by the power arrangements that prevailed over the brief spell from December 2001 to April 2003 when the Prime Minister Wickramasinghe (despite his slender parliamentary majority) bypassed the impotent President Kumaratunga on matters of vital importance to the country, not averse to adopting "gentlemanly" tactics to make it difficult for the president even to preside over cabinet meetings.
When pontificating on democratic governance for Sri Lanka, whoever does it should not forget that it was under the present system that: (a) the press was liberated from its earlier shackles (even making allowance for the alleged victimisation of journalist accorded excessive publicity be an unfettered press), (b) the near monopolistic government controls over key segments of the economy were relaxed, (c) it is not possible for any person or party aspiring to gain control over the legislative and executive branches of government to depend solely or largely on the electoral support of the majority community, and (d) Sri Lanka acquired sufficient strength to defeat one of the most powerful and ruthless terrorist groups, despite almost insurmountable obstacles that were placed in the way of its military and diplomatic efforts.
Although I am no supporter of any political party (and I have never had a personal stake on the fortunes of any politician or party), I am convinced that it is not the executive presidential system that constitutes the root cause for the prevailing ills – lack of transparency in financial affairs of the government (the irony is that this phenomenon is being highlighted by certain NGOs and segments of the media that are far more secretive of their own affairs than the government); ham-handed decision-making in certain prioritising investment (illustrated by the lavish but under-utilised infrastructure at Mattala, Weerawila and Ranminitenna, ostensibly meant for developing an economically retarded area), and the vestiges of criminalisation of politics (a global phenomenon the exemplifications of which is far more pronounced among our neighbours). Needless to stress, these must be curtailed. But surely, abolishing the presidential system cannot be thought of as an effective remedy except in an amnesic fixation on our collective experiences of the past.
A presidential election that results in the victory of a common opposition candidate with a platform pledge to abolish the presidential system could, in a serious post-election attempt to redeem the pledge, result in a constitutional crisis, except in an improbably scenario of the winner also securing a two-thirds (plus) majority in parliament through either defections of MPs from other parties or fresh parliamentary polls. With a TNA leadership now more or less fully committed to a resumption of the secessionist campaign, there is every probability that the ‘Regime Change’ would lead the country into total chaos, probably featured civil war, which, of course, would pave the way for the NATO to get into its democratisation act in a partitioned island of Sri Lanka.
How America and Britain Crushed the Government of Their 'Ally', Australia
| by John Pilger
( October 24, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had "reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution". Whitlam ended his nation's colonial servility. He abolished Royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported "zones of peace" and opposed nuclear weapons testing.
Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor Party, Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country's resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to "buy back the farm". In drafting the first Aboriginal lands rights legislation, his government raised the ghost of the greatest land grab in human history, Britain's colonisation of Australia, and the question of who owned the island-continent's vast natural wealth.
Latin Americans will recognise the audacity and danger of this "breaking free" in a country whose establishment was welded to great, external power. Australians had served every British imperial adventure since the Boxer rebellion was crushed in China. In the 1960s, Australia pleaded to join the US in its invasion of Vietnam, then provided "black teams" to be run by the CIA. US diplomatic cables published last year by WikiLeaks disclose the names of leading figures in both main parties, including a future prime minister and foreign minister, as Washington's informants during the Whitlam years.
Whitlam knew the risk he was taking. The day after his election, he ordered that his staff should not be "vetted or harassed" by the Australian security organisation, ASIO - then, as now, tied to Anglo-American intelligence. When his ministers publicly condemned the US bombing of Vietnam as "corrupt and barbaric", a CIA station officer in Saigon said: "We were told the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators."
Whitlam demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, a giant vacuum cleaner which, as Edward Snowden revealed recently, allows the US to spy on everyone. "Try to screw us or bounce us," the prime minister warned the US ambassador, "[and Pine Gap] will become a matter of contention".
Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, "This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House... a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion."
Pine Gap's top-secret messages were de-coded by a CIA contractor, TRW. One of the de-coders was Christopher Boyce, a young man troubled by the "deception and betrayal of an ally". Boyce revealed that the CIA had infiltrated the Australian political and trade union elite and referred to the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as "our man Kerr".
Kerr was not only the Queen's man, he had long-standing ties to Anglo-American intelligence. He was an enthusiastic member of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, described by Jonathan Kwitny of the Wall Street Journal in his book, 'The Crimes of Patriots', as, "an elite, invitation-only group... exposed in Congress as being founded, funded and generally run by the CIA". The CIA "paid for Kerr's travel, built his prestige... Kerr continued to go to the CIA for money".
When Whitlam was re-elected for a second term, in 1974, the White House sent Marshall Green to Canberra as ambassador. Green was an imperious, sinister figure who worked in the shadows of America's "deep state". Known as the "coupmaster", he had played a central role in the 1965 coup against President Sukarno in Indonesia - which cost up to a million lives. One of his first speeches in Australia was to the Australian Institute of Directors - described by an alarmed member of the audience as "an incitement to the country's business leaders to rise against the government".
The Americans and British worked together. In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain's MI6 was operating against his government. "The Brits were actually decoding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office," he said later. One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, "We knew MI6 was bugging Cabinet meetings for the Americans." In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the "Whitlam problem" had been discussed "with urgency" by the CIA's director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said: "Kerr did what he was told to do."
On 10 November, 1975, Whitlam was shown a top secret telex message sourced to Theodore Shackley, the notorious head of the CIA's East Asia Division, who had helped run the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile two years earlier.
Shackley's message was read to Whitlam. It said that the prime minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country. The day before, Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Defence Signals Directorate, Australia's NSA where he was briefed on the "security crisis".
On 11 November - the day Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia - he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal "reserve powers", Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The "Whitlam problem" was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence.
Follow John Pilger on Twitter @johnpilger and Facebook - www.facebook.com/pilgerwebsite
| by Andrew P. Napolitano
( October 24, 2014, Boston, Sri Lanka Guardian) Earlier this week, the federal government's National Science Foundation, an entity created to encourage the study of science — encouragement that it achieves by awarding grants to scholars and universities — announced that it had awarded a grant to study what people say about themselves and others in social media. The NSF dubbed the project Truthy, a reference to comedian Stephen Colbert's invention and hilarious use of the word "truthiness."
We already know the National Security Agency has the digital versions of all telephone conversations and emails sent to, from or within the U.S. since 2005. Edward Snowden's revelations of all this are credible and substantiated, and the government's denials are weak and unavailing — so weak and unavailing that many NSA agents disbelieve them.
