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Archive for January 9th, 2010

Sri Lanka And The Tamils.

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The Sri Lankan army’s assault on the Tamil Tigers last year was particularly bloody. Civilians were killed in the onslaught and there was comparatively little media coverage, despite the numbers involved. It has emerged that there was the summary execution of Tamil Tigers by the Sri Lankan military as a press release from the UN states:

“GENEVA — Reports by three independent experts strongly point to the authenticity of a videotape released by Channel 4 in Britain which appears to show the summary execution of bound, blindfolded, and naked Tamils by Sri Lankan soldiers. This was announced today by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, on the basis of detailed analyses conducted by recognized experts in forensic pathology, forensic video analysis, and firearm evidence.

Alston commissioned the three reports following the publication of four opinions by Sri Lankan experts, all of which concluded that the video was a fake. The Government of Sri Lanka informed the UN Human Rights Council that it would therefore not be undertaking any investigation of the allegations made. “Senior Government officials called upon me to apologize and to withdraw the allegations,” said Alston. “They also criticized me for not having undertaken my own technical analysis. In response to that criticism and to what seemed to me the patent inadequacies of the reports commissioned by the Government (two of which were prepared by officials of the Sri Lankan army), I requested highly qualified and totally independent experts to undertake evaluations.”

Alston released the full text of the expert opinions in a “Technical Note” made public in New York today. “Together, the reports by these experts strongly suggest that the video is authentic,” Alston stated.

“Given these conclusions, and in light of the persistent flow of other allegations of extrajudicial executions by both sides during the closing phases of the war against the LTTE, I call for the establishment of an independent inquiry to carry out an impartial investigation into war crimes and other grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law allegedly committed in Sri Lanka.”

Alston summarized the key findings of the experts:

Mr Peter Diaczuk, an expert in firearms evidence, concluded that the recoil, movement of the weapon and the shooter, and the gases expelled from the muzzle in both apparent shootings were consistent with firing live ammunition, and not with shooting blank cartridges.

Dr Daniel Spitz, a prominent forensic pathologist, found that the footage appeared authentic, especially with respect to the two individuals who are shown being shot in the head at close range. He found that the body reaction, movement, and blood evidence was entirely consistent with what would be expected in such shootings.

Mr Jeff Spivack, an expert in forensic video analysis, found no evidence of breaks in continuity in the video, no additional video layers, and no evidence of image manipulation.”

The Times has more.

Something I posted on it last year, a worthwhile question.

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09/01/2010 at 23:32

Roma in Turkey.

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Disturbing news from Turkey:

“Local Roma in the Selendi district of the province of Manisa were taken out of the city and will be relocated elsewhere after being subject to violence that the Roma claimed the mayor of the district provoked.

Early media reports from the Aegean province said fighting began after a member of the Roma community, Burhan Uçkun, wanted to smoke in a coffeehouse. But Uçkun told daily Radikal that it was not about smoking; instead, he said, the owner of the coffeehouse refused to serve him tea.

Uçkun’s father died on the same day of the fight from a heart attack. Five days later, a second fight erupted between the same people, but this time, around 1,000 local people attacked Roma houses, tents and other property.”

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09/01/2010 at 15:51

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Galloway, Hamas And Political Theatre.

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I take an interest in the Middle East and have been following the activities of George Galloway and the convoy for Gaza. In fact, it might be several convoys as a lot of different countries have contributed.

I think the convoy idea is excellent.

I think the fact that Palestinians might get their hands on some well needed goods is an admirable goal.

After all the Palestinians in Gaza deserve our sympathies for living under Hamas rule.

Imagine that you are a Palestinian, you might even have voted for Hamas in 2006 and now you are stuck with them, permanently, with no possibility of voting them out.

You would know, as a Palestinian, that any opposition to Hamas in Gaza is largely futile as Hamas has the monopoly on the weapons of the State and is not afraid to use them. You would naturally remember that Hamas dealt violently with Fatah supporters, murdering many and throwing a few off of buildings, handcuffed. So if you were in Gaza you’d be stuck with Hamas, and if you were a teacher then you’ve probably have been attacked and scabbed on by Hamas.

Palestinians have to put up with a lot as Hamas and others senselessly provoke the Israelis, or as they place rockets in civilian areas, to incite a violent response and deliberately increase civilian casualties.

Hamas do that and much more, and our sympathies should go out to the ordinary Palestinians caught up between wanting to live an ordinary decent life and the violence which emanates from Hamas’s activities.

But what do Hamas long for? The publicity supplied by Galloway and the convoy? Or something else?

Hamas’s priority is not the welfare of the Palestinians, and in all probability the goods from the convoy will go firstly to their own supporters and be used to bolster Hamas’s position within Gaza.

Hamas is more of a “guns before butter” entity as their recent smuggling exercises show, the JP reports:

”Hamas on Friday boasted that it had managed to smuggle new types of weapons into the Gaza Strip despite the blockade, and published photographs of some of the arms it allegedly obtained.

Izz al-Din al- Kassam Brigades published photographs of newly acquired weapons including missiles with a double warhead, 107-mm caliber missiles designed to penetrate fortified structures, and a new type of armor-piercing RPG missile.

Hamas spokesman Abu Ubeida warned that the group has “thousands of fighters and good weapons capable of harming Israel.” “

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09/01/2010 at 01:49