Remains of 164 Iraqis massacred by Islamic State jihadists exhumed at Saddam Hussein’s palace compound
IRAQ has exhumed the remains of 164 people believed to have been massacred by Islamic State jihadists from mass graves in Tikrit, the human rights ministry has said.
“Search teams have discovered the remains of 164 (victims) so far in four mass graves during work over the past week,” ministry spokesman Kamel Amin told AFP.
He said documents and mobile phones that have been found indicate the dead are victims of the infamous Speicher massacre, named for the military base near which up to 1,700 mostly Shiite recruits were abducted by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group last year.
But DNA testing is required to confirm their identities, Amin said.
Massacred by Islamic State jidahists … An Iraqi man kisses a body-bag lying amid other bags containing the remains of people inside former president Saddam Hussein’s palace compound in Tikrit. Picture: AFP / Ahmad Al-Rubaye Source: AFP
The remains were discovered inside former president Saddam Hussein’s palace compound in Tikrit, which officials say holds 10 mass graves, while three more are located outside it.
The killing of the recruits — which IS documented in photos and videos posted online — stoked widespread anger and helped rally support for the battle against the jihadist group.
The mass grave sites were discovered after Iraqi forces retook the northern city of Tikrit earlier this month in their biggest victory so far against IS.
Buoyed by the success in Tikrit, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Monday he will use a visit to US President Barack Obama to seek increased air support and arms deliveries to aid Baghdad’s battle against jihadists.
“Number one is a marked increase in the air campaign and the delivery of arms,” Abadi told journalists when asked what he wants during a visit to Washington, where he is to meet President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
There has already been an increase, “but we want to see more”, he said before boarding his plane.
“We have an interest in Iraq having good relations with the United States, a solid relationship based on the respect of Iraqi sovereignty and mutual respect,” Abadi said at Baghdad airport.
Unspeakable carnage … A member of the Iraqi security forces wearing protective clothes inspects the mass. Picture: AFP / Ahmad Al-Rubaye Source: AFP
It was initially thought that Iraqi security forces would continue to thrust north towards Mosul after retaking Tikrit, but Abadi last week announced that Anbar was next.
The vast western province is largely under IS control, and a large operation there would be yet another new challenge for Iraq’s restructuring security forces.
“We need more support, especially because we have two main battles to kick Daesh out of Iraq,” Abadi said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
“They are the battles of Anbar and Nineveh,” he said, referring to the northern province, of which Mosul is the capital.
Devastating discovery … An Iraqi man cries over body-bags containing the remains of people slain by Islamic State jihadists at the Speicher camp in the Iraqi city of Tikrit. Picture: AFP / Ahmad Al-Rubaye Source: AFP
IS led an offensive last June that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad, but Iraqi security forces and allied paramilitaries have succeeded in regaining significant ground.
The Pentagon said on Monday that Islamic State militants have lost control of up to 16,800 sq kilometres in Iraq but have gained ground in Syria since last August.
Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the front lines of the territory held by the Islamic State group have been pushed farther south and west in Iraq. But the militants still control a wide swath of land stretching from west and south of Sinjar down through Mosul and across Bayji, including the oil refinery there, which is still contested.
A new map released by the Pentagon shows that US and coalition forces regained key territory near Tikrit, Sinjar Mountain and Mosul Dam.
Grim search … An Iraqi soldier marches at the site of a mass grave containing the remains of people believed to have been slain by Islamic State jihadists at the Speicher camp in the city of Tikrit. Picture: AFP / Ahmad Al-Rubaye Source: AFP
US administration officials have said that coalition air strikes and the ground campaign being waged by Iraqi forces have led to the gains, particularly lately around Tikrit. But Warren said it is too early to say whether the tide of battle has turned.
The air strikes have not had the same success in Syria, where the Islamic State militants have largely held onto a broad area across the north and east. Warren said that although Islamic State militants were driven out of Kobani, in northern Syria, they have maintained their influence across the country and gained some ground around Homs and Damascus.
Religion and Science: 6 Visions of Earth’s Core
Credit: Creative Commons | Cai Tjeenk WillinkOne can imagine a day when humans will venture freely to our neighboring planets, and use powerful telescopes to learn about nearby stars. Someday, we will surely explore every inch of the ocean’s depths , as well as all the most impenetrable forests. But we’ll probably never journey to the center of the Earth. The hardiest drills penetrate only 7 miles (12 km) deep that’s just 0.2 percent of Earth’s radius before encountering such high heat that they melt. In all likelihood, the extreme temperature and pressure of our planet’s interior place it permanently out of reach.
Perhaps partly for this reason, the inside of the Earth has always fascinated us. It plays a central role in many traditional religions and cosmologies. More recently, science has begun to probe it indirectly, gradually bettering our understanding of its nature. Here is a chronological look at humanity’s ever-evolving understanding of the fiery world beneath our feet.
Credit: BBCKei Hirose, a Japanese geologist, recently conducted an experiment in which he replicated the conditions at the center of the Earth on an extremely small scale in the lab. Using a diamond-tipped vise, a clamp-like tool, he heated up a piece of iron-nickel alloy to 4,500 degrees-C and 3 million times atmospheric pressure. Based on what happened to the sample under these core-like conditions, he deduced that the crystals in the center of the Earth may each measure 6 miles (10 km) tall, and point between the poles. (On the atomic scale, the atoms in each crystal are still stacked as described in the previous slide. Only on a much larger scale do the crystals appear jagged and pointy.) Hirose describes the core as a “crystal forest.”
[Amazing Video: Planet Made of Diamonds ]
Credit: Creative Commons | Greg A L
Evidence suggests that the inner core is no homogeneous chunk. Scientists have noticed that seismic waves pass through the core faster when traveling from one pole to the other than they do traveling crosswise, from one point on the equator to the opposite point. This means the inner core is “anisotropic” structured differently in one direction than another. Most experts believe this must be because it is composed of anisotropic crystals that are aligned with the Earth’s magnetic poles .
Geophysicist Ronald Cohen of the Carnegie Institute in Washington has found that the time difference between waves penetrated the inner core horizontally and vertically match what would be expected if the iron and nickel atoms in the core were arranged in a mix of two types of crystals. Some iron-nickel crystals are likely arranged in a hexagonal close-packed (hcp) structure, and some in a face-centered cubic structure. In short, there are two types of crystals in the inner core; the atoms in each of them are stacked like the balls in the two pictures above.
According to Cohen, the crystals probably but up against each other in the very center of the core, where the pressure is highest, “like in a rock.” Farther out, “there may be some liquid between them.”
Credit: Maryland Geological SurveyThe rumblings of the Earth’s crust whisper the secrets of what lies beneath. When there’s an earthquake, the seismic waves it emits ricochet through the Earth, redirecting and reflecting off boundaries between the crust, mantle, outer core and inner core, and then get recorded on seismograms all over the world. Scientists retrace the waves’ steps to map out the Earth’s interior.
So what’s the lay of the land down there? In the very center, there’s a solid ball of iron and nickel. Though Earth’s center is believed to have a temperature of approximately 5,500 degrees Celsius (9,900 degrees Fahrenheit) about as hot as the surface of the Sun it also has an extremely high pressure , more than 3 million times that of the atmosphere at the planet’s surface. This pressure drives up the melting temperature of metals, so that they are solid despite the inner core’s high heat.
At about 760 miles (1,216 km) out from the center, the pressure dips low enough to allow the iron and nickel to melt. According to David Stevenson, a geologist at Caltech and a leading expert on the Earth’s core, this outer liquid layer makes up about 95 percent of the core’s total volume.
The mantle begins about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) out from the center. This molten rock composes the thickest layer of the Earth, and constitutes about 84 percent of the planet’s total volume. The mantle is coated by a thin crust our home.
Core of gold
Credit: DreamstimeBernard Wood, a geologist now at the University of Oxford in the U.K., calculated that there are 1.6 quadrillion tons of gold in the Earth’s core, or enough to coat the planet’s surface in a 1.5-foot layer. He thinks there is also six times that amount of platinum another precious metal as well as nickel, niobium and other “iron-loving” elements down there. Wood formed this hypothesis after analyzing the metal content of meteorites that are similar to “planetesimals” small bodies that crashed together to form Earth at the dawn of the solar system. He found that these meteorites have much more gold, platinum and the other stuff distributed throughout them than does the surface of the Earth, and deduced that the iron in the Earth’s core must have drawn these elements inward during the planet’s formation.
The picture above exaggerates: Though 1.6 quadrillion tons is a huge quantity by Earth’s-surface-standards, gold atoms still make up just one millionth of the total number of atoms in the core. Meteorites, as well as the mass and density of Earth (deduced from how it perturbs the orbits of the moon and other planets), lead scientists to believe that the vast bulk of the core is iron and nickel.