But the government's unbridled passion to monitor us has become insatiable. Just two months ago, the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses broadcasters, threatened to place federal agents in cable television newsrooms so they can see how stories are generated and produced. The FCC doesn't even regulate cable, yet it threatened to enhance its own authority by monitoring cable companies from the inside.
What's going on here?
What's going on here, and has been going on since President Obama took office in January 2009, is a government with little or no fidelity to basic constitutional norms. There is no defense under the Constitution to any aspect of the government's — federal, state, regional, local or hybrid; or any entity owned or controlled by any government; or any entity that exercises the government's coercive powers or spends or receives its money — monitoring the expressive behavior of anyone in the U.S., not in a newsroom, on social media or anywhere else.
The NSF's stated purpose of the Truthy squad is to look for errors in speech, particularly errors that fuel hatred or political extremes. This monitoring — this so-called search for error — is totalitarian and directly contradicts well-grounded Supreme Court jurisprudence, for several reasons.
First, for the government to gather information — public or private — on any person, the Constitution requires that the government have "articulable suspicion" about that person.
Articulable suspicion is a mature and objective reason to believe that the person has engaged in criminal behavior. Without that level of articulable belief, the government is powerless to scrutinize anyone for any reason.
The articulable suspicion threshold is vital to assure that people in America have the presumption of liberty and are free to choose their behavior unimpeded or threatened by the government. The feds cannot cast a net into the marketplace of ideas and challenge what it brings in. Were they able to do so, the constitutional protections for free expression and the primacy of liberty would be meaningless.
Second, the courts have repeatedly held that the First Amendment needs breathing room, and they also have held that government monitoring of speech curtails that breathing room. Stated differently, a person under observation changes behavior on account of the observation. Thus, by the very act of monitoring our words, the feds will have the effect of curtailing them.
The virtual or physical presence of the monitors would give people pause, cause them to reconsider offering opinions, induce them to refrain from expressing their true thoughts and even drive their speech underground. This is called "chilling," and it has been condemned by numerous Supreme Court decisions.
The principal purpose of the First Amendment is to keep the government out of the marketplace of ideas, and any governmental behavior that influences the exercise of the freedom of speech — no matter how gently, indirectly, innocently or secretly — violates that principle and provides the basis to sue the government to have its Stasi-like monitoring of speech enjoined. Another prime purpose of the First Amendment is to encourage open, wide, unfettered and robust debate about the policies and the personnel of the government. Who can engage in that with Big Brother watching and keeping score?
All presidents push the envelope when it comes to exercising their constitutional powers. But we never before have seen in modern times a president like the present one. From his halcyon days as a senator fighting for civil liberties, he has descended into a totalitarian darkness. How can he ask soldiers to defend a Constitution with their lives that he disregards with his deeds?
The government is worried about speech. Big deal. Speech is none of the government's business. History teaches that the remedy for tasteless speech is not government repression — it is more speech. In a free society, when the marketplace of ideas is open and unfettered, the truth is obvious. But in a repressive society, the truth becomes a casualty. Which society did the Framers give us?
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. He joined FNC in January 1998. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is “Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom.” To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2014 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
| by N.S.Venkataraman
( October 24, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Nandini Voice For The Deprived, an India based not for profit organisation organised an All India essay competition for college students on “Has Mahatma Gandhi's non violence Philosophy Stood The Test of Time?” in the context of Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary on 2nd October, 2014. There was good response for the competition from students all over India.
While several students have argued that non violence philosophy has stood the test of time, there have also been other students who are of the view that the practice of non violence philosophy in its truest sense is not possible in the present time.
Highlights of both the view points are presented below.
"Non violence philosophy cannot be practiced in absolute form" :
After Mahatma Gandhi’s time, the limitations of non violence philosophy has been repeatedly exposed. It now appears that non violence philosophy can only be practiced in a limited way.
Mahatma Gandhi employed non violent methods effectively under conducive circumstances ,when Britishers were ruling India and British rulers had , by and large , faith in fair play. Several British intellectuals at that time even looked at India’s demand for independence approvingly. It is extremely doubtful whether Mahatma Gandhi could have employed his non violent methods successfully against someone like Hitler.
Contrary to popular opinion, non violence has never been an accepted norm in Indian history. Chanakya the great Indian philosopher was said to have advocated use of violence when dealing with those who are recalcitrant. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi himself was known to have said “I do believe that when there is only a choice between cowardice and violence , I would advise violence”.
Recent historical events in India shows that non violence could not have been employed in certain cases like Khalistan movement for separate country launched by Sikh extremists. India did not hesitate to use its armed mite to support the freedom fighters in Bangladesh and the Indians viewed India's then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s decision to use force approvingly.
In conclusion , it can be said that while non violence is an idealised course of action practiced by some exceptional individuals like Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, the hard fact is that one cannot live in Utopian world based on high ideals and values that are fine in theory but impracticable considering the ground realities.
While non violence may not be the best solution to the present day’s world problems, neither is unrestricted violence. Violence can be justified only in specific circumstances and should not be resorted to as an act of pure vendetta.The world conscience and opinion should ensure this.
"Non violence philosophy has stood the test of time" :
It appears that the legacy left by Mahatma Gandhi was not well guarded by those who ruled India and other countries in the post Gandhian period, who have never completely understood what non violence philosophy is all about.
Several persons are not willing to practice non violence philosophy today , as it requires a person to have high level of courage and conviction to stand against the wrong and do personal sacrifice in the process. Perseverance and character are extremely important for the practitioners of non violence principle.
There are immediate examples before us of Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the founder of National League for Democracy in Myanmar and she stood against the military junta with passive and non violent resistance as a matter of principle. She has succeeded already to a considerable extent. Anna Hazare in India has proved the power of non violent protest and fast very recently when the government of India was forced to listen to him. Sharmila Chanu of Manipur in India is another role model and she has taken the path of Mahatma Gandhi's non violence principle to strongly protest with regard to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in north eastern India. She has already shaken the conscience of India .
The world is now gradually realising that non violence is the best antidote to mitigate the march of violence and promote the social consciousness of understanding, cooperation , coordination and reconciliation which are of paramount importance to ensure peace and harmony .
Mahatma Gandhi proved the strength of ahimsa philosophy in his life time. Let us not question the practicability of non violence philosophy , when the fact and truth is that most of the people today , while respecting Mahatma Gandhi , have failed to live upto the standards set up by him.
| by Tisaranee Gunasekara
“There is no tomorrow in this desert”.
