Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence reviews Trevor Grant’s new book SRI LANKA'S SECRETS — a brilliant exposé of Australia’s genocidal good friends, Sri Lanka’s brutal Rajapaksa regime.
SOME WILL BANDAGE THEIR HEARTS to stem the emotional bleeding after reading Trevor Grant's explosive dossier on
SRI LANKA'S SECRETS: HOW THE RAJAPAKSA REGIME GETS AWAY WITH MURDER.
I'd like to add another subtitle to sound a warning to Sri Lanka's duplicitous and toxic Government:
...For the time being...
It is not only crushing to read of our capacity for cruelty and inhumanity towards one another, but also to discover that in Sri Lanka's house of indisputable genocidal horrors, Australia remains not only a much-feted regular houseguest, but we have also allowed the wire threads of political, corporate and financial interests to sew our lips together and buy our silence.
What is more, like a number of other countries, we are a shameless and strutting actor, complicit in trying to ignore the massacre of an estimated 40,000 – 70,000 innocent, mostly Tamil, civilians — including babies, women and children, who were duped into being herded into a formally declared 'No Fire Zone' only to be callously bombed by the Sri Lankan Government on land, from sea and air until reduced to mere human pulp.
The stories are horrific. One witness describes the aftermath of what seemed suspiciously like the after effects of phosphorous bombs.
I saw several bodies where the skin on the face and the side was burnt and peeled off.
The army kept saying there were LTTE guns around us, around these hospitals. It was a lie.
There were none in the area...
BABY SUCKLING ON BREAST OF DEAD MOTHER
In the week of May 2009, a queue of people who lined up for food and water were killed by a shell strike.
A few weeks before this incident,
… a temporary child health care centre suffered the same fate.
The same witness said his friend found a baby, still alive, suckling on the breast of its dead mother.
I have seen the same, ever-haunting, morale-shattering scene in Ethiopia during famine.
In Canberra at this moment, Australia is harbouring at least one alleged Sir Lankan war criminal, the most prominent being the High Commissioner of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, himself — Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe.
The Admiral is flourishing under the sly and indecent diplomatic immunity that our sly and indecent Australian Government accords him.
KIDS FLYING KITES BOMBED TO PIECES. WOMEN SLICED IN HALF. MEN REDUCED TO PILES OF ASH
In Grant's Chapter Seven, 'Shot like fish in a barrel', referring to the callous No Fire Zone attacks, he writes of how the Admiral was one of the men in charge of the sustained bombardment and massacre.
It was [over] these attacks that Admiral Thirasa Samarasinghe, then commander of naval operations in the north and east....has been accused of war crimes by a number of respected organisations, including the International Commission of Jurists...
Hemmed in on all sides, there was no escape from the murderous trap set by the Sri Lankan military. Death became an hourly occurrence in anyone's immediate vicinity. The bodies of kids who had been flying kites lay in pieces along the beach; women carrying water were sliced in half by flying shrapnel and men desperately trying to dig new shelters in the ground were reduced to a grey, smouldering pile of ash by a direct hit from a shell.
How is it that Australia dares feign outrage over massacres elsewhere, but gives diplomatic asylum to the likes of the greasy Admiral Samarasinghe – whilst refusing asylum to his very victims whose lives remain imperiled.?
For almost thirty bloody years civil war raged between the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( LTTE) and the Sri Lankan Government, in what has become known as a 'war without witness', given the expulsion and continuing embargo against the United Nations, Human Rights and other independent observers and Non-Government Organisations.
Justice will inevitably catch up with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts and, when it does, no small credit must be given to this courageous book by Trevor Grant and the many heroic whistleblower 'ordinary citizens' who have contributed to it, with photos taken on secreted mobile phones and who provided written and verbal testimonies, including from doctors and medical staff.
Perverse attribution must also be paid to the horrible trophy 'selfies' taken by the cowardly perpetrators, whilst openly committing atrocities and indulging in an orgy of wholesale killing and torture of innocent civilians, including babies and children.
Thus evidence of explicit war crimes is provided courtesy of the criminals themselves.
But SRI LANKA’S SECRETS is certainly no whitewash brushed over the murderous conduct of some of the Tamil Tigers during the bloody Civil War. Make no mistake, both sides need to be investigated for War Crimes. Inevitably, they will be.
Human Rights Advocate Geoffrey Robertson QC, in his foreword to SRI LANKA’S SECRETS acknowledges that the Tamil Tigers
… were bloody terrorists who committed war crimes against their own people in their final days.
But this is the point: States have a responsibility to protect the lives of all their people. Terrorism by a few of those people provides no excuse for planned killing of vast numbers of civilians – that is state terrorism, an altogether more wicked thing...
If Tamils are not accorded equal rights in Sri Lanka – and they never have been – then they are entitled to autonomy. If the repression continues, they are entitled to independence...
A few weeks ago, much to the chagrin of the Rajapaksa regime, the European Court of Justice annulled the proscribing of the LTTE as terrorists.
Brutality by the Tamil Tigers is a point also made by Trevor Grant in his book and echoed by both he and Human Rights lawyer and venerated national treasure, Julian Burnside QC at the Melbourne launch at Carlton's Readings bookshop.
Trevor Grant, Julian Burnside QC and Dr Nathan Hollier at the Melbourne Launch of SRI LANKA'S SECRETS (Image via Monash University Publishing)
THE FALLING MAN AT THE SRI LANKA'S SECRETS LAUNCH
The launch had its own dramatic moment when a member of the audience fainted, but was caught in his fall by this correspondent and others.
The man fainted about the time Grant recounted an horrendous account in July this year of the systematic eleven day pack rape of two young Tamil schoolgirls – one aged 9 and the other aged ll –by seven military personnel from the nearby Karainagar Naval Base.