[Why Did Gold Become the Best Element for Money? ]
Credit: Sky One Television
Many East Asian and Native American cultures did not picture the Earth’s interior as a hellish place. Instead, they imagined a giant turtle. Called “the world turtle,” it supported the Earth usually conceived of as flat , or dome-shaped, rather than spherical on its back. There are several variations to the myth: Hindus replaced the turtle with an elephant, while some historians, perhaps conflating the two descriptions, have described a cosmology where the world rests on the back of an elephant that stands on a turtle.
Why a turtle? As the anthropologist Frank Speck pointed out in a 1931 treatise on the world turtle myth of the Delaware Indians, not only is the creature’s back an appropriately curved shape, but the Delaware believed that turtles embody the traits of perseverance, longevity and steadfastness. What’s more, they thought that time and turtles alike continuously moved from east to west.
So what’s below the turtle? Most myths do not specify. In “A Brief History of Time” (Bantam Dell 1988), the physicist Stephen Hawking recounts a well-known anecdote in which a supporter of the world turtle cosmology is confronted with the question. She answers that the turtle stands on the back of another turtle, which stands on another, and that there are “turtles all the way down.”
Pit of hell
Perhaps the most widespread traditional view of the center of the Earth portrays it as a lake of fire where bad people spend eternity: Yes, hell. Connections to the afterlife aside, the picture of the underworld as, essentially, a fiery pit is somewhat accurate. And perhaps it isn’t so surprising that so many religions and cosmologies got it right: Volcanic eruptions occasionally provided ancient cultures with horrific glimpses of the hellfire below.
In fact, brimstone as in “fire and brimstone,” a frequent metaphor for hell found in the Christian Bible is a type of rock commonly found on the rims of volcanoes.
[How Hot Is Hell? ]
U.S. strategically hides Bush-era torture to avoid UN scrutiny
By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune News Analysis
Washington, D.C. 14 March (Asiantribune.com): source:
Afghan detainee Gul Rahman would never leave the CIA prison known as “The Salt Pit” alive. Interrogators left Rahman in his cell, reportedly “naked from the waste down,” after shackling him and dousing him with cold water. In the morning, they discovered that the Rahman, who had reportedly been “uncooperative” with his captors, had died of hypothermia.
Military medical examiners said Iraqi detainee Manadel al-Jamadi died of asphyxiation, a result of his being hung by his arms, and other mysterious injuries sustained during interrogation, such as his five broken ribs.
After his death, US Army Reservist Charles Graner Jr. was photographed grinning next to al-Jamadi’s frozen corpse. The Associated Press noted that the CIA official who oversaw Rahman’s treatment “was reprimanded” and “now works as a defense contractor.”
The Justice Department announced August 2012 that the investigation into Rahman and al-Jamadi’s deaths would be closed with no charges. This means that the Obama administration will be turning the page on the Bush years with almost no accountability for anyone linked to the legalization and implementation of Bush-era interrogation techniques.
The University of California, Davis in a study “Truth, Accountability, Reform and Reconciliation: The Road to Security and the Restoration of American Values.” early this year described the torture regimen carried by the United States in this manner:
“According to credible information, the practices and policies enacted since 9/11 have involved international alliances with criminal armed groups; human trafficking; civilian arrests without warrants; denial of the writ of habeas corpus; secret detention; life-threatening, open-air, holding pens; medical neglect; interference of interrogation on medical treatment; fatal, disabling, and disfiguring beatings; hanging by the wrists; threats of death or bodily harm; mauling by military dogs; torture by proxy (extraordinary rendition); controlled drowning (waterboarding); sensory deprivation; sensory assault; forced nudity; temperature and dietary manipulation; sleep deprivation; disorientation in space and time; positional torture (stress positions and prolonged standing); binding torture (tight shackling or cuffing); solitary confinement; indefinite detention; severe humiliation; sexual assaults; assaults with excreta; forced feeding; interference with religious practices; verbal abuse, and the exploitation of cultural idiosyncrasies and personal phobias.”
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (United Nations Convention against Torture) is an international human rights instrument, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
Article 1 of the Convention defines torture as:
“Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions”.
When the United States was forced to withdraw the draft resolution against Sri Lanka in September 2011 as a result of the strategic diplomatic maneuvers of the members of the Sri Lanka team at UNHRC in Geneva, the US Ambassador for Human Rights in Geneva threatened the then team leader Tamara Kunanayakam “We’ll get you next time!”.
Well, Sri Lanka is currently facing the U.S. diplomatic assault at UNHRC in Geneva advocating an ‘international mechanism’ to probe Sri Lanka’s alleged violation of IHL and IHRL while the United States itself has refused to investigate and account for its own human rights violations and war crimes during its ‘War on Global Terror’ completely ignoring the slogans ‘accountability’, ‘transparency’ it is using to bring Sri Lanka to the ‘Geneva Dock’ fulfilling one of the ‘agenda items’ of the separatist-pro Eelam elements within the Global Tamil Diaspora.
The Amnesty International in its 2008 report on America’s culpability to war crimes noted “There is not a single fix that will bring the USA’s actions on counterterrorism into compliance with international law. The violations in the “war on terror” have been many and varied, and the government has exploited a long-standing reluctance of the USA to commit itself fully to international law, including in relation to recognizing the full range of its international obligations with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The question of accountability and remedy for violations in the “war on terror” must therefore be part of a new commitment by the USA to international law.”
In its refusal to investigate the Bush-era torture practices, President Obama himself declaring that he prefers to look forward, not backward, the Obama administration announced June 30 (2011) that it would shut down 99 investigations into deaths of prisoners in US custody during the “war on terror,” leaving only two investigations with the potential to develop into criminal prosecutions.
What Attorney General Eric Holder announced on August 30 last year was the dismissal of the last two remaining torture-death investigations under the watch of the CIA.
And now a drama is being jointly enacted in the US Senate and within the CIA, with the concurrence of Obama’s White House, to conceal America’s blatant involvement in torture and inhuman and degrading punishment in violation of UN Charters.
The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating since December 2012 the interrogation practices during the Bush administration and has collected eye witness accounts, sensitive documents and closed-door testimonies as to how those interrogations of terrorism suspects since the 9/11 attacks were carried and whether those ‘enhanced interrogation’ practices were amount to torture.
The draft report of the Senate committee goes beyond 6000 pages, and it is classified. Under the US law it is the President who has the authority to de-classify documents.
The Chair of the Senate committee Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor on Tuesday 11 February to warn that the CIA’s continuing cover-up of its torture program provided stark and convincing evidence that the C.I.A. may have committed crimes to prevent the exposure of interrogations that she said were “far different and far more harsh” than anything the agency had described to Congress.
Ms. Feinstein delivered an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday in which she said the C.I.A. improperly searched the computers used by committee staff members who were investigating the interrogation program as recently as January.
On Tuesday, the C.I.A. director, John Brennan, denied hacking into the committee’s computers. But Ms. Feinstein said that in January, Mr. Brennan acknowledged that the agency had conducted a “search” of the computers.
The question here is: Does the United States – the Congress, the CIA and Obama White House – prepared to reveal the interrogation practices, enhanced interrogation (torture), its terrorist suspect rendition program sending terrorist suspects to other countries who were noted for their brutality for interrogation, what steps Obama Justice Department has so far taken to bring those who were responsible for those ‘utter inhuman deeds’ and be transparent and accountable.
Who is this CIA Director John Brennan? He was the person, under President Bush and Vice President Dick Chaney under whose command the ‘enhanced interrogation’ program was in operation to question terrorist suspects, now at the center of the current ‘episode’ with the US Senate Intelligence Committee. He was the person who was Bush administration’s main person in charge of the interrogation, rendition and the use of waterboarding techniques on terrorism suspect in violation of UN Charters.
What is ‘Waterboarding’?
Also called water torture, simulated drowning, interrupted drowning, and controlled drowning, method of torture in which water is poured into the nose and mouth of a victim who lies on his back on an inclined platform, with his feet above his head. As the victim’s sinus cavities and mouth fill with water, his gag reflex causes him to expel air from his lungs, leaving him unable to exhale and unable to inhale without aspirating water.
Although water usually enters the lungs, it does not immediately fill them, owing to their elevated position with respect to the head and neck. In this way the victim can be made to drown for short periods without suffering asphyxiation. The victim’s mouth and nose are often covered with a cloth, which allows water to enter but prevents it from being expelled; alternatively, his mouth may be covered with cellophane or held shut for this purpose. The torture is eventually halted and the victim put in an upright position to allow him to cough and vomit (water usually enters the esophagus and stomach) or to revive him if he has become unconscious, after which the torture may be resumed. Waterboarding produces extreme physical suffering and an uncontrollable feeling of panic and terror, usually within seconds.
Officially, the United States has acknowledged the use of this method since Obama took office.