Mahmoud Darwish (A rhyme for the odes)
( October 23, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is another first – full-page, full-colour advertisements in daily papers, by the Ministry of Finance and Planning. Titled, ‘The Five Pillars that Uplift the Nation. Unstoppable Sri Lanka’ the ads laud Mahinda Chinthanaya and the upcoming budget.
The now ubiquitous thugs attacked a group of UNP parliamentarians during a fact-finding mission to the Ports Authority. (The same week another group of thugs attacked fishermen engaged in a peaceful protest in Colombo). The parliamentarians wanted to discover whether state resources are being used for presidential election propaganda work. As the unprecedented ads by Ministry of Finance and Planning demonstrate, state resources are being used, blatantly and openly, to sell the increasingly lustreless Rajapaksa rule to the masses.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa does not have to say, ‘I am the state’. He and his family act as if they are.
Tom Paine warned, “When it is laid down as a maxim, that a king can do no wrong, it places him in a place of similar security with that of idiots and persons insane, and responsibility is our of the question with respect to himself” . The 1982 Constitution made the original error by placing the president above the law. With the 18th Amendment, the Rajapaksas turned the state into the permanent-fief of this omnipotent president.
Idiotic and insane governance is resulting.
The Bandaranaikes named the Katunayake airport after themselves. The Rajapaksas too wanted their own international airport, in their native-district. No other consideration mattered, apart from this familial whim. The end result is a largely unused airport which is benefiting neither the surrounding community nor the country. And increasingly farcical sleights-of-hand are being used to conceal this preposterous reality.
Cheap and unlimited duty-free shopping is reportedly the most recent ruse used by the authorities to provide a bustling veneer for Mattala. At Mattala Duty Free, goods, especially liquor, are cheaper than at Katunayake. There are also no official limits on what you can buy. Nor does shopping at Mattala prevent you from shopping at Katunayake. Since most Lankan-owned flights make an obligatory stop at Mattala (irrespective of whether anyone is embarking or disembarking), some Lankan passengers get two boarding passes, disembark at Mattala, do some cheap duty-free shopping and re-embark on to the same waiting plane. “Having passengers go in and out of the airport will clearly count as traffic and be reflected in performance figures for 2014.”
This is the risible condition of a country where the whims of the rulers become policy and practice, at the expense of the nation.
The story of the Hambantota port is no different.
Once again the Rajapaksas wanted their own Port, and in their own home-base. No other consideration mattered. The result is another hugely expensive facility with little economic or financial justification – and a load of debt. So the Chinese lender is being given a controlling stake in the Port, in the hope of obtaining concessionary repayment conditions.
As Shino Ship News (self-described as ‘The authoritative source on Chinese shipping’) pointed out, “Chinese state owned companies will operate four new berths at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port once they are completed next year…. The Sri Lankan government had agreed to such an arrangement with the Hambantota Port’s Chinese lenders as far back as 2010…. In exchange for berth operating rights…Chinese consented to ease loan conditions which could possibly comprise concessions in repayment terms or the time granted for repayment.”
And when the Agreement on Key Terms for Supply, Operate and Transfer (signed during the recent visit by Chinese President) comes into operation, China Merchants Holding International and China Harbour Engineering “will hold operating rights in both of Sri Lanka’s main ports. China Merchants Holding International (CMHI) already operates the new Colombo South Container Terminal. Additionally, Chinese interests will have effective control of 108 hectares in Colombo Port City” .
In her 1974 book, The Debt Trap, Cheryl Payer described how the IMF used aid and credit to undermine the sovereignty of third world nations and influence their internal policies. As the emerging Global Hegemon, China seems to be following a similar path. And Sri Lanka is rapidly becoming a text-book case of how the new superpower is using this age-old ploy of to create a string of vassal states.
Of the 27 agreements signed before Lankan and Chinese Presidents during the latter’s visit to Sri Lanka, one deal was unique. Two Chinese nationals signed that agreement, one on behalf of China and the other on behalf of Sri Lanka. According to The Sunday Times, “Number 21 was the Term Sheet Agreement of the Colombo Port City Development Project Phase I. It plainly said, ‘Signed for Sri Lanka: Mr. Mo Wenhe, Chairman of China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd.’ and ‘Signed for China: Mr. Hu Huaibang, Chairman, Executive Director, China Development Bank’” . Ports Authority Chief has claimed that it was merely a financial agreement between two Chinese nationals. But if one Chinese national has signed on behalf of Sri Lanka, and the deal is included in the list of bilateral agreements between China and Sri Lanka, it is a deal which binds Sri Lanka.
A Chinese national signing an international agreement on behalf of Sri Lanka – can anything be more evocative of our ultimate destination under continued Rajapaksa rule?
Curiouser and Curiouser
The mushrooming of world-class billionaires is becoming another miraculous product of Rajapaksa rule. In fact Rajapaksa rule might produce several Lankan nominees for the Forbes’ richest lists.
The latest example seems to be Nandana Lokuwitharana who burst into fame as the owner of the Marriot Al Jaddaf Hotel in Dubai. He has also purchased the Oruwala Steel Corporation. Now this gentleman is venturing into a new arena – “the mineral sands deposit of Pulmoddai in Northeast Sri Lanka, known as the ‘black gold of Sri Lanka’….. Mr. Lokuwitharana….has already pledged US$40 million to the Treasury for this project as an initial investment…. The project involves producing Titanium dioxide through Titanium….a strategic metal….ideal for high performance military aircraft and rockets, space capsules, armour plate, aircraft firewalls, jet engine components, landing gears, submarines and engine parts.” Just the sort of stuff a superpower, especially a rising one with a rapidly expanding military, will do anything for.
This week Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi informed the parliament that Norochcholai has broken down 24 times since inception, costing the nation a whopping 18 billion rupees .
According to officially-unconfirmed reports, China is to be given the tender for the modernisation of the Sapugaskanda refinery, even though the Chinese bid was rejected during the first round of tender procedure .
When everything is subsumed into familial power, idiotic and insane become the rule.
This year’s Economics Nobel went to French economist Jean Tirole for his work on curbing the dominance of powerful companies. The Nobel-citation mentions his efforts “to understand and regulate industries with a few powerful firms”.
Our challenge is to find ways to dislodge or at least impede the powerful politico-economic conglomerate which is seeking to control every aspect of Lankan existence, directly and through various proxies – and is selling Lanka’s external-sovereignty to the emerging Global Hegemon in the process.
| Video Documentary By RT
( Octber 23, 2014, Moscow, Sri Lanka Guardian) Three months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was brought down over Ukraine, there are still no definitive answers about what caused the tragedy. Civil conflict in the area prevented international experts from conducting a full and thorough investigation.
