“UN finds of cluster munitions in Sri Lanka,” – a canard

Sat, 2012-04-28 07:14 — editor

By K.T.Rajasingham
Colombo, 28 April, (Asiantribune.com):

Asian Tribune concludes that the sensationalized news report “UN finds cluster munitions in Sri Lanka,” is a canard and nothing else. I personally took the trouble to contact all those involved in that news report, and to go into the bottom of it, I spoke to Ravi Nessman, AP Bureau Chief For South Asia based in New Delhi, who filed the News item.

Also I contacted Allan Poston, the technical adviser for the U.N. Development Program’s mine action group in Sri Lanka, Ms. Madushala Senaratne, Communication officer of the UNDP Office in Colombo, Monty Ranatunga – Director, Mine Action centre in Sri Lanka, and Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya Spokes person of the Sri Lanka Army.

After analyzing their responses, I came to the conclusion that the story was planted, someone is fishing in the troubled waters – a revenged at last realized.

Ravi Nessman in his news story “Cluster bombs find in Sri Lanka,” said that, “The Associated Press obtained a copy on Thursday of an email written by a U.N. land mine expert that said unexploded cluster bomblets were discovered in the Puthukudiyiruppu area of northern Sri Lanka, where a boy was killed last month and his sister injured as they tried to pry apart an explosive device they had found to sell for scrap metal.”

Ravi Nessman wrote that “The email was written by Allan Poston, the technical adviser for the U.N. Development Program’s mine action group in Sri Lanka. He confirmed that his email to superior officials in the UN Headquarters, which was quoted by the media, was only meant to explore the possibility of obtaining further assistance for Mine Action Program in Sri Lanka and that he made no reference to alleged use of cluster munitions by the Sri Lankan Forces.

He added, “After reviewing additional photographs from the investigation teams, I have determined that there are cluster sub-munitions in the area where the children were collecting scrap metal and in the house where the accident occurred. This is the first time that there has been confirmed unexploded sub-munitions found in Sri Lanka,” the email said.

In the meantime Media Centre For National Security said in a press release, “The UNDP official quoted in the news report has confirmed that his email to superior officials in the UN Headquarters, which was quoted by the media, was only meant to explore the possibility of obtaining further assistance for Mine Action Program in Sri Lanka and that he made no reference to alleged use of cluster munitions by the Sri Lankan Forces.”

Asian Tribune contacted Allan Posten for his comments. He told Asian Tribune to contact UNDP and the Mine Action Group.

Asian Tribune tried to contact the UNDP chief in Colombo Subinay Nandy and I was told that he was on an overseas telephone call and my call was passed on to Ms. Mudushala Senaratne, the Communication Officer at the UNDP office in Colombo. She was of little help and requested to send in an e-mail, but until at the time of posting this news report, the email sent by Asian Tribune went unanswered.

Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasekera , Sri Lanka Army spokesperson to media said that the National Mine Action Centre is the authority which coordinates the entire gamut of things when it comes to mine clearings , and issuing of certificates for resettlements of people .

He said that National Mine Action Centre has regional offices all over especially in the North and East and none of these regional offices have informed about such findings and Mr. Allan Posten also has not indicated any substantial evidence to his claim.

Army Spokesperson added that when mines are found those mines are destroyed not by those agencies involved in the demining, but by the Sri Lanka Army, with the supervision of the National Mine Action Regional officers.

He added that at no point of time has there been a report to say that such items are brought to the notice of the Sri Lanka Army for the purpose of destruction once it has been discovered. But this has so far never happened. I do not know on what evidence Mr. Posten is basing his claim.

In fact he has not issued a statement but what happened is it has been quoted that one of his e-mail as the source of the AP News. We do not know how true is this either.

When Asian Tribune asked the Army Media Spokesman how these Cluster munitions are fired, he said though I am an artillery officer we have not been trained about how either to handle or fire cluster munitions.

When asked whether there was any possibility for LTTE to have such unexploded cluster munitions. He said that the question is too hypothetical because we are not certain whether unexploded cluster munitions were found as reported by the AP news report, but he said that he can’t rule it out that Cluster munitions were in LTTE possession.