The US Senate undertaking an investigation, the accusations leveled against John Brennan, the CIA spying on senate investigators and Senator Feinstein’s outburst last Tuesday are all ‘side shows’ to prevent the disclosure of the Bush-era torture and evade scrutiny of the United Nations and its Geneva arm which is scrutinizing Sri Lanka at this hour.
Shunning accountability and transparency since the advent of the Obama administration as an attempt to suppress the brutality of enhanced interrogation which is widely known as torture, prisoner rendition, and other violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) has now become an official policy.
Investigations of the architects of the Bush-era program had been all but ruled out in 2009, when President Barack Obama told ABC News that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” One commentator put it this way: You can torture a detainee in your custody to death and get away with it. You just can’t talk about it.
Courtesy : Asian Tribune
No room for extremism to surface again – President
While identifying unity among communities and religious harmony as vital factors in the country’s progress, President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday stressed that divisions among these groups will only strengthen various hostile forces seeking to derail the Nation’s development and tarnish its image.
The President was speaking at the opening of the renovated Jumma Mosque building at Seenawatte, Aluthgama, last morning.
Addressing a large gathering at the Mosque premises, the President said that when all people rise in unity sans differences, the forces hostile to the country will be weakened and development and peace further strengthened.
The President noted that his government had always acted to ensure religious co-existence with firm determination and a clear commitment to national unity.
However, the President noted that despite these efforts, there were some hostile forces who were trying to create the impression that there was religious tensions and violence in the country through some foreign media and news websites.
He said there were also elements who were trying to create unrest within the country at times using false propaganda to create a wrong impression in the minds of the people.
The President observed that even during the conflict period, his government had not allowed any damage to occur to religious places and added that now with peace firmly established, he will ensure that such incidents will not happen at any cost.
He noted that from within the hallowed premises of the Mosque, he hoped that once the motives about those elements making false and malicious accusations against the country is revealed, everything will be put to rest once and for all.
President Rajapaksa on the same note went on to say that his government has ensured that the country cannot be divided on ethnic or religious grounds.
He stressed that there should be no room for racism and extremism to surface again.
“After a long drawn conflict, Sri Lanka today is a nation where all communities can live together, enjoying their rights equally. Our government has ensured that all people get equal opportunities and facilities irrespective of where they live.
In all matters the government strives to achieve equity” he added.
Speaking about the Jumma Mosque, the President said he considered it as an honour to declare open the renovated Mosque which is 1,200 years old and considered the second Mosque to be established in Sri Lanka.
The President recalled that he also had happened to open a new building for a Mosque in Nuwara Eliya last year, considered as the first such religious facility to be opened by a Head of State in Sri Lanka.
He also paid tribute to Muslim leaders of the past and said they had always thought about the country first and this was demonstrated on many occasions.
He said similarly it was the responsibility of all to think about the country first irrespective of differences.
Courtesy : President Media Unit
“Yes We Scan” – US and UK in shameless spying on guests of State
It was a good take off from “Yes We Can” from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, by the headline in a German publication to mark Barack Obama’s visit to Germany this week. The complete text was – “Yes We Scan” – with an image of Obama with earphones on listening into the sub-text that read: “United we can progress towards a perfectly monitored society”. The lampooning and lambasting of the Barack Obama and David Cameron duo caught in the coils of spying on citizens and foreign guests could not be missed anywhere on the Internet, although the mainstream Western media was playing down the scandals.
It is interesting to know why rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International et al that are so loud when it comes to issues of transparency and accountability, as well as privacy and human rights in this part of the world, have played a very low key in all of this.
Is it possible that they are all busy trying to hunt for unsubstantiated material on inhospitable diplomacy of the UK, for a Channel 4 on the “Fire that Is” in Western disrespect for hospitality and the courtesies of diplomacy?
There is no end to the countries of the West, especially the UK and USA, preaching to the world about human rights, transparency and accountability. They give the impression of being paragons of virtue on matters of international relations, projecting their systems of governance as what should be emulated by all others who can claim to be democratic or share the values of the West.
We see today an outrageous display of the lack of basic hospitality to one’s own invitees to these countries, lacking in the courtesy and decorum of good diplomatic relations. After the shocking exposure of the extent of cyber snooping done by the United States revealed in the past two weeks, we now have the even worse exposure of the UK – just as David Cameron began receiving the leaders of the G8 nations for their summit, hosted by the UK in Northern Ireland.
It is now revealed without any contradiction, or even an attempt at explanation (which would be futile), that the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intercepted and spied on communications of foreign participants at the G20 Summits held in the UK in 2009.
This shameless violation of the privacy of Heads of State, ministers and foreign delegates to an international conference of the highest ranking held in the UK, is a shocking revelation of the contemptible attitude of politicians and administrators in the “Mother of Parliaments”, the ready torch bearers for human rights, transparency, accountability, privacy and good diplomacy.
All such values and principles have been wholly negated by this shameless act of spying on one’s own guests, passing on some of the information obtained to the US – the ally with the closest relationship with the UK, causing much more than ripples of concern in the world.
The whole exercise in the horrific invasion of privacy has upended the civilized values that the West claims to stand for, and calls for a serious look at the value systems that drive the West today, in the holier than though attitudes towards Islamic and other political forms found in the world. It is as bad as the shock of drones that kill civilians in the hunt for terrorists, and certainly worse than how the US has been eavesdropping and collecting information from the telephone, radio and Internet communications of all of its citizens, and those of other countries too, in a so-called operation to protect the US from terrorist attacks.
Not surprisingly, Russia, Turkey and South Africa have openly expressed outrage over revelations that both Britain and the United States spied on foreign delegates at the G20 meetings in London in 2009.
“Scandalous” – Turkey
The foreign ministry in Ankara said it was unacceptable that the British government had intercepted phone calls and monitored the computers of Turkey’s finance minister as well as up to 15 others from his visiting delegation. If confirmed, the eavesdropping operation on a NATO ally was “scandalous”, it said.
The ministry summoned the UK’s ambassador to Ankara to hear Turkey’s furious reaction in person.
A spokesman at the foreign ministry read out an official statement saying: “The allegations in the Guardian are very worrying … If these allegations are true, this is going to be scandalous for the UK. At a time when international co-operation depends on mutual trust, respect and transparency, such behaviour by an allied country is unacceptable.”
The Guardian revealed that the UK’s GCHQ targeted Mehmet Simsek, the Turkish finance minister and a former Merrill banker, during a G20 economics meeting hosted in London in September 2009. It also considered monitoring the communications of 15 named members of his staff and of Turkey’s central bank. The goal was to collect information about the Turkish position on the reform of the global financial infrastructure in the wake of the world banking crisis.
“Deepened mistrust” – Moscow
In Moscow Russian officials said the Guardian report that US spies had intercepted top-secret communications of (President) Dmitry Medvedev at a G20 summit in London in April 2009 would further harm the struggling US-Russia relationship and cast a shadow over the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, earlier this week.
Details of the spying, set out in a briefing prepared by the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed by the Guardian late on Sunday, show that US spies based in Britain spied on Medvedev, then the Russian president and now prime minister.
Senior Russian officials said the revelations had deepened mistrust between the US and Russia, whose relations have already sunk to a post-cold-war low following a brief and largely unsuccessful “reset” during Medvedev’s four-year reign in the Kremlin.
Igor Morozov, a senator in Russia’s Federation Council, the upper house of Parliament, suggested that the Obama administration’s attempts to improve relations were clearly insincere: “2009 was the year the Russian-American ‘reset’ was announced. At the same time US special services were listening to Dmitry Medvedev’s phone calls.”
He added: “In this situation, how can we trust today’s announcements by Barack Obama that he wants a new ‘reset’? Won’t the US special services now start spying on Vladimir Putin, rather than correcting their actions?” he told RIA-Novosti, a state-owned news agency. “This isn’t just an act of inhospitality, but a fact that can seriously complicate international relations,” he said. “Big doubts about Obama’s sincerity appear.”
The Guardian reports that South African computers were also singled out for special attention, in this ugly swoop in visiting delegates, prompted Pretoria to warn against the abuse of privacy and “basic human rights”. “We have solid, strong and cordial relations with the United Kingdom and would call on their government to investigate this matter fully with a view to take strong and visible action against any perpetrators,” the South African foreign ministry said.
The steps the GCHQ took to spy on the guests of the UK, including its fellow members in the European Union and NATO, were bizarre. They go far beyond the stuff of whimsical espionage writers. It is now revealed that delegates to the G20s were allegedly tricked into using specially prepared Internet cafes which allowed British spies to intercept and monitor email messages and phone calls through BlackBerry devices. GCHQ was also able to track when delegates were contacting each other and targeted certain officials of their choice, and visiting ministers.
The fact that this dismal exercise in spying “diplomacy” took place during the previous Labour government, under Prime Minister Gordon Brown, does not reduce the opprobrium this has brought to the UK.