The wreckage should have been collected and scrupulously re-assembled to identify all the damage, but this standard investigative procedure was never carried out. Until that’s done, evidence can only be gleaned from pictures of the debris, the flight recorders (black boxes) and eye-witnesses testimonies. This may be enough to help build a picture of what really happened to the aircraft, whether a rocket fired from the ground or a military jet fired on the doomed plane.
( The following article based on the letter written by the author to the Minister of External Affairs in Sri Lanka)
| by Vasantha Senanayake
(October 23. 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The recent reports on the vicious physical and verbal assault against High Commissioner Nonis are sad, and at an international level absolutely disgraceful!
As intimated to me when I called him, this incident happened in The United States on the Eve of the President’s address to the United Nations. The prolonged silence of the High Commissioner (now former high commissioner) was most commendable and only reflects that gentleman’s upbringing.
It was reported that the President had asked for an inquiry into the incident. It was interesting to note that Kshenuka Seneviratne who was the subject of the dispute and physically present when the battery occurred and could possibly be the instigator, has now submitted a report transferring blame upon the victim. This is not surprising when one considers the latest trends in Sri Lankan justice!
1)You will recall an instance when a government servant was tied to a tree, who later admitted or was induced to admit that he tied himself to the tree.
2)You may also remember an instance of policy makers attempting to regulate the horrendous crime of rape by suggesting that the victim be married off to the rapist and thereby nullifying the offence!
3)Similarly according to emerging statements may be the general public is being asked to accept that Dr. Nonis slapped and punched himself and thereafter resigned.
With reverse logic such as this can right-minded people ever expect justice? Is it also not blatantly unfair that so much weight is attached to a report on the incident made probably by the inciter! This can be likened to the classic Sinhala saying ‘horage ammagen pena balanawa’ (trying to ascertain whereabouts of the stolen goods from the mother of the thief)
I reliably learn that the secretary to your ministry Mrs. Seneviratne has been responsible for many disastrous incidents. These allegations ought to be looked into.
a)Did she undermine Indo-Lanka relations by conveying falsehoods to the President about Mrs. Sushma Swaraj who headed the Indian Parliamentary delegation that came to Sri Lanka in 2012 and is now Minister of External Affairs? I learnt that it was the Secretary to the President who intervened to change the President’s inclination not to meet the delegation based on blatant untruths expressed by her. Is this true?
b)That there exists an unanswered audit report alleging misconduct and abuse of funds in relation to the residence of the PR in Geneva which also allegedly involved awarding a contract to an agency with links to the LTTE. Is this at all true? If so, what does the good lady do to continue justifying being employed by the Government?
c)Did she not give the appalling advice to the President regarding a visit to Britain in November 2010 to address the Oxford Union despite written advice from the High Commissioner in London at the time to the contrary?
d)I have also learnt from sources that an attempt was made to force Hon. Douglas Devananda to quit the Geneva sessions in 2012 based on untrue information that the President wanted him to leave, while conveying to the President that the Minister was too nervous to stay. Is this true?
I write to you knowing that you may have the answers to these allegations or at least access to the answers. An investigation if any ought to be conducted fairly and not with a predetermined conclusion as I see in the so-called investigation on the assault on Dr. Nonis. It is not only the conduct of hon. Sajin Vaas Gunawardena and Dr. Nonis that requires investigation but also that of Mrs. Seneviratne.
I am reminded of the Sinhala proverb ‘Rilavata deli pihiya dunna wage’ (giving a chimpanzee a razor blade). It is one thing if the chimpanzee discovered the blade himself, and caused the devastation. It is a totally different scenario if a more dangerous animal calculated the damage to be caused and provoked the chimp and watched delightedly as the grand plan unfolded!
I anticipate an early response
( The writer is a member of Parliament, Sri Lanka )
| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(October 23, 2014, Bradford UK, Sri Lanka Guardian) Honourable Minister Dr Mervyn Silva is off my list for the time being and now it is Sajin Vaas Gunawardena who is the focus of my attention. Please do not get me wrong and I still treasure this minister since he is more sincere to the President than all his ministers put together and he never fails to get the media on his side. The President could not have chosen a better person as PR minister than our Mervyn. May he be blessed with long life and serve the country as only a true Buddhist patriot can?
Mervyn is the only non-racist politician I have ever known since he is oblivious to the fact that there are indigenous Tamils, Muslims, Malays or Burghers other than Buddhists. He is such an innocent politician whose enclave is Kelaniya. He will sacrifice his life for Kelaniyites and is all for temperance as the good Lord Buddha preached. I have an affinity with Mervyn since I lived for 10 years in Enderamulla which comes under Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha.
His grief was genuine behind his Ray Ban sunglasses as he placed his arms across his heart and shed copious tears at Kanatte. My invitation for dinner still stands if the honourable minister would honour me with his attendance and I promise to cater to his dietary needs with military precision when I save enough money to come to my blessed isle.
Mervyn will close one eye for his drug dealings and his manhandling dissenters of the President and tying them to trees since he has the interest of the nation at heart. But he vowed to speak to the media anytime day or night even at the expense of forfeiting his rights to the marital bed. If his weeping at Kanatte cemetery allocating a place for his demise next to H.R. Jothipala would not melt the rock hard what else would? We need to cherish this minister come hell or high water.
Now Sajin is a different kettle of fish and how he survives begs belief. If there is anyone who hunts with the hounds and kills hares or foxes Sajin is the man. He has the President, Kshenuka and EAM Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris eating out of his hand. I did not know him from Adam until he slapped UK High Commissioner Dr Chris Nonis on the cheek and then pleaded ignorant that he ever did so.
Tales abound both Sajin and UK High Commissioner Dr Chris Nonis (he has still not been served with notice to resign) were inebriated at the time and it is not a cardinal sin to imbibe a little at a party particularly when you have the diplomatic privilege of the choicest duty-free liquor flowing like the Niagara Falls.
Accusations that Dr Pakiyasothi Saravanamutthu of CPA and his acolyte Sanjana Hatthotuwa, a self-promoting editor of Groundviews, are squandering foreign funds pale into insignificance compared to Sajin saga. What is a bit of partying at Paradise Road with choice imported liquor and sea food specialities when you have to churn drivels of long-winded essays on peace-brokering to appease their funders in the West and duplicating or triplicating expenses. The lure of foreign service is more to do with the perks and privileges rather than promoting diplomatic ties with countries our latter-day diplomats sans career service qualifications are assigned with.
I was hosted by a former journalist turned dis-information officer in Europe a few years ago and was enthralled by the perks he was given; sauna and unlimited duty-free liquor in the cellar not to mention duty free vehicle to take home at the end of his sojourn.
