Amnesty Int'l Chief meets Kohona

20 July 2011 03:47 am - 23     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Head of Amnesty International, United Nations Office, Jose Luis Diaz, met with the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Dr. Palitha Kohona, to initiate a dialogue on issues relating to Sri Lanka, particularly those arising from the screening of the Channel-4 video.

This contact followed the comments made by Ambassador Palitha Kohona and Deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador Shavendra Silva, at the screening of the Channel-4 video at the UN Church Centre last month, the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
in New York said in a statement.

Asked about the GOSL response to those who feel that the events close to the end of the conflict must be thoroughly investigated in order to prevent Sri Lanka becoming a model in similar conflict situations, Ambassador Kohona emphasized that Sri Lanka prides itself on being governed by the rule of law and by a long established legal tradition.  Sri Lanka had no intention of being a model to anyone else.  For example, following complaints about a breach of the UN rules of conduct by some of its troops in Haiti, 110 were recalled immediately and investigated and many were punished.

For any matter to be taken before the juridical system, like in other countries, credible evidence was required.  The Channel-4 video, and the Darusman Report, were flawed due to serious inaccuracies, unsubstantiated allegations, suspect (doctored) footage, and simple interpretations, some of it clearly taken from the Tamil Net, the propaganda arm of the LTTE.  It was doubtful that the Channel-4 footage offered the kind of credible evidence that would stand scrutiny before the courts.  Equally importantly, given the country’s limited resources (it was after all, a poor developing country) and the urgency of other pressing issues, it was simply wrong and unethical to pile up pressure only in one area. 

In order to underline the questionable nature of the Channel-4 footage, the Permanent Representative and the Deputy Permanent Representative highlighted a series of instances (posted below) revealing what were clearly enacted scenes filmed for propaganda purposes.  For example, the images of the crowds at the gate of the UN Office in Killinochchi, described with gut wrenching words, by John Snow, appeared to be from two different films;  the blade used in the alleged killing of the Tamil combatant did not have any blood on it; the title of the video “Killing Fields”, was plagiarized from John Pilger’s 1970’s documentary on the Khemer Rouge and used for its heart wrenching effect;  the scenes of terrified civilians fleeing an aerial bombardment, in the original LTTE footage contained the camerapersons and on-lookers; the shells that landed among the IDP tents somehow left the flimsy tents unscathed; the original of the execution video had people speaking in Tamil. Ambassador Kohona commented that organizations such as Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Crisis Group (ICG) placed their credibility at risk by lending their support for dubious and propagandist material manufactured from suspect sources.  He said that organizations that promote such dubious material for whatever reason ran the risk of antagonizing their support base.  He also said that without the endorsement of the AI, HRW and the ICG, the Channel-4 producer Callum Mcrae’s efforts to screen the video in different places would not have succeeded.  When asked by General Silva whether AI would be as diligent in promoting a documentary portraying LTTE atrocities, the Head of the Office of Amnesty International remained silent. 

Dr. Kohona asked Mr. Diaz and the INGOs not to take on the role of persecuting Sri Lanka without solid facts.  He said that because Sri Lanka valued the honour of its security forces, it did not wish to see its military forces which numbered over 200,000 honest and decent men and women and who fought a brutal terrorist group bravely and at immense cost in lives to achieve peace impugned in this manner. 

Ambassador Kohona concluded that judging by the vigor of the Channel 4 campaign and actions of its co-sponsors, the sole aim appeared to be to discredit Sri Lanka.  This was also a goal consistent with the aims of the rump LTTE.  Sri Lanka had not sought to end the conflict militarily but was compelled to do so after being rebuffed repeatedly as it tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict.  While Sri Lankan delegations had attended negotiations three times in 2006, (one delegation was led by Dr. Kohona himself), the LTTE had persisted with a relentless terrorist offensive. 

Exhorting the AI to remain a responsible and credible organization, Ambassador Kohona pointed out that certain developed countries, despite being better resourced, had taken much longer to address alleged infractions of international standards.  Sri Lanka with its limited resources was now being pushed to do the same things in a much shorter period compared with others despite having to address a much more complex range of demands.

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  Comments - 23

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  • Guru Wednesday, 20 July 2011 10:05 AM

    Waste of time.