Prime Minister David Cameron has little choice but to state, as he does, that he would not comment on intelligence matters, but the revelations are undoubtedly most embarrassing as he hosts the G8 Summit, with this adding to the difficulties in winning over President Vladimir Putin to the Obama-led Western line of arming the Syrian rebels – that admittedly include those who are closely linked to al-Qaeda – the focus in the “War on Terror” by President Obama and most other Western states.
The Western media were also caught up in these exposures, with little choice but to report what was being revealed, mainly by the Guardian, or be left out of the picture.
The Guardian gave more to readers with an Internet interview with whistleblower Snowden, while the South China Morning Post also gave him an opportunity to make his case for the scathing revelations for which he has been named a traitor by Dick Cheney. Snowden claims it an honour to be so named by such a manipulator of the truth to US citizens.
Yet, it did not take long for the key names in Western media such as BBC, CNN, Fox and MSNBC to try and subdue the impact of all this by using commentators and analysts to say what a normal and necessary practice surveillance of communications is, and trying to play down the aspect of damaged good relations and the very scandalous nature of the absence of standards of civilized hospitality that all of this revealed.
Both Obama and David Cameron were trying hard to maintain the best face amidst the huge embarrassments caused by these revelations of contemptible spying, which was not made any easy by the sudden discovery by Obama that President Assad of Syria had crossed the “red line” of the West’s own making, through alleged proof of the use of chemical weapons. Once again the Western media made themselves readily available to spread the message of Assad crossing the “red line” and to justify arming the Syrian rebels, including admitted an avowed al-Qaeda groups.
It did not need much effort to recall how close this call of “poison gas” was to the open lying to the entire world by then US President George W Bush and UK Premier Tony Blair about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, based on wholly flawed intelligence reports, to justify the invasion and regime change in Iraq, a decade ago. The Syrian issue is not one that has an easy solution, but it is clear that the West has no solution to offer to the Syrian people, trapped in a bloody power struggle to define the new realities of the Middle East.
Although there may be disagreements with the continued Russian support for Damascus, (not forgetting that Syria is on its border), President Putin thought it necessary to call Obama’s new intelligence about poison gas as not convincing. He made a stronger statement in a the media conference with David Cameron, who was pressing for arms to the Syrian rebels, in asking whether the West wanted to arm those who pulled out and ate with relish the innards of those killed in battle. It was a reference to the viral image of Syrian rebels tearing out the heart of a dead Syrian soldier and biting into it.
Learn from us
All of this calls for a good evaluation of Western policy vis-a-vis terrorism and the much touted claims to be defenders of human rights, transparency, accountability and diplomacy. This reminds us of how the same countries, especially the UK, although having banned the LTTE as a terrorist organization, was trying hard to pressure Sri Lanka for an end to the operations to defeat in 2008/09, knowing very well the nature of the LTTE and its total commitment to terror. It was Gordon Brown’s Foreign Secretary, David Miliband who as among the strongest and loudest in making these demands, that are still echoed by those who draw a thick veil over LTTE terror.
The past two weeks have shown the difficulty in having good relations with honesty and a unity of civilized purpose with governments that have no regard for the decencies of civilized life. Those who lack the courtesies of diplomacy cannot be expected to do much to genuinely defend the cause of transparency and accountability. In fact they have now been exposed for their total lack of transparency and accountability – the loudest charges against Sri Lanka – in both national interstate matters. It seems time for them to learn the practice of good hospitality from the East. Sri Lanka certainly has much to teach both Barack Obama and David Cameron about friendship and hospitality.
Courtesy : President Media Unit
From Sheer Hatred To Stark Reality
The true story of two former LTTE militants
Many young Tamil girls and boys having grown up with the war that plagued the country for over three decades have been idolising the terrorist outfit – the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Young Jayawardhani was no different, and her mind was poisoned with hatred propagated by the terrorists since it was so easy for the LTTE because she was an orphan at the Sencholai home for orphans.
ayawardhani never felt the warmth of a loving mother’s hug and tenderness. Countless times she dreamed of that perfect life with a family, and could only wonder what life would have been like, had she not lost her parents. All she wanted was to live a life with people who cared about her.
All she ever wanted was to be free and happy. But life it seems never treated her fairly. The only family that Jayawardhani had ever known was the other orphans at the Sencholai Orphanage, and the LTTE. She received her education at the orphanage, which she is very grateful for.
She felt grateful to the LTTE for giving her a place to stay and educating her. Jayawardhani grew up to believe that the Sri Lankan army and the Sinhala people were cruel and unreliable. Her mind was poisoned with the notion that they were out to destroy the Tamils. The hatred persuaded her to later join the terrorist outfit and start a misguided journey to save the Tamil people. “The only family I knew was the other orphans at the home and the LTTErs were the heroes fighting to liberate my people. The only mother I knew was the lady who took care of us at the orphanage,” she reminisced.
Having joined the LTTE she had fiercely fought against the government forces and did so with great pride and dedication. “I felt that I was fighting for a cause. I had never known anyone else in my life other than the children at the orphanage and later my fellow cadres. We were made to believe that the government forces, specially the army were brutal killers simply out to kill us.” For many other cadres, fighting for the LTTE was similar to Jayawardhani’s, as they too were brainwashed and misguided by the LTTE. They too have a story to tell of how the former ‘killing machines’ of the LTTE turned innocent youth into killers.
She had later met a young man SidambaranathanNaganathan senior to her in the terrorist organisation and the two of them fell in love. However their love affair was not looked upon favourably by the LTTE. “The terrorist leaders were of the opinion that if these cadres were to marry and raise families the organisation would not have the required manpower to battle. For Jayawadhani and Naganathan it was a long struggle that they finally were able to overcome. “However it was not a piece of cake and we had to each conduct our assigned missions successfully in order to have permission to enter wedlock. However we did what we had to do and finally got married and settled down in Murusumudai.” They had their share of trials and tribulations, but they had somehow kept their marriage together.
Realising LTTE atrocities
As time went by, they had two children and Jayawardhani conceived their third son. Just like many others who had initially believed in the terrorists, her husband and she gradually saw the LTTE atrocities.
“I have seen the way they punished our fellow fighters if they dared to question the motives or actions of the terrorist leaders. I have also on several occasions seen them killing the very cadres who fought for their cause, but were unfortunate to have been left disabled having sustained injuries in battle. Even during the last stages of the war LTTE leaders destroyed many of their own cadres who were considered a burden on them,” Naganathan recalled.
These innocent people were caught up in a struggle that they eventually realised not for the liberation of the Tamil people, but for power. Many innocent civilians had been caught up amid an escalating war between the security forces and the LTTE. They had lost everything and their lives have been shattered. They finally started to realise that the LTTE had no good intentions and that the Tamil people were just pawns in the whole scheme that was to gain power for LTTE leaders.
During the latter stages of the war, the government troops had ordered the people in the LTTE controlled areas to go toward the government troops, said Jayawardhani. “Yet the LTTE cadres did not allow them to cross and they kept shooting at those who tried to cross over to the army controlled areas. The ones crossing the earth bund, which held thousands, and separated them from the real world, had the courage to do so sensing that real freedom was not with the terrorists as they had been made to believe, but beyond the earth bund. Those who crossed over were urging the others to follow via loudspeakers, and many of the people were crossing over, and denying the LTTE the opportunity of holding them as a human shield to prevent being attacked by the government troops,” she said.
The government did whatever it took to rescue those being held as a human shield by the LTTE.
The rebels on the other hand were enticing the government forces to commit mayhem on the civilians in the No Fire Zone to attract them the international attention and sympathy.
Almost 300,000 civilians were held under LTTE custody, which offered them protection from heavy Army gunfire or air raids, but allowed them the use of heavy weapons against government forces under the cover of the ‘human shield’.
By this time Jayawardhani had given birth to her third son and she and her husband had decided to take their two older children and seven days old son and cross over to the government troops and surrender.
Jayawardhani was not the only one who experienced the LTTE’s brutality. She had been a freedom fighter for them for many years; someone who had believed so passionately in their cause. However, once she felt the fragrance of real freedom beyond the earth bund, she wanted to go for it; but the LTTE who were supposed to be fighting for the freedom of Tamils were the very ones obstructing their freedom.
“My husband escorted me and my seven days old infant first and took us toward the earth bund to help me get across while he went back to get our other children. However, the LTTE fired at us and the last thing I knew was I felt something hitting my face,” she said. Naganathan says that the instant he saw his wife fall he ran toward her, but saw her motionless body in a pool of blood. “I thought that my wife was dead along with our baby. Yet when I turned to leave, I heard the infant make a sound and I picked it up and ran toward the army. The army soldiers took the injured baby from my arms and put into a helicopter and I did not know where they took the infant at the time,” he recalled agonisingly.