Ms Kumaratunga was inspired by the US in this novel concept of getting gullible journos to act as ambassadors to counter war time atrocities which successive governments committed against minorities.
Kshenuka’s dancing with Namal baby with Tourette’s syndrome and Prasad Samarasinghe, ex media military spokesperson at UK High Commission circa 2008, is her prerogative given that she has to shoulder the massive burden of managing the EAM and she needs this relaxation when faced with unwarranted criticism from jealous counterparts who have been summarily relieved of their duties for their inefficacy in warding off war crimes accusations.
It is pure jealousy on the part of Tamara Kunanaykam whom GLP described as a maniac to go viral on the media that Kshenuka had dealings with the LTTE. Even the President is keeping mum on Tamara whose hospitality he once enjoyed in Paris while still an MP.
That Kshenuka flirted with the LTTE is irrelevant since she is presumed to be our Mata Hari assigned with the task of milking out LTTE funds secreted in Swiss banks. But the LTTE are made of sterner stuff and Kshenuka would be lucky if she got even one percent of the stashed funds for our President since Swiss bank regulations are tighter than a rat’s arse. KP is biding his time at the expense of the government which hopes to get its hands on some stash of LTTE funds. Hope springs eternal in human breast so they say.
There is something rotten to the core when EAM Prof. G.L. Peiris comes to the defence of Kshenuka. GLP has a history of bed-hopping as and when it suits him and it would bode well for the President to keep him at arm’s length.
There is honour among thieves and patriotic thieves are better than bed-hopping politicians.
(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at email@example.com)
| by Thomas C. Mountain
( October 23, 2014, Eritrea, Sri Lanka Guardian) As the deadly virus named Ebola continues to rage in west Africa there maybe homeopathic medicines that prevent and cure this disease but due to what would best be described as the criminal ignorance dominating the medical “industry” it is highly unlikely that we will ever know if this is possible.
As far as “modern” medicine is concerned homeopathic medicines are little more than voodoo. Yet when it comes to treating the Dengue Fever virus, the largest, fastest growing infectious disease in the world until now, which “modern” medicine can neither prevent or cure, there is a homeopathic medicine that is complete effective and safe.
Sold under the name Dembarah 2000 it not only prevents and cures Dengue Fever, it can also drive the virus out of the livers of all too many of those infected with Dengue Fever, something that dooms all such to a lifetime of recurrent bouts of the infamously nicknamed “bone break” disease (similiar to what many malaria victims experience).
I know this from first hand experience as well as the anecdotal evidence provided by hundreds of other users of the Dembarah 2000 product who have used it to prevent, treat and cure Dengue Fever infections. Many, many people die every year from Dengue Fever whose lives could have been saved if homeopathic medicines were taken seriously by the medical industry. What is to be lost in trying homeopathic medicines for treating Ebola?
Those that make homeopathic medicines describe a process of distilling the essential effectives found in many different plants and natural substances (in the case of the Dengue Fever medicine the likes of calendula, comfrey and sepia) to concentrations such as 00.25% or what they claim is a 6x potency factor.
Homeopathic medicines are not new, first developed in Germany in the mid 1800’s. Osteopathic doctors (another field that “modern” medicine tends to scorn) speak of how during the Great Spanish Flue Pandemic that killed tens of millions after W.W.I (another deadly virus that “modern” medicine remains terrified of) their forefathers and mothers used homeopathic medicines to successfully save most of their patients, while the best of “modern” medical practitioners of the times could only stand by helplessly as their patients died at rates of over 90%.
Today the makers of Dembarah 2000 are claiming that this homeopathic medicine can prevent and cure the ever evolving influenza as in the “bird flue”, “swine flue” or whatever the latest mutation of the age old infectious virus that kills many tens of thousands every year. Towards this claim I cannot testify, for it has been many years since I have been infected with such.
While untested, experimental vaccines are being rushed to use in treating Ebola caregivers (not enough of these new medicines are available to actually use to treat Africans dying from the virus) potentially life saving homeopathic medicines with a track record of preventing and curing other viral infections that are immediately available and which could be scaled up for mass production much more quickly are being ignored.
At least those treating Ebola victims could try these medicines on their patients, they certainly would not do any harm. Who knows, maybe thousands if not tens of thousands of African lives could be saved.
The possibility of this happening remains very remote for in reality this is just another case of criminal ignorance, committed by the so called “modern” medical industry.
Thomas C. Mountain, who previous to using Dembarah 2000 had been infected with dengue fever three times, has been living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at gmail dot com
| by Col R Hariharan
[Here are answers to e-mail questions raised by a legal analyst on the recent ECJ judgement annulment of the inclusion of the LTTE in EU terrorist organisations list.]
( October 22, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) General Court of the European Union PRESS RELEASE No 138/14 Luxembourg, 16 October 2014 Judgment in Joined Cases T-208/11 and T-508/11 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) v Council
The Court annuls, on procedural grounds, the Council measures maintaining the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on the European list of terrorist organisations. However, the effects of the annulled measures are maintained temporarily in order to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds.
The Tamil Diaspora is quite large here in the West but do you think that if the LTTE ban was removed in India, it would pose a threat to our national security in India? A step towards this was done in Europe by removing the sanctions on the group by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) just few days ago.
Fortunately, the ECJ does not advise Indian government on its policy. It does not matter to European Union if they nurture one more terrorist organisation as they have given refuge to scores of them historically in the past. These included Chechen terrorists, Jihadi supporters, and Tamil terrorists till they posed no threat to EU members.
But India has been fighting extremism, insurgency, terrorism and a number of armed separatist and anti-state armed movements for over five decades. Any threat posed by the LTTE remnants to India's national security would be minuscule. The ban on LTTE was not imposed based on its capability to pose a threat to national security but based on its long history of extremism and terrorism and waging war on a friendly neighbour using India as a source of assistance.
The ban on the organisation which had engineered the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi and scores of others who had sought refuge in India is unlikely to be removed in the near future for two reasons.
At least three instances of LTTE remnants attempting to revive the organisation using Tamil Nadu as a base to recruit/train potential cadres for induction into Sri Lanka have come light. Secondly, the threat of Jihadi terrorism using Sri Lanka as a launch pad has become real after the apprehension of a few agents belonging to Sri Lanka. And Tamil Nadu has been targeted by Jihadi elements in the recent past. The unearthing of links of Bangladesh JMB Islamic extremists in West Bengal have raised questions about their possible linkages in Tamil Nadu.