I had asked Grant if Australia had any presence or involvement at this base.
Luckily, there was a doctor present who took the gentleman's pulse and gave him the all clear.
Despite calls from an unidentified voice in the large audience to halt the launch, your correspondent raised her voice to urge that it continue. Grant and Burnside returned to the microphones and the question and answer session resumed.
As yet no-one seems to be able to identify either the man who fainted or the man who called out to end the launch. Hmm…
AUSTRALIA MUTE TO SEXUAL SLAVERY OF TAMIL GIRLS AT HANDS AND PENISES OF SINHALESE MASTERS
Whilst Australia lends its voice to feebly condemn the likes of Boko Haram in their rape and abduction of girls and women, let alone the burgeoning incidence of home grown violence against women in Australia, we have remained mute about the daily rapes and sexual slavery now being endured by Tamil girls in particular, at the hands and penises of their Sinhalese masters.
Females are not the only ones subjected to rape and sexual slavery.
The book includes an harrowing interview with a male subjected to systematic rape and sexual torture during the dying days of the civil war — a slow dying that continues to this day.
Grant has given a pseudonym, Maravan, to protect the social worker and dancer who worked for the Red Cross and
'… in the concentration camps that saw 300,000 men, women and children detained in the most appalling disease-ridden conditions.'
Sri Lanka's civil war is over, but people are still being "disappeared" - often vanishing in unmarked white vans: http://t.co/mkhr5KHxzw— The I Files (@ifiles) November 18, 2013
This victim was taken away in one of the ubiquitous 'white vans' ‒ which so many disappeared, never to return ‒ on July 23, 2013.
Here is part of his testimony on the sexual violence he endured by the Sri Lankan military.
They were always drunk when this happened.
They tied my testicles to the window with a rope and put fire ants in my ears. They put bicycle spokes in my penis.
They also put a metal rod into my anus as well as the neck of a bottle. The pain was unbearable.
I was raped regularly, by whoever was on duty.
Some of them would bite me on the chest as they raped me, they were like animals or on drugs. They put a petrol-soaked shopping bag into my underwear against my genitals. I was tortured the day after I got there and it went on once a day in some form until I got out of there on August 28.
Trevor Grant performs an investigative journalistic autopsy upon the civil war, documenting its history and consequences as well as its loitering brutalities against the Tamils and other minorities.
SRI LANKA'S SECRETS is an unapologetic gruelling read. But it is also a compelling and an invaluable library resource, as well as an important historical and legal document.
It should be compulsive reading for all ministers and other politicians, diplomats and public servants.
This is a book that Prime Minister Rajapaksa didn't want published. Nor did his Aussie mates.
And he certainly doesn't want it to land on Sri Lanka's shores. Copies have already been smuggled into the country.
It is a badge of honour that Trevor Grant, advocate and press officer for the Tamil Refugee Council and Friends of Refugees, was refused a visa to Sri Lanka to cover last year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo.
Independent Australia's sources have confirmed that the Australian Government supported Sri Lanka's ban to deny entry to Grant.
Grant is a mighty journalist and one whose sense of justice is as fine as his pen. For readers it is a happy coupling on this grim subject. The hard word must be spoken. And written. And he has given voice to the voiceless and vulnerable.
We must not forget that he is also speaking for the dead.
Many will recognise Trevor Grant's byline from his celebrated sports writing — especially on cricket.
He has always been more than a mere commentator and statistician, and his formidable literary talents capture the widening spheres of the human — and inhumane condition of this sordid and complex saga.
You will read about how the Rajapaksa dynasty remains virtually unchallenged in its intent to eliminate all trace of Tamil identity; certainly, here is a textbook case of sustained cultural genocide of a minority group.
You will learn of how the civil war in Sri Lanka is yet another bloody offspring of colonial yoke, and how the regime is trying to get rid of skeletal and other forensic evidence from its killing fields.
His book is part of Monash University Publishing’s 'Investigating Power' series and the division's manager Dr Nathan Hollier, a former editor of Overland magazine and author of Ruling Australia: The Power, Privilege & Politics of the New Ruling Class, deserves a citation for his courage and initiative, given how some universities might capitulate to government and corporate pressure and interference.
This article is not so much a review, but rather an endorsement to not only read SRI LANKA'S SECRETS but also, by purchasing it through our online shop at a special price for our growing family of readers, we can team up to support such writing and publishing.
Independent Australia is committed to speaking truth to power. You will read our combined efforts every day.
Several months ago, we published an article directed at Minister for Immigration, posterboy Christian and wannabe Minister for Everything Scott Morrison, detailing the toxic level of blatant nepotism that exists in the Rajapaksa Government.
The Rajapaksas make Italy's Medici and Australia's Obeid family clan cartels look like rank amateurs and bring another perspective to Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
Sri Lanka now employs a phalanx of public relations firms and lobbyists whose sole role is to sanitise and rehabilitate its image, especially in the Obama administration. This can be regarded as a compliment to the strength of the Tamil community and diaspora in seeking justice and equal rights.
We know how and why the Rajapaksa regime gets away with murder.
Australia remains not only an accomplice but can be regarded as an accessory after the fact. We are a country that has unquestionably colluded in harbouring alleged war criminals who remain free to stroll through our Parliament and city streets.
SRI LANKA'S SECRETS are not secrets any more.
Trevor Grant also presents Refugee Radio on radio station 3CR, every Sunday, from 10am to 10.30am. (He also present What's the Score $port? (Trev can't help himself) every Friday, 5pm to 5.30pm.) You can follow Trevor Grant on Twitter @TrevorGrant10.
Meeting with HE Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, High Commissioner for Sri Lanka pic.twitter.com/unz3vEELnh— Julie Bishop (@JulieBishopMP) October 11, 2013
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License