    Patriot-lol Wednesday, 20 July 2011 10:27 AM

    Whatever said and done,bottom line is Tamils know what happened,telling to them that no one of your kiths and kins were killed deliberately only makes them laugh..!!

    managala Wednesday, 20 July 2011 10:54 AM

    Not Only Tamils Sinhalese and Muslims also knows that their kith and kins were brutally murdered by LTTE which is financially aided by tamil diaspora They know what has happned 30 years too mate.....

    sparks Wednesday, 20 July 2011 04:49 AM

    If criminal and humanitarian crimes would not have happened or did not take place, why did the GOSL exit all humanitarian agencies, independent reporters, foreigners from the north and furher more continued to do so for almost two years after the LTTE was defeated? Kohona needs to answer this question with clear concience and not as a tool of the GOSL.

    andy Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:04 AM

    As for the humanitarian agencies, After the LTTE blocked the aid convoys sent by them as they took the civilians with them past Killinochchi deep into the Mullativu jungle there was nothing else for the HA to do. So instead of letting that get hurt in the conflict which again the fault would have been directed at Gov troops, The MOD asked them to exit the conflict zone because they couldn't practically do anything to help the the civilians.
    As for after the war, there still were LTTE carders hidden among the civilians. and there was a risk that their supporters who were in the NGOs earlier could have helped them to escape before they were found. As it actually did happen a couple of times after the aid agencies were let back in. After all the terrorists were identified the aid agencies were given access to all the refugees camps.

    Sinha Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:13 AM

    Typical "Koheda Yanne Malle Pol" comment

    sinnavi Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:20 AM

    Can GOSL tell in public why during the later stage of the war kicked out NGOs, UN and foreign reporters out of the war zone. The war was conducted without evidence. Those who killed in the final stages of the war, I mean innocent Tamil people, certainly need justice.

    cracko Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:26 AM

    What concience? Not available in those who are recruited by SL Govt.

    M. Silva Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:46 AM

    not recruits. not available in 'cool elected extremists'.

    IND Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:41 AM

    The need is not there now. Simple thing to understand.

    chandra Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:48 AM

    Innocent Tamils were taken out during the operation. Those who killed by LTTE during the operation, who will justify that

    IND Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:48 AM

    What has those NGOs done for the Tamils for the last 30 year from the money they had ?? Nothing ! Main reason is they support LTTE in many ways in the name of NGOs. Simply they are LTTE supporters.

    SL Wednesday, 20 July 2011 06:52 AM

    why did not ask your boss prabhakaran to free the human shield?
    why did not you ask them to stop using children for the war training during the peace talk?
    have you had any concern of tamils?

    pissu Wednesday, 20 July 2011 07:01 AM

    andy, you are now recruited for another diplomatic post. Where would you like to go?.

    chandra Wednesday, 20 July 2011 07:08 AM

    Very good

    GKA Wednesday, 20 July 2011 07:17 AM

    Simple answer. The INGOs did nothing for the people in the area but had done a lot for the LTTE. Huge power generators belonging to a leading INGO was used to power LTTE Bomb making and boat making factories. INGO bowsers were used to carry water and fuel to LTTE camps, INGO tents were used to cover LTTE weapon and fuel dumps. Sewing machines donated by INGOs were used to sew LTTE uniforms in LTTE camps..... what more do you want. There were hundreds of instances where INGO material were found in LTTE offices and camps.

    managala Wednesday, 20 July 2011 08:25 AM

    Well Said andy !! you put some light into blind comments...

    managala Wednesday, 20 July 2011 08:28 AM

    Why Only Tamils what about sinhalese and Muslin aren't they innocent are they supposed flesh out in roads everywhere only tamils have problems with human rights.....

    sparks Wednesday, 20 July 2011 09:07 AM

    This explanation is notorious. Read the UN report which has been compiled using transparency, honesty and conscience by three exemplary and highly respected persons and not by claptrap bogus individuals like you.

    prk Wednesday, 20 July 2011 09:29 AM

    It is the same beat that you hear at the religious pereheras???

    Viktor Wednesday, 20 July 2011 09:41 AM

    Haiti - 110 were recalled immediately .... many were punished. Were they recalled or sent back by the UN ? Punished ? By court martial or by the courts ? How come there was no publicity and we cannot recall anybody being punished ?


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