The LTTE has in the past used other extremist organisations like Maoists in India to further its aim. So it would not be beyond the realm of probability for Jihadi elements and LTTE using each other to further their interests in India and Sri Lanka.
No security agency would agree to take that risk of lifting the ban on LTTE at present.
Do you think the LTTE remainders have learned to embrace India since IPKF days?
This question is not understood. Who wants LTTE to "embrace" India?
Since the IPKF days, LTTE assassins murdered Rajiv Gandhi and 14 leaders and cadres of EPRLF in India. Even after being wiped out in Sri Lanka LTTE remnants have not "learned" to carry out a realistic assessment on their leadership and organisational failure in the last Eelam War. The LTTE remnants are still carrying out a black campaign against India for LTTE's failure to win a war they "embraced" when they were offered a chance for peace with an honourable agreement; not only that even now India is blamed for all that is going wrong for Tamils in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.
I doubt whether anyone in India including Kalaignar Karunanidhi and Ms Jayalalithaa who support Tamil Eelam referendum want the LTTE anywhere near them. For that matter even among Tamil Diaspora many do not want LTTE to come near them, let alone its "embrace".
I don't see any chance of a "Tamil Eelam" without Indian support but of course I agree that the people who committed the atrocities in the last days of the war should be punished.
Are you asking me to comment on this? If anyone still expects India to support "Tamil Eelam" they should revisit India's record against the creation of Tamil Eelam as an independent entity. Support for united Sri Lanka is an article of faith in India's Sri Lanka policy. It is also commitment India made in the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement 1987. Every Indian prime minister has reiterated this commitment to Sri Lanka.
I agree with you that all those committed atrocities in the Eelam war (why last days only?) should be punished. But that should include the LTTE including remnants who have sought refuge abroad.
(Col R Hariharan, a former MI officer, served as the head of intelligence with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (1987-90). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog: http://col.hariharan.info)
| by Upul Joseph Fernando
( October 22, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I was most dismayed to read an article by my friend and colleague, Sulochana Ramiah Mohan, on the front page of Ceylon Today on Wednesday, 15 October. Sulochana reported that Channel 4's No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is one of four documentaries nominated for the International Emmy Awards 2014. This news comes at a time when I am considering making a submission to Sandra Beidas, at OHCHR. Her remit is "to coordinate work and activities and act as the main interlocutor with stakeholders and oversee report writing and documentation," in relation to a UN inquiry into alleged war crimes in the last seven years of Sri Lanka's war.
The Channel 4 programme was first screened in 2011. Why is it being nominated for an Emmy in 2014? Is the nomination timed to coincide with Beidas's investigation?
Numbers When Gordon Weiss was UN representative in Sri Lanka he went on record as saying the number of civilian casualties was 7,000. This became the official figure quoted by the UN Secretary General's New York Spokesperson, Michelle Monas, who told Inner City Press reporter Matthew Lee, "We have no way of knowing the exact count." When Weiss left the UN and returned to Australia, he increased the figure to 40,000.
In his book, The Cage, Weiss quotes a press release by Navi Pillay in which she says as many as 2,800 civilians 'may have been killed.' Weiss gives this spin: "Critically, the civilian death toll Pillay quoted finally established a baseline that had some kind of official imprimatur and weakened government efforts to confine solid numbers to the realm of speculation and confusion." Pillay's statement did not take us out of the realms of speculation because she said "as many as 2,800 may have been killed." That is speculation. What does establishing a 'baseline' mean? Does it mean that because Pillay says "as many as 2,800 may have been killed" that gives Weiss licence to say 10,000 to 40,000 and Frances Harrison to say 147,000?
Sir John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator challenged even Gordon Weiss's lower estimate of 7,000 civilian deaths, made in 2009. Holmes stated in New York on 24 March, 2009 that this figure could not be verified. In spite of this, Weiss throughout The Cage routinely talks of 'between 10,000 and 40,000,' which is meaningless.
In Lakbima News on 26 June 2011, Namini Wijedasa interviewed Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. She put it to him that the Channel 4 programme called on viewers to make many inferences from the footage used. "It suggests, for instance, that women were raped, although it is not possible to determine from the bodies whether sexual abuse had, in fact, occurred." The then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, had made an accusation that GOSL was employing rape as a policy. She later withdrew the allegation.
Heyns's response to Namini's question was: "I think the video has to be seen in the context of all the available evidence, which includes what has been investigated and published by NGOs and the panel of the Secretary General. The cumulative effect of the available evidence makes a coherent case that there is reason for serious concern about what both sides did during the war, and in particular what happened in the final stages, when the government gained the upper hand, and that there were no outside witnesses."
'In the context of all the available evidence' seems to mean that if enough dodgy allegations are gathered together, they gain some credibility purely from their critical mass. This is something akin to those urban myths that gather moss on the internet. If a rumour appears on a lot of websites or blogs, it is quoted repeatedly and the mere accumulation is seen as proof.
Authenticity of Tapes
Another UN Rapporteur, Philip Alston, said his experts (Peter Diaczuk, an 'expert in firearms evidence,' Daniel Spitz, a 'forensic pathologist' and Jeff Spivack, an 'expert in forensic video analysis') could prove the authenticity of the images used by Channel 4 showing abuses by SLA soldiers. Alston conceded that there were some "characteristics of the video which the experts were unable to explain" but asserted that "each of these characteristics can, however, be explained in a manner entirely consistent with the conclusion that the videotape appears to be authentic."
An important witness in the Channel 4 programmes is referred to as 'Vani Kumar'. The Channel 4 commentary at no point mentions that her real name was Damilvany Gnanakumar and that she was a Tamil Tiger whom Castro ordered to work in Mullivaykkal Hospital. In London, she was women's co-ordinator for the Tamil Youth Organization, an LTTE front. In Kilinochchi, she was assigned to work with foreign media and was described by a former colleague called Prabakaran as a 'news correspondent'. He said she had been trained to use firearms and wore a cyanide capsule around her neck. As long ago as September 2009, Gnanakumar was discredited. Channel 4 must have known about her past.
I am not an investigative reporter or an expert on authenticating videos. I have communicated with Siri the expert who questioned the authenticity of the tapes. I have had a lengthy telephone conversation with the lead author of The Numbers Game, which gives a detailed rebuttal of the figures used by Channel 4. I have participated in Marga Institute seminars on the topic. I do have some knowledge of semiotics and linguistic analysis. When I first saw the Channel 4 programme, many things about it jarred.