Somehow for Jayawardhani’s luck the army had found her. Having found that she was still alive the army had transported her onboard a helicopter to Colombo. “I regained consciousness only after six months where the doctors had performed several surgeries on my face, as the blast had shattered part of it. I had lost one eye and my nose including several bones was shattered. I have no nose but the doctors have transplanted a piece of flesh from my thigh to construct my face. When I look at my face today in the mirror I am terrified at what I see, yet it is a stark reminder of what the very ones I trusted and believed in had done to me. I now realise that I was just a number, a part of the fighting machine, nothing more to the LTTE.”
However Jayawardhani now views the army and the Sinhala people as her rescuers and her family. “Neither the army nor the government has valid reasons to save my life. Yet they struggled for six months to give me life and resurrect me from the dead. Contrary to the many allegations directed toward the army accusing them of theft and massacre, I am a good example of their kindness and love. I had lost my ring finger during the battle and you would not believe that the army soldiers who had found me had preserved my wedding ring on my lost finger and returned it to me after I regained consciousness,” she said with immense gratitude toward her rescuers.
Jayawardhani’s infant was taken to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital where the child was cared for during the time she was unconscious. “After I regained consciousness I told the hospital authorities that I had a seven-day-old infant born at the time of the attack. I had no idea if my son was alive or dead. Their records however indicated that the army had airlifted an infant to Colombo and that a motherless infant was receiving treatment at the children’s hospital. After a DNA test, it was confirmed that the infant was mine and my little son was handed back to me.
I was moved beyond words at the sheer efforts taken by the Sinhala people to save me and my son, even today I cannot understand their generosity and kindness toward someone like me who had been intently out to destroy them. The magnitude of their kindness is far beyond my comprehension, as it had been a Sinhala doctor attached to the children’s hospital, who also had a child at the time, breast fed my son too to keep him alive. How do I ever repay her, or the army for what has been done for me? No amount of words will ever be enough to express my gratitude toward them,” she said.
The LTTE – the hypocrites
Jayawardhani says that she has nothing but hatred for most of the ex-LTTE leaders enjoying freedom today. “These are hypocrites who abandoned us and left us to die for carving their own way out,” she added.
Today Jayawardhani and Naganathan live with their two children in Vadukkodai in Koddaikadu Jaffna, enjoying the freedom. Many other ex-LTTE cadres just like Jayawardhani and Naganathan are not forced today to do anything but live a life of peace. They are all now slowly rebuilding their shattered lives. Certain elements of the Tamil Diaspora whose children have all this time enjoying the comfort in foreign countries are now voicing their concerns for the Tamil people. Is it that they are doing so for their people or in fact for protecting their own interests to hold onto the privileges offered to them by these countries and prevent them from being sent back? They claim to be fighting for a separate land for the Tamil people, yet would any of them now domiciled in foreign countries ever give up their comforts and return to this country and live in this so called separate state that they say they want? No.
It is the people who have been caught up in the war that suffered the most. None of them want to go through that ever again. Never.
Channel 4 tampering with Tamil civilian statements – Ambassador Amza
Expose of distortion in translation
Channel-4 has made serious mistakes by misinterpreting what the witnesses have said in Tamil, to suit the Channel-4 agenda, Head of Mission of Sri Lanka to the EU, Ambassador P.M. Amza said.
During his intervention at the end of a panel discussion that followed the screening of the film “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, held at the premises of the European Parliament on May 14 which was jointly organized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group, Ambassador Amza stated that the pointed that in the “Killing Fields” documentary, the civilians who spoke in Tamil at no stage stated that the attacks were carried out specifically by the Sri Lankan Army, rather they always mentioned that “they attacked”, leaving it ambiguous.
Ambassador Amza further elaborated that when a question was posed in English to an unidentified victim regarding an alleged attack on a hospital by asking “do you think this was an accident?”, the answer from the victim in Tamil was, “Athavathu aspaththirikku aim panniththan adichchiruppinam” which literally means “they may have aimed and attacked the hospital”. The Ambassador contended the Channel-4 of translating it as “the hospital was targeted”, giving implication to the viewers that it was done by the Sri Lanka Army. In this context, the Ambassador questioned the Director/Producer, Callum Macrae who was present as one of the Panellists, on what basis he gave an interpretation to what the witness referred to as “they”, to indicate that it was the Sri Lanka Army.
Pointing out to a similar mistake in the subsequent Channel-4 Documentary, “Sri Lanka Killing Fields: War Crime Unpunished”, during which an unidentified witness makes a statement in Tamil saying “Enkalidamirunthu 150 meeter irukkum 15 perukku melai kayakkarnkal ippadi bankarukkulliruntha ellorayum veliyil iluththu iluthu pottu suttukkondu waran” which provides literal translation as “the distance may be about 150 meters from us. More than 15 injured civilians were inside the bunker when they pulled them out one by one and fired”. The Channel-4 took the liberty of translating it to mean “as I got up from the bunker, about 150 meters away from where I saw a group of Army soldiers pulling out over 15 civilians staying in a bunker and spraying bullets on them at close range”. The Ambassador emphasized that at no stage, the witness stated that it was Sri Lankan Army that was pulling the civilians out from the bunkers and killing them. The Ambassador also pointed out that anyone with a sound knowledge of the Tamil language would identify them as serious mistakes and misinterpretations and manipulations done to suit the Channel-4 agenda. As the civilians’ statements constitute important evidence in any conflict, tampering them to give a completely false view, is a matter of serious concern, he said.
The Ambassador also refuted allegations on the killing of a 12 year old boy identified as the son of the LTTE leader. The Ambassador, while casting doubts on Channel-4 making sweeping conclusions based on few pictures depicting a man clad in a uniform similar to Sri Lanka Army personnel, a clean and neat bunker, a man in slippers, and an ‘expert opinion’ based on the pictures given to him that the boy was captured by the Army who then fed him a snack then killed him at point blank range, questioned as to why the ‘expert opinion’ disregarded the possibility of him being killed by his own bodyguards, to avoid being captured by the Sri Lankan Armed forces.
The Ambassador reminded that the LTTE was not an ordinary group of terrorists, but was one in which all its cadres mandatorily carried cyanide capsules to kill themselves if captured by the Army. It was also a ruthless terrorist group which never hesitated to use even disabled and pregnant women as suicide bombers in order to achieve its objectives.
Referring to a similar allegation where just by showing a 20 second footage of a group of females suspected as LTTE cadres, been taken away in a tractor, and giving an interpretation that their destiny was not know thereafter, he used the opportunity to remind the gathering about the comprehensive efforts taken by the Government in rehabilitating over 12,000 former LTTE cadres including 594 child soldiers after the end of the conflict, who have now been successfully integrated into the society and are leading peaceful and dignified lives.
Ambassador Amza stated that irrespective of Sri Lanka’s categorical rejection of the Channel-4 footage and its authenticity, Sri Lanka nevertheless, is in the process of investigating the allegations. In this context, he reiterated Sri Lanka’s request to Channel-4 to provide original materials available with them to help thei nvestigation process rather than pleading for Pounds through projects such as the ‘Kick-starter’, in order to go on a globe-trotting venture with the film.
The Ambassador added that, as a native Tamil speaker, he could provide ample evidence to prove that Channe-4 indeed had a sinister motive to discredit Sri Lanka with the connivance of the pro-LTTE diaspora organizations, and further alluded that it was ironical to see how one time arden supporters of the LTTE and its killing spree through funding and other propaganda activities are now projecting themselves as independent human rights activists, having been oblivious to the countless human rights violations carried out by the LTTE.
Intervention by the Ambassador P.M. Amza, Head of Mission to the European Union, at the Screening of the “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” at the Premises of the European Parliament on 14 May 2013
1. The Government of Sri Lanka strongly protests the use of the premises of the European Parliament for screening of this film today. My presence here is to reject the contents of this film and to make a brief statement. I would like to stress that my presence is in no way meant to give credence to either the event or the documentary.
2. I am a native Tamil Speaker. I personally have seen to my own eyes how the conflict began, how the innocent people from South to North and from West to East in Sri Lanka suffered during the last 30 years. I also witnessed how the LTTE led Diaspora manipulated matters, in this part of the world taking advantage of some of the generous national policies. Hence, I can speak with confidence and authority on what is happening in my country, especially to those who make empty slogans while having not done anything for the Tamils in the country. Much of what is shown are part of a sinister effort to make Government of Sri Lanka look guilty. For that, the truth has been ignored or suppressed.
3. Sri Lanka Armed Forces have never targeted its own civilians deliberately as alleged. The fact that over 290,000 civilians fled the LTTE towards the Army during the last stage of fighting is a clear testimony to this. Even the critics of Sri Lanka acknowledge this fact and appreciate the efforts of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces to rescue the civilians from the clutches of the LTTE which used them as human shields. In his Hard Talk interview, on 10 April 2013, Sir John Holms, the Former United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs & Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that the basic problem to the casualties is that the LTTE was not releasing the civilians.
