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Siobhain McDonagh’s researcher

After the meeting held recently in the House of Commons, a young man who claimed to be Siobhain McDonagh’s researcher (and also to work for the Bank of Scotland, during a later conversation) agreed to send me video footage of attacks on hospitals. He claimed he had a lot, and this substantiated a clip he had prepared of Dr Shanmugarajah saying that the Sri Lankan forces were attacking the hospital at which he was working.

Predictably he did not send me that footage. That decision was, he said, after careful consideration, which I could understand. I suspect that footage was what had been supplied to Channel 4. We know from that meeting that Siobhain McDonagh had been in touch with Channel 4 over the making of its film. It would certainly have been very telling if material for that film had been supplied to Channel 4 by her researcher, after which she claimed that the film was an objective account on which she based her allegations against Sri Lanka.

Fortunately her researcher, Canaa as he told me his name was, or Daran as he signed himself in and then emailed me, could not let well alone. In addition to sending me the clip of Dr Shanmugarajah talking, he sent me two more clips. One was gruesome, and seemed to be of the dead body of a soldier being carried by fellow soldiers talking in Sinhalese. It dwelt horrendously on his mutilated face. I could see no reason for this except triumphalism, to be used perhaps as propaganda, to show how effective LTTE terrorism was.

Daran however told me, when I asked him, that he had obtained the clip from a site selling film clips made by Sinhalese soldiers. When I asked him how much he had paid for this, he said he had got it free, as a sample. I think the story most unlikely, because it is extremely unlikely that fellow soldiers, even if filming the bringing back of a dead body, would have dwelt quite so ostentatiously on a mutilated face.

Even more suspicious was the second video, that of what seemed to be an aerial attack. The first part had planes flying and smoke rising, but the main substance was the footage of wailing over dead bodies. Some of the wailing also seemed exaggerated and false, but that is of course a subjective view. Clear was the fact that nothing actually connected the latter pictures to the former, and it seemed clear to even an amateur eye like mine that there had been a great deal of editing.

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Heyns & Alston

In trying to understand the extraordinary performance with regard to Sri Lanka of the present and the last UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, I am reminded constantly of what I was told by the previous Indian Ambassador to the Human Rights Council. When we were discussing the excessive number of UN employees from the West, he noted that, apart from that community of interests, they most of them came from the same sort of background. Thinking in terms of the interests of the Non-Governmental Organizations in which most of their work experience lay, they were unable to understand the basic principles on which the United Nations were founded, which gave primacy to the sovereignty of its member states. Read the rest of this entry »

Christof Heyns & Philip Alston

While obviously opinions will differ on the professional skills as well as the intellectual and moral reliability of experts used for various purposes, the characters Philip Alston and Christof  Heyns have used in their interchangeable impersonations of each other seem particularly strange.

I have noted already that the Heyns Report records that ‘The Government of Sri Lanka has discovered that Mr Spivack in a technical representative for a brand of specialised proprietary software which was used to enhance the video (2009) and which was shared with two other experts. Hence the assertion of independence may be impugned on the basis of the prior collaboration between the experts. The recipient experts responsible for ballistics and forensic pathology  both based their conclusion on the conclusions on the enhanced video provided by Mr. Spivack. Furthermore he does not at any point acknowledge the usage of the specialised software which has had a profound impact on the analysis.

The consultants however, as previously admit to what the Special Rapporteurs suppress, and Diaczuk  seems to admit that all he looked at was what Spivack sent on to him when he writes, ‘The video in question was initially received by traditional mail from Mr Jeff Spivack on 26-January-2011 burned onto a DVD, along with stills and short segments that have been stabilized to facilitate critical review.’ While Mr Heyns declares that his experts, or at least these three, provided their comments free of charge, he should also indicate whether any charges were levied for the technical services required to provide what is presented as stabilization ‘to facilitate critical review’. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeff S. Spivac - Founder, Covert Sciences

The double standards that are patent in the report of Christof Heyns on the Channel 4 video almost defy belief. I have already pointed out how he falsified what his predecessor said about Siri Hewa, while himself using experts who had previously acted as advisers on this same issue, all from the same country which, at least if the public pronouncements of some of its leading diplomats are anything to go by, seems to have prejudged several issues.

These experts have finally admitted that the footage has been edited. This was not mentioned previously, whereas now it is trotted out as providing very simple explanations of what seemed inexplicable previously. Since Alston had previously claimed that, while there were ‘a small number of characteristics which the experts were not able to explain….Each of these characteristics can, however, be explained in a manner which is entirely consistent with the conclusion that the videotape appears to be authentic’.

Why then were these not explained previously? The answer seems to lie in the fact that, until it became too obvious for even this bunch of so-called experts to deny, the fact that the video was edited was suppressed.

Grant Fredricks - Avid Editing Solutions

But, in admitting that the video was edited, it is stressed that this was only ‘the type of rudimentary editing possible on a mobile phone’. There is no attempt however at explaining why, in the course of this editing, the order in which events are supposed to have occurred has been transposed. As Grant Fredericks puts it, ‘The first four segments were actually recorded in the following chronological order:

• Segment 3,

• Segment 2,

• Segment 1,

• Segment 4’.

The experts go out of their way to claim that the events in the video are authentic, which suggests that they have completely missed the point of the initial Sri Lankan government reaction. Mr Alston brought a video to our attention and we claimed that this video had been tampered with. This was initially denied, but now it has been granted that not only was the video edited, but that the events it depicts were transposed. None of this was admitted earlier, which surely suggests that there should be further investigation of those who supplied the video before it can be so conclusively asserted that a prima facie case has been established. Read the rest of this entry »

Philip Alston – Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Amongst the many absurdities in the Channel 4 saga is the complete impunity enjoyed by Channel 4. In August 2009 it showed a video which led to an immediate response from Philip Alston, the Earlier Christof Heyns. Alston’s initial letter, which was accompanied by a press release, was immediately responded to with a request that he investigate the video which Channel 4 had shown, since it was not clear whether he was asking the Sri Lankan government to investigate the video or the incident depicted on the video.

Alston typically dodged the question, and went into a long spiel about how my response was ‘equivalent to a police officer telling an alleged victim that no investigation will take place until the victim can definitely prove to the officer’s satisfaction that the alleged crime took place’. This was the sort of obfuscation Alston specializes in, because I cannot believe that a Professor could not tell the difference between asking someone who reports a crime for further details and asking an actual victim. Indeed Alston’s density or low cunning became more apparent when he subsequently claimed that the situation was similar to that in which ‘an individual was beaten up or raped and reported the matter to the police, but because of the trauma suffered was unable to identify when or where the alleged assault took place’.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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