The title, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, is a major distortion as there is no comparison between Pol Pot's ambition to send Cambodia to Year Zero and the efforts of a democratically-elected government to deal with terrorism within its own sovereign borders. The director manipulates viewers' emotions throughout the film by means of images and music, as well as voice-over commentary.
Jon Snow introduces the programme by saying that at the war's end "as many as 40,000, and possibly far more, civilians were killed." That is meaningless. How can one say 'as many as' and 'possibly far more' in the same sentence?
Alston employs strange language to defend the authenticity of the videos. The unexplainable characteristics can be explained in a manner consistent with the conclusion that the video appears to be authentic. Alston is not saying the 'experts' have said the video is authentic. The unexplainable can be explained to fit a conclusion that the video appears to be authentic. Even if they came out and said directly that the video was genuine and had not been tampered with, this is not proof that it shows Sri Lankan soldiers killing Tamils.
The Channel 4 programme includes a solemn sequence about the brutality of life in the IDP camps. The director manipulates our emotions with sinister soundtrack music. The Emmy nomination allows Channel 4 to continue to peddle untruths about the camps. Here in October 2014, we know that the predicted mass deaths from disease or a policy of genocidal extermination did not happen. Today the camps are empty.
Even in 2009, Channel 4 should have known that these were not concentration camps. The camps had banks with ATMs, shops and schools with children studying for and passing exams. B Lynn Pascoe, UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, visited the IDP camps in September 2009 and said, "You have a better story than is getting out today." Pascoe stated that he was "impressed by the work done by the Army, the demining teams, the UN staff and the civil society" and that his team also witnessed the rehabilitation work that was underway.
Channel 4 used Gordon Weiss as one of its major 'witnesses' but chose to ignore what he had written about the (generally) exemplary conduct towards Tamil civilians of the SLA. There is testimony from many surviving Tamil civilians about the risks that soldiers took to protect civilians. The Red Cross and Human Rights Watch also said this. Weiss, Tamil survivors, the Red Cross and HRW also made it clear that the LTTE were firing artillery from hospitals, using civilians as human shields and shooting those who tried to escape. Channel 4 mentions none of this. The first programme devoted only 49 seconds to LTTE abuses.
A book called Corrupted Journalism produced by a collective known as Engage Sri Lanka covers these issues in far more detail than I can do here. They have the good judgment to cite me on several occasions. Channel 4 Spokesperson, News Editor Ben de Pear, attempted to rubbish the book but did not in any way address the detailed concerns raised in it. In fact, he makes it clear that he has not even read it. "I do not have this weighty tome in my hands, so I can't react to everything it says." This 'weighty tome' is a paperback of 222 pages. It is also available online. De Pear's flippant response clearly indicates that he does not want to employ joined-up thinking and address detail. As Padraig Colman is quoted as writing: "There is no room for truth in the world of sound bites".
De Pear hides behind a ruling by the UK regulator, which dismissed a complaint about the programme. "All three times Ofcom found in our favour, found our journalism to be balanced and objective and dismissed all Sri Lankan complaints. All other complaints made by the government were ignored by Ofcom."
No, they did not. This is what Ofcom said: "While all subjects in news programmes must be presented with due impartiality and reported with due accuracy, in other non-news programmes there is no requirement in the Code for issues to be treated with due accuracy." Ofcom, despite what de Pear claimed, did not find in Channel 4's favour in the sense that it decided that they had reported the truth. Ofcom decided not to require Channel 4 to respond to the 'detailed and lengthy concerns' raised in the complaint simply because it would be too expensive for them and it might discourage broadcasters from making controversial programmes.
Engage Sri Lanka make an excellent point in their conclusion. "Channel 4 seems oblivious to the fact that their dubious allegations about the conflict in Sri Lanka are artificially sustaining what remains of the LTTE, one of the world's most ruthless terrorist organizations, and elements of the Tamil Diaspora that continues to support it in pursuing unrealistic expectations."
| by Noam Chomsky
( October 22, 2014, Boston, Sri Lanka Guardian) An international poll found that the United States is ranked far in the lead as “the biggest threat to world peace today,” far ahead of second-place Pakistan, with no one else even close.
Imagine that the lead article in Pravda reported a study by the KGB that reviews major terrorist operations run by the Kremlin around the world, in an effort to determine the factors that led to their success or failure, finally concluding that unfortunately successes were rare so that some rethinking of policy is in order. Suppose that the article went on to quote Putin as saying that he had asked the KGB to carry out such inquiries in order to find cases of “financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much.” So he has some reluctance about continuing such efforts.
If, almost unimaginably, such an article were to appear, cries of outrage and indignation would rise to the heavens, and Russia would be bitterly condemned – or worse -- not only for the vicious terrorist record openly acknowledged, but for the reaction among the leadership and the political class: no concern, except how well Russian state terrorism works and whether the practices can be improved.
It is indeed hard to imagine that such an article might appear, except for the fact that it just did – almost.
On October 14, the lead story in the New York Times reported a study by the CIA that reviews major terrorist operations run by the White House around the world, in an effort to determine the factors that led to their success or failure, finally concluding that unfortunately successes were rare so that some rethinking of policy is in order. The article went on to quote Obama as saying that he had asked the CIA to carry out such inquiries in order to find cases of “financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much.” So he has some reluctance about continuing such efforts.
There were no cries of outrage, no indignation, nothing.
The conclusion seems quite clear. In western political culture, it is taken to be entirely natural and appropriate that the Leader of the Free World should be a terrorist rogue state and should openly proclaim its eminence in such crimes. And it is only natural and appropriate that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and liberal constitutional lawyer who holds the reins of power should be concerned only with how to carry out such actions more efficaciously.
A closer look establishes these conclusions quite firmly.
The article opens by citing US operations “from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba.” Let us add a little of what is omitted.
In Angola, the US joined South Africa in providing the crucial support for Jonas Savimbi’s terrorist UNITA army, and continued to do so after Savimbi had been roundly defeated in a carefully monitored free election and even after South Africa had withdrawn support from this “monster whose lust for power had brought appalling misery to his people,” in the words of British Ambassador to Angola Marrack Goulding, seconded by the CIA station chief in neighboring Kinshasa who warned that “it wasn’t a good idea” to support the monster “because of the extent of Savimbi’s crimes. He was terribly brutal.”
Despite extensive and murderous US-backed terrorist operations in Angola, Cuban forces drove South African aggressors out of the country, compelled them to leave illegally occupied Namibia, and opened the way for the Angolan election in which, after his defeat, Savimbi “dismissed entirely the views of nearly 800 foreign elections observers here that the balloting…was generally free and fair” (New York Times), and continued the terrorist war with US support.