4. This disputed series of Channel -4 films contain materials which are discredited, uncorroborated and unsubstantiated. It comes out as a routine pattern, aiming at intergovernmental fora and events. However, the material is largely rehashed and recycled to suite to the story. The Channel-4 Documentaries often talked about the shelling of civilians targets. In the “Killing Fields” Documentary the Channel-4 had shown the LTTE carrying mortars and using artilleries. Sir John Holms during his Hard Talk interview also confirmed that the LTTE were firing shells. In the “Killing Fields” documentary, the civilians at no stage stated that the attacks were carried out specifically by the Sri Lankan Army, rather they always mentioned “they attacked”. When a question was posed in English, to an unidentified victim, regarding an alleged attack on a hospital asking “Do you think this was an accident?”, The answer come from the “victim” in Tamil was “Athavathu aspaththirikku aim panniththan adichchiruppinam” which literally mean, “they might have attacked aiming the hospital only”. The Channel-4 however translated it as “the hospital was targeted” giving implication to the viewers that it was done by the Sri Lanka Army. In this context, I recall my question to the Director/Producer of the film, which I raised in London in June 2011, during a live debate that was broadcasted by BBC Asia Network in London, as I am yet to hear his reply. On what basis did you interpret that the “witness” referred to the “Sri Lanka Army” when he said “they”? The Channel-4 did the same mistake once again. In its subsequent documentary, “Sri Lanka Killing Fields : War Crime Unpunished” the Channel-4 repeated this mistake. At the 28th minute of the programme the Channel-4 telecasted statement of an unidentified witness. He said in Tamil ” “Enkalidamirunthu 150 meeter irukkum 15 perukku melai kayakkarnkal ippadi bankarukkulliruntha ellorayum veliyil iluththu iluthu pottu suttukkondu waran”. The literal meaning of this “the distance may be about 150 meters far from us. More than 15 injured civilians were inside the bunker when they pulled them one by one and were firing”. The Channel-4 had taken the liberty to translate it as “As I got up from the bunker, about 150 meters away from where I was, I saw a group of Army soldiers pulling out over 15 civilians staying in a bunker and spraying bullets on them at close range. Here again one would notice the witness at no stage said that it was the Sri Lankan Army that was pulling out the civilians from the bunkers and killing them. Those who understand Tamil would know these are serious mistakes on the part of the Channel-4. A misinterpretations and manipulations done to suit its agenda. As the civilians’ statements constitute important evidence in any conflict, tampering with them in my belief is a serious matter.
5. Take the credentials of the main actress in the Channel-4 Documentaries – Damilvani. Who is she? How reliable is what she claims? A person with three different aliases in different locations, namely, Damilvany Kumar, Vany Kumar, Damilvany Gananakumar. She was indeed from the Tamil Youth Organization (TYO) of the LTTE and brought to Sri Lanka by Castro, former Head of the LTTE Foreign Division. What she uttered about direct infusion of blood, amputation of legs without anaesthesia, are all exaggerated stories that a genuine bio-medical student would think twice. The doctor, who appears in the Channel-4’s latest releases along with Damilvany, lately stated that they made comments under pressure from LTTE regarding the humanitarian situation in the un-cleared areas during the last stages of the humanitarian operation and also contended the baseless allegations of Vany Kumar on alleged amputations without anaesthesia and re-administering blood wasted from dead and wounded etc.
6. It is a known fact that the demonstration by civilians outside the UN Office shown in the film was orchestrated by the LTTE. Further, there were several humanitarian agencies including ICRC and the local staff of UN that remained till the last stretch of the conflict. One could not rule out the possibility that the LTTE would harm the international workers and put the blame on the GoSL, had they stayed.
7. Many of the allegations in the films are based on similar assertions. The most hyped up event in the latest episode is the killing of a 12 year old boy identified as the son of the LTTE leader. The video shows several pictures depicting a man clad in a uniform similar to the SL Army, a clean and neat bunker, a man in slippers, and an “expert opinion” based on the pictures given to him stating that he has examined the pictures and that it was a close range shoot. These un connected material allows the producer to make a sweeping conclusion that the boy was captured by the Army, who fed him with a snack, then killed him at point blank. Why has he disregard the following possibilities?,
That he was killed by his own bodyguards. Remember we are talking about no ordinary group of terrorists, but those who wore cyanide capsules to kill themselves if captured by the Army, those who even used disabled women as suicide bombers. There were even suicide attacks when the stream of tens of thousands of people were moving into government areas at the end of the final battle. As history has proved many times, what excludes the perception that the battle hardened carders cannot shoot the son of the leader rather than letting him to be captured by the enemy?.
The “expert” has only examined the pictures given to him and not the real body, so, how can one confirm without an iota of doubt that the bullets came from a gun used by the Military and not the LTTE?
Had the Army wanted to deliberately kill a 12 year old boy, why did the Government rehabilitate 594 child soldiers who surrendered and the UN Security Council came to the decision that Sri Lanka should be removed from the Annex II to the Resolution 1612, as it has cooperated with the UN on the aspects of implementing the 1612 Resolution on Children and Armed Conflict.
8. Casting doubt does not mean the truth is being told. Showing a visual of a group of girls suspected to be Tamil Tigers loaded to trailers, taken away, the narrator says “we only have these 20 second footage. No idea what happen to them”? If one is to claim that casting doubt is professional journalism, we only challenge them to tell the world how and why, over 12,000 Ex-LTTE cadres, including core LTTE leaders and their families have been saved, cared for and rehabilitated by the Government?
9. It is a similar sweeping conclusion that the military presence in North is correlated to the number of rapes reported. Had there been any perpetrators, as done in the past, they should be brought to justice. That is why, irrespective of our categorical rejection of the Channel 4 footage and its authenticity, the Government, and the Military, going by the recommendations of the LLRC has launched a Court of Inquiry. This is the first thing that any professional military in the world would do. I would like to reiterate our request to the Channel-4 to provide the original materials used by them to help the investigation process, which to date has not been acceded to.
10. As a democratic country, Sri Lanka has done much to recover from the deadly effects of the 30 long years of the terrorist conflict that has devastated every aspect of life in the country. It is a painful and delicate reconciliation process. We are mindful of the challenges ahead and once more I wish to reiterate that repetitive bashing of Sri Lanka with vested agenda would not be of any help in bringing justice or reconciliation but it will only keep the wounds open for ever.
11. My next point is even more worrisome. Why reputed NGOs are letting their name and prestige to be used for promoting this kind of cynical activities. When the money of LTTE comes through its front organizations under the guise of charity, even some of the reputed NGOs present here have become gullible to LTTE propaganda. It appears they have forgotten, the crimes of the LTTE, when accepting the donations in dollars. I am saying this with authority and proof at hand.
12. Though the LTTE, a banned Terrorist Organization in 32 countries including the EU has been defeated in Sri Lanka completely and comprehensively, the remaining LTTE rumps are still active outside of Sri Lanka, particularly in Europe. Being a Tamil speaker myself, I can provide enough and more evidence to prove that the Channel-4 has a sinister motive to discredit Sri Lanka with the connivance of the Pro-LTTE Diaspora Organizations; The screening of the selected version of the documentary during the 3rd Anniversary of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) is a clear indication to this. It is in one hand ironical to see how the one time ardent supporters of LTTE and its killing spree, through funding and other propaganda, are now reborn as independent human rights activists.
13. Further, the objective of the producer is very clear now with his kick-starter project coming into light pleading pounds to make a globe-rotting venture with the film. Can he with conscious tell this audience that he is satisfied that the money he collects now, are not from the same people who once supported killing of innocent Tamil people in my country. If he cannot, we have to assume that he does not care as long as it fulfils the 20,000 pound target to help him roam around the globe with his product.
14. In conclusion I must say that No fire Zone is doing an injustice to the ordinary Sri Lankan people who are yearning for nothing but peace, dignity and normalcy in life. If the supporters of this venture believe that by cooking up stories like the “No Fire Zone” can bring them peace and dignity, it is nothing but a grave mistake. Please do not seek globe-rotting their plight; my Sri Lankan Tamil brothers and sisters living in the country do not deserve such treatment.