When Asian tribune contacted some journalists in Sri Lanka they informed that about the writer of the news story, Ravi Nessman there are some information to say that he has some personal grudge against the Sri Lankan Government for not issuing his visa for his continued stay in Sri Lanka.

“This gentleman has some personal grudge against the Government of Sri Lanka for his visa was not granted.” said a journalist whom I contacted who wishes to remain anonymous.

In the meantime, It was reported in the Tamil Net dated 22 July 2009,” Associated Press reported Tuesday that AP’s bureau chief in Sri Lanka, Ravi Nessman, left Sri Lanka Monday after Colombo refused to extend Nessman’s journalist visa. “We find this failure to renew Ravi’s visa disturbing,” John Daniszewski, AP’s senior managing editor for international news, was quoted as saying in media reports. Colombo reports said that Nessman broke news of private U.N. reports outlining civilian death tolls, and also revealed the “first word of a government document from January outlining a plan to keep hundreds of thousands of displaced” Tamil civilians in the camps for up to three years. “

When I contacted Allan Poston, the technical adviser for the U.N. Development Program’s mine action group in Sri Lanka, he said I know what you exactly wanted to talk with me, but the best person you should talk is the people in the National Mine Action Centre or you can talk directly to UNDP. I am not answering any questions.

When I reminded him that his name is there in the AP News report and also that they have more or less based this news report on the E-mail of yours. He said I am not going to answer anything.

When I asked him how was it possible that Ravi Nessman was able lay hands on the e-mail you have sent to someone?

Allan Posten said I am not going to say anything. You ask Monty Ranatunga – Director, Mine Action Sri Lanka, or the UNDP. When I asked whether he sent an email to Nessman, he said with finality that he is not going to answer my questions and said “Have a wonderful weekend. “

Subsequently When I contacted the UNDP Office in Colombo and asked the telephone operator to connect me to UNDP Chief Subinay Nandy, the operator put me on the hold and came back to me that he is on an overseas telephone call and suggested me to speak to Ms. Madusha Senaratne, the Communication Officer of the UNDP office in Colombo.

When I spoke to her I found that she is of little or no use to me. She requested me to send her an email and accordingly I e-mailed her with my questions and unfortunately I did not receive any response from her until such time I post this news.

When I asked Monty Ranatunga – Director, Mine Action Sri Lanka,
about the AP news item which reported of the findings of unexploded cluster munitions in the North, he said they are investigating on the report and so far they haven’t received anything whether such unexploded cluster munitions were found in the North. He said that the Sri Lanka Army is conducting the investigation on that news item and until the investigation is over he won’t be able to give an authoritative response, He said so far the demining people from the North has not reported of any such finds of unexploded cluster munitions.
He also said that though he is the director of Mine Action in Sri Lanka he has so far not come across any unexploded cluster munitions.

When asked whether he knows Alla Posten he said yes I know him. He said that even this morning he spoke to Allan Posten on some other technical matters but he did not raise anything about the findings of unexploded cluster munitions in the North.

At last When I contacted Ravi Nessman AP Bureau Chief For South Asia whether you were in Sri Lanka he said yes. When asked whether Sri Lanka Government refused his visa extension, he said that I can find that information in the internet and his visa was not renewed. I told him that you have filed this cluster munitions story because if the vengeance you nursed against Sri Lanka Government, He said that I can’t comment but I will tell you that this visa story incident is now three years old. I haven’t lived in Sri Lanka in the last three years and he asked me how long a human being can hold grudge – harboring grudge over a visa issue for that I said ‘I don’t know. It depends on individual’s mentality.’

I told Ravi Nessman that I have visited every nook and corner of Vanni, spoken to several dozens of IDPs and I am in touch with lot of Army officers and I haven’t come across anybody mentioning about whether cluster munitions were ever used in the final stages of the battle with the LTTE.

I told him as a Sri Lanka I trust what Sri Lankan Army says,
He said that Allen Posten did not send him the e-mail on which he based his news story. He said that he has his email, but he did not say how he got that e-mail and said that he does not want to comment on that. He also said Allen Posten did not know him and he has nothing to do with him.

– Asian Tribune –

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