Cuban achievements in the liberation of Africa and ending of Apartheid were hailed by Nelson Mandela when he was finally released from prison. Among his first acts was to declare that “During all my years in prison, Cuba was an inspiration and Fidel Castro a tower of strength… [Cuban victories] destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor [and] inspired the fighting masses of South Africa … a turning point for the liberation of our continent — and of my people — from the scourge of apartheid. … What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations to Africa?”
The terrorist commander Henry Kissinger, in contrast, was “apoplectic” over the insubordination of the “pipsqueak” Castro who should be “smash[ed],” as reported by William Leogrande and Peter Kornbluh in their book Back Channel to Cuba, relying on recently declassified documents.
Turning to Nicaragua, we need not tarry on Reagan’s terrorist war, which continued well after the International Court of Justice ordered Washington to cease its “illegal use of force” – that is, international terrorism -- and pay substantial reparations, and after a resolution of the UN Security Council that called on all states (meaning the US) to observe international law – vetoed by Washington.
It should be acknowledged, however, that Reagan’s terrorist war against Nicaragua – extended by Bush I, the “statesman” Bush -- was not as destructive as the state terrorism he backed enthusiastically in El Salvador and Guatemala. Nicaragua had the advantage of having an army to confront the US-run terrorist forces, while in the neighboring states the terrorists assaulting the population were the security forces armed and trained by Washington.
In a few weeks we will be commemorating the Grand Finale of Washington’s terrorist wars in Latin America: the murder of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, by an elite terrorist unit of the Salvadoran army, the Atlacatl Battalion, armed and trained by Washington, acting on the explicit orders of the High Command, and with a long record of massacres of the usual victims.
This shocking crime on November 16, 1989, at the Jesuit University in San Salvador was the coda to the enormous plague of terror that spread over the continent after John F. Kennedy changed the mission of the Latin American military from “hemispheric defense” – an outdated relic of World War II – to “internal security,” which means war against the domestic population. The aftermath is described succinctly by Charles Maechling, who led US counterinsurgency and internal defense planning from 1961 to 1966. He described Kennedy’s 1962 decision as a shift from toleration “of the rapacity and cruelty of the Latin American military” to “direct complicity” in their crimes, to US support for “the methods of Heinrich Himmler’s extermination squads.”
All forgotten, not the “right kind of facts.”
In Cuba, Washington’s terror operations were launched in full fury by President Kennedy to punish Cubans for defeating the US-run Bay of Pigs invasion. As described by historian Piero Gleijeses, JFK “asked his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to lead the top-level interagency group that oversaw Operation Mongoose, a program of paramilitary operations, economic warfare, and sabotage he launched in late 1961 to visit the 'terrors of the earth' on Fidel Castro and, more prosaically, to topple him.”
The phrase “terrors of the earth” is quoted from Kennedy associate and historian Arthur Schlesinger, in his quasi-official biography of Robert Kennedy, who was assigned responsibility for conducting the terrorist war. RFK informed the CIA that the Cuban problem carries “[t]he top priority in the United States Government -- all else is secondary -- no time, no effort, or manpower is to be spared” in the effort to overthrow the Castro regime, and to bring “the terrors of the earth” to Cuba.
The terrorist war launched by the Kennedy brothers was no small affair. It involved 400 Americans, 2,000 Cubans, a private navy of fast boats, and a $50 million annual budget, run in part by a Miami CIA station functioning in violation of the Neutrality Act and, presumably, the law banning CIA operations in the United States. Operations included bombing of hotels and industrial installations, sinking of fishing boats, poisoning of crops and livestock, contamination of sugar exports, etc. Some of these operations were not specifically authorized by the CIA but carried out by the terrorist forces it funded and supported, a distinction without a difference in the case of official enemies.
The Mongoose terrorist operations were run by General Edward Lansdale, who had ample experience in US-run terrorist operations in the Philippines and Vietnam. His timetable for Operation Mongoose called for “open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime” in October 1962, which, for “final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention” after terrorism and subversion had laid the basis.
October 1962 is, of course, a very significant moment in modern history. It was in that month that Nikita Khrushchev sent missiles to Cuba, setting off the missile crisis that came ominously close to terminal nuclear war. Scholarship now recognizes that Khrushchev was in part motivated by the huge US preponderance in force after Kennedy had responded to his calls for reduction in offensive weapons by radically increasing the US advantage, and in part by concern over a possible US invasion of Cuba. Years later, Kennedy’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recognized that Cuba and Russia were justified in fearing an attack. “If I were in Cuban or Soviet shoes, I would have thought so, too,” McNamara observed at a major international conference on the missile crisis on the 40th anniversary.
The highly regarded policy analyst Raymond Garthoff, who had many years of direct experience in US intelligence, reports that in the weeks before the October crisis erupted, a Cuban terrorist group operating from Florida with US government authorization carried out “a daring speedboat strafing attack on a Cuban seaside hotel near Havana where Soviet military technicians were known to congregate, killing a score of Russians and Cubans.” And shortly after, he continues, the terrorist forces attacked British and Cuban cargo ships and again raided Cuba, among other actions that were stepped up in early October. At a tense moment of the still-unresolved missile crisis, on November 8, a terrorist team dispatched from the United States blew up a Cuban industrial facility after the Mongoose operations had been officially suspended. Fidel Castro alleged that 400 workers had been killed in this operation, guided by “photographs taken by spying planes.” Attempts to assassinate Castro and other terrorist attacks continued immediately after the crisis terminated, and were escalated again in later years.
There has been some notice of one rather minor part of the terror war, the many attempts to assassinate Castro, generally dismissed as childish CIA shenanigans. Apart from that, none of what happened has elicited much interest or commentary. The first serious English-language inquiry into the impact on Cubans was published in 2010 by Canadian researcher Keith Bolender, in his Voices From The Other Side: An Oral History Of Terrorism Against Cuba, a very valuable study largely ignored.
The three examples highlighted in the New York Times report of US terrorism are only the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, it is useful to have this prominent acknowledgment of Washington’s dedication to murderous and destructive terror operations and of the insignificance of all of this to the political class, which accepts it as normal and proper that the US should be a terrorist superpower, immune to law and civilized norms.
Oddly, the world may not agree. An international poll released a year ago by the Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association (WIN/GIA) found that the United States is ranked far in the lead as “the biggest threat to world peace today,” far ahead of second-place Pakistan (doubtless inflated by the Indian vote), with no one else even close.
Fortunately, Americans were spared this insignificant information.
Noam Chomsky is professor of the MIT Institute of Linguistics (Emeritus).