20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity
by Chaz Bufe
Table of Contents
- Christianity is based on fear
- Christianity preys on the innocent
- Christianity is based on dishonesty
- Christianity is extremely egocentric
- Christianity breeds arrogance, a chosen-people mentality
- Christianity breeds authoritarianism
- Christianity is cruel
- Christianity is anti-intellectual, anti-scientific
- Christianity has a morbid, unhealthy preoccupation with sex
- Christianity produces sexual misery
- Christianity has an exceedingly narrow, legalistic view of morality
- Christianity encourages acceptance of real evils while focusing on imaginary evils
- Christianity depreciates the natural world
- Christianity models hierarchical, authoritarian organization
- Christianity sanctions slavery
- Christianity is misogynistic
- Christianity is homophobic
- The Bible is not a reliable guide to Christ’s teachings
- The Bible is riddled with contradictions
- Christianity borrowed its central myths and ceremonies from other ancient religions
This pamphlet briefly looks at many of the reasons that Christianity is undesirable from both a personal and a social point of view. All of the matters discussed here have been dealt with elsewhere at greater length, but that’s beside the point: the purpose of 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity is to list the most outstanding misery-producing and socially destructive qualities of Christianity in one place. When considered in toto, they lead to an irresistible conclusion: that Christianity must be abandoned, for the sake of both personal happiness and social progress.
As regards the title, “abandon”—rather than “suppress” or “do away with”—was chosen deliberately. Attempts to coercively suppress beliefs are not only ethically wrong, but in the long run they are often ineffective—as the recent resurgence of religion in the former Soviet Union demonstrates. If Christianity is ever to disappear, it will be because individual human beings wake up, abandon their destructive, repressive beliefs, and choose life, choose to be here now.
1. Christianity is based on fear. While today there are liberal clergy who preach a gospel of love, they ignore the bulk of Christian teachings, not to mention the bulk of Christian history. Throughout almost its entire time on Earth, the motor driving Christianity has been—in addition to the fear of death—fear of the devil and fear of hell. One can only imagine how potent these threats seemed prior to the rise of science and rational thinking, which have largely robbed these bogeys of their power to inspire terror. But even today, the existence of the devil and hell are cardinal doctrinal tenets of almost all Christian creeds, and many fundamentalist preachers still openly resort to terrorizing their followers with lurid, sadistic portraits of the suffering of nonbelievers after death. This is not an attempt to convince through logic and reason; it is not an attempt to appeal to the better nature of individuals; rather, it is an attempt to whip the flock into line through threats, through appeals to a base part of human nature—fear and cowardice.
2. Christianity preys on the innocent. If Christian fear-mongering were directed solely at adults, it would be bad enough, but Christians routinely terrorize helpless children through grisly depictions of the endless horrors and suffering they’ll be subjected to if they don’t live good Christian lives. Christianity has darkened the early years of generation after generation of children, who have lived in terror of dying while in mortal sin and going to endless torment as a result. All of these children were trusting of adults, and they did not have the ability to analyze what they were being told; they were simply helpless victims, who, ironically, victimized following generations in the same manner that they themselves had been victimized. The nearly 2000 years of Christian terrorizing of children ranks as one of its greatest crimes. And it’s one that continues to this day.
As an example of Christianity’s cruel brainwashing of the innocent, consider this quotation from an officially approved, 19th-century Catholic children’s book (Tracts for Spiritual Reading, by Rev. J. Furniss, C.S.S.R.):
Look into this little prison. In the middle of it there is a boy, a young man. He is silent; despair is on him . . . His eyes are burning like two burning coals. Two long flames come out of his ears. His breathing is difficult. Sometimes he opens his mouth and breath of blazing fire rolls out of it. But listen! There is a sound just like that of a kettle boiling. Is it really a kettle which is boiling? No; then what is it? Hear what it is. The blood is boiling in the scalding veins of that boy. The brain is boiling and bubbling in his head. The marrow is boiling in his bones. Ask him why he is thus tormented. His answer is that when he was alive, his blood boiled to do very wicked things.
There are many similar passages in this book. Commenting on it, William Meagher, Vicar-General of Dublin, states in his Approbation:
“I have carefully read over this Little Volume for Children and have found nothing whatever in it contrary to the doctrines of the Holy Faith; but on the contrary, a great deal to charm, instruct and edify the youthful classes for whose benefit it has been written.”
3. Christianity is based on dishonesty. The Christian appeal to fear, to cowardice, is an admission that the evidence supporting Christian beliefs is far from compelling. If the evidence were such that Christianity’s truth was immediately apparent to anyone who considered it, Christians—including those who wrote the Gospels—would feel no need to resort to the cheap tactic of using fear-inducing threats to inspire “belief.” (“Lip service” is a more accurate term.) That the Christian clergy have been more than willing to accept such lip service (plus the dollars and obedience that go with it) in place of genuine belief, is an additional indictment of the basic dishonesty of Christianity.
How deep dishonesty runs in Christianity can be gauged by one of the most popular Christian arguments for belief in God: Pascal’s wager. This “wager” holds that it’s safer to “believe” in God (as if belief were volitional!) than not to believe, because God might exist, and if it does, it will save “believers” and condemn nonbelievers to hell after death. This is an appeal to pure cowardice. It has absolutely nothing to do with the search for truth. Instead, it’s an appeal to abandon honesty and intellectual integrity, and to pretend that lip service is the same thing as actual belief. If the patriarchal God of Christianity really exists, one wonders how it would judge the cowards and hypocrites who advance and bow to this particularly craven “wager.”
4. Christianity is extremely egocentric. The deep egocentrism of Christianity is intimately tied to its reliance on fear. In addition to the fears of the devil and hell, Christianity plays on another of humankind’s most basic fears: death, the dissolution of the individual ego. Perhaps Christianity’s strongest appeal is its promise of eternal life. While there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, most people are so terrified of death that they cling to this treacly promise insisting, like frightened children, that it must be true. Nietzsche put the matter well: “salvation of the soul—in plain words, the world revolves around me.” It’s difficult to see anything spiritual in this desperate grasping at straws—this desperate grasping at the illusion of personal immortality.
Another manifestation of the extreme egotism of Christianity is the belief that God is intimately concerned with picayune aspects of, and directly intervenes in, the lives of individuals. If God, the creator and controller of the universe, is vitally concerned with your sex life, you must be pretty damned important. Many Christians take this particular form of egotism much further and actually imagine that God has a plan for them, or that God directly talks to, directs, or even does favors for them.(1) If one ignored the frequent and glaring contradictions in this supposed divine guidance, and the dead bodies sometimes left in its wake, one could almost believe that the individuals making such claims are guided by God. But one can’t ignore the contradictions in and the oftentimes horrible results of following such “divine guidance.” As “Agent Mulder” put it (perhaps paraphrasing Thomas Szasz) in a 1998 X-Files episode, “When you talk to God it’s prayer, but when God talks to you it’s schizophrenia. . . . God may have his reasons, but he sure seems to employ a lot of psychotics to carry out his job orders.”
In less extreme cases, the insistence that one is receiving divine guidance or special treatment from God is usually the attempt of those who feel worthless—or helpless, adrift in an uncaring universe—to feel important or cared for. This less sinister form of egotism is commonly found in the expressions of disaster survivors that “God must have had a reason for saving me” (in contrast to their less-worthy-of-life fellow disaster victims, whom God—who controls all things—killed). Again, it’s very difficult to see anything spiritual in such egocentricity.
5. Christianity breeds arrogance, a chosen-people mentality. It’s only natural that those who believe (or play act at believing) that they have a direct line to the Almighty would feel superior to others. This is so obvious that it needs little elaboration. A brief look at religious terminology confirms it. Christians have often called themselves “God’s people,” “the chosen people,” “the elect,” “the righteous,” etc., while nonbelievers have been labeled “heathens,” “infidels,” and “atheistic Communists” (as if atheism and Communism are intimately connected). This sets up a two-tiered division of humanity, in which “God’s people” feel superior to those who are not “God’s people.”
That many competing religions with contradictory beliefs make the same claim seems not to matter at all to the members of the various sects that claim to be the only carriers of “the true faith.” The carnage that results when two competing sects of “God’s people” collide—as in Ireland and Palestine—would be quite amusing but for the suffering it causes.
6. Christianity breeds authoritarianism. Given that Christians claim to have the one true faith, to have a book that is the Word of God, and (in many cases) to receive guidance directly from God, they feel little or no compunction about using force and coercion to enforce “God’s Will” (which they, of course, interpret and understand). Given that they believe (or pretend) that they’re receiving orders from the Almighty (who would cast them into hell should they disobey), it’s little wonder that they feel no reluctance, and in fact are eager, to intrude into the most personal aspects of the lives of nonbelievers. This is most obvious today in the area of sex, with Christians attempting to deny women the right to abortion and to mandate near-useless abstinence-only sex “education” in the public schools. It’s also obvious in the area of education, with Christians attempting to force biology teachers to teach their creation myth (but not those of Hindus, Native Americans, et al.) in place of (or as being equally valid as) the very well established theory of evolution. But the authoritarian tendencies of Christianity reach much further than this.
Up until well into the 20th century in the United States and other Christian countries (notably Ireland), Christian churches pressured governments into passing laws forbidding the sale and distribution of birth control devices, and they also managed to enact laws forbidding even the description of birth control devices. This assault on free speech was part and parcel of Christianity’s shameful history of attempting to suppress “indecent” and “subversive” materials (and to throw their producers in jail or burn them alive). This anti-free speech stance of Christianity dates back centuries, with the cases of Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruno (who was burnt alive) being good illustrations of it. Perhaps the most colorful example of this intrusive Christian tendency toward censorship is the Catholic Church’s Index of Prohibited Books, which dates from the 16th century and which was abandoned only in the latter part of the 20th century—not because the church recognized it as a crime against human freedom, but because it could no longer be enforced (not that it was ever systematically enforced—that was too big a job even for the Inquisition).
Christian authoritarianism extends, however, far beyond attempts to suppress free speech; it extends even to attempts to suppress freedom of belief. In the 15th century, under Ferdinand and Isabella at about the time of Columbus’s discovery of the New World, Spain’s Jews were ordered either to convert to Christianity or to flee the country; about half chose exile, while those who remained, the “Conversos,” were favorite targets of the Inquisition. A few years later, Spain’s Muslims were forced to make a similar choice.
This Christian hatred of freedom of belief—and of individual freedom in general—extends to this day. Up until the late 19th century in England, atheists who had the temerity to openly advocate their beliefs were jailed. Even today in many parts of the United States laws still exist that forbid atheists from serving on juries or from holding public office. And it’s no mystery what the driving force is behind laws against victimless “crimes” such as nudity, sodomy, fornication, cohabitation, and prostitution.
If your nonintrusive beliefs or actions are not in accord with Christian “morality,” you can bet that Christians will feel completely justified—not to mention righteous—in poking their noses (often in the form of state police agencies) into your private life.
7. Christianity is cruel. Throughout its history, cruelty—both to self and others—has been one of the most prominent features of Christianity. From its very start, Christianity, with its bleak view of life, its emphasis upon sexual sin, and its almost impossible-to-meet demands for sexual “purity,” encouraged guilt, penance, and self-torture. Today, this self-torture is primarily psychological, in the form of guilt arising from following (or denying, and thus obsessing over) one’s natural sexual desires. In earlier centuries, it was often physical. W.E.H. Lecky relates:
For about two centuries, the hideous maceration of the body was regarded as the highest proof of excellence. . . . The cleanliness of the body was regarded as a pollution of the soul, and the saints who were most admired had become one hideous mass of clotted filth. . . . But of all the evidences of the loathsome excesses to which this spirit was carried, the life of St. Simeon Stylites is probably the most remarkable. . . . He had bound a rope around him so that it became embedded in his flesh, which putrefied around it. A horrible stench, intolerable to the bystanders, exhaled from his body, and worms dropped from him whenever he moved, and they filled his bed. . . . For a whole year, we are told, St. Simeon stood upon one leg, the other being covered with hideous ulcers, while his biographer [St. Anthony] was commissioned to stand by his side, to pick up the worms that fell from his body, and to replace them in the sores, the saint saying to the worms, “Eat what God has given you.” From every quarter pilgrims of every degree thronged to do him homage. A crowd of prelates followed him to the grave. A brilliant star is said to have shone miraculously over his pillar; the general voice of mankind pronounced him to be the highest model of a Christian saint; and several other anchorites [Christian hermits] imitated or emulated his penances.
Given that the Bible nowhere condemns torture and sometimes prescribes shockingly cruel penalties (such as burning alive), and that Christians so wholeheartedly approved of self-torture, it’s not surprising that they thought little of inflicting appallingly cruel treatment upon others. At the height of Christianity’s power and influence, hundreds of thousands of “witches” were brutally tortured and burned alive under the auspices of ecclesiastical witch finders, and the Inquisition visited similarly cruel treatment upon those accused of heresy. Henry Charles Lea records:
Two hundred wretches crowded the filthy gaol and it was requisite to forbid the rest of the Conversos [Jews intimidated into converting to Christianity] from leaving the city [Jaen, Spain] without a license. With Diego’s assistance [Diego de Algeciras, a petty criminal and kept perjurer] and the free use of torture, on both accused and witnesses, it was not difficult to obtain whatever evidence was desired. The notary of the tribunal, Antonio de Barcena, was especially successful in this. On one occasion, he locked a young girl of fifteen in a room, stripped her naked and scourged her until she consented to bear testimony against her mother. A prisoner was carried in a chair to the auto da fe with his feet burnt to the bone; he and his wife were burnt alive . . . The cells in which the unfortunates were confined in heavy chains were narrow, dark, humid, filthy and overrun with vermin, while their sequestrated property was squandered by the officials, so that they nearly starved in prison while their helpless children starved outside.
While the torture and murder of heretics and “witches” is now largely a thing of the past, Christians can still be remarkably cruel. One current example is provided by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Its members picket the funerals of victims of AIDS and gay bashings, brandishing signs reading, “God Hates Fags,” “AIDS Cures Fags,” and “Thank God for AIDS.” The pastor of this church reportedly once sent a “condolence” card to the bereaved mother of an AIDS victim, reading “Another Dead Fag.”(2) Christians are also at the forefront of those advocating vicious, life-destroying penalties for those who commit victimless “crimes,” as well as being at the forefront of those who support the death penalty and those who want to make prison conditions even more barbaric than they are now.
But this should not be surprising coming from Christians, members of a religion that teaches that eternal torture is not only justified, but that the “saved” will enjoy seeing the torture of others. As St. Thomas Aquinas put it:
In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful and that they may give to God more copious thanks for it, they are permitted perfectly to behold the sufferings of the damned . . . The saints will rejoice in the punishment of the damned.
Thus the vision of heaven of Christianity’s greatest theologian is a vision of the sadistic enjoyment of endless torture.
8. Christianity is anti-intellectual, anti-scientific. For over a millennium Christianity arrested the development of science and scientific thinking. In Christendom, from the time of Augustine until the Renaissance, systematic investigation of the natural world was restricted to theological investigation—the interpretation of biblical passages, the gleaning of clues from the lives of the saints, etc.; there was no direct observation and interpretation of natural processes, because that was considered a useless pursuit, as all knowledge resided in scripture. The results of this are well known: scientific knowledge advanced hardly an inch in the over 1000 years from the rise of orthodox Christianity in the fourth century to the 1500s, and the populace was mired in the deepest squalor and ignorance, living in dire fear of the supernatural—believing in paranormal explanations for the most ordinary natural events. This ignorance had tragic results: it made the populace more than ready to accept witchcraft as an explanation for everything from illness to thunderstorms, and hundreds of thousands of women paid for that ignorance with their lives. One of the commonest charges against witches was that they had raised hailstorms or other weather disturbances to cause misfortune to their neighbors. In an era when supernatural explanations were readily accepted, such charges held weight—and countless innocent people died horrible deaths as a result. Another result was that the fearful populace remained very dependent upon Christianity and its clerical wise men for protection against the supernatural evils which they believed surrounded and constantly menaced them. For men and women of the Middle Ages, the walls veritably crawled with demons and witches; and their only protection from those evils was the church.
When scientific investigation into the natural world resumed in the Renaissance—after a 1000-year-plus hiatus—organized Christianity did everything it could to stamp it out. The cases of Copernicus and Galileo are particularly relevant here, because when the Catholic Church banned the Copernican theory (that the Earth revolves around the sun) and banned Galileo from teaching it, it did not consider the evidence for that theory: it was enough that it contradicted scripture. Given that the Copernican theory directly contradicted the Word of God, the Catholic hierarchy reasoned that it must be false. Protestants shared this view. John Calvin rhetorically asked, “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?”
More lately, the Catholic Church and the more liberal Protestant congregations have realized that fighting against science is a losing battle, and they’ve taken to claiming that there is no contradiction between science and religion. This is disingenuous at best. As long as Christian sects continue to claim as fact—without offering a shred of evidence beyond the anecdotal—that physically impossible events occurred (or are still occurring), the conflict between science and religion will remain. That many churchmen and many scientists seem content to let this conflict lie doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
Today, however, the conflict between religion and science is largely being played out in the area of public school biology education, with Christian fundamentalists demanding that their creation myth be taught in place of (or along with) the theory of evolution in the public schools. Their tactics rely heavily on public misunderstanding of science. They nitpick the fossil record for its gaps (hardly surprising given that we inhabit a geologically and meteorologically very active planet), while offering absurd interpretations of their own which we’re supposed to accept at face value—such as that dinosaur fossils were placed in the earth by Satan to confuse humankind, or that Noah took baby dinosaurs on the ark.
They also attempt to take advantage of public ignorance of the nature of scientific theories. In popular use, “theory” is employed as a synonym for “hypothesis,” “conjecture,” or even “wild guess,” that is, it signifies an idea with no special merit or backing. The use of the term in science is quite different. There, “theory” refers to a well-developed, logically consistent explanation of a phenomenon, and an explanation that is consistent with observed facts. This is very different than a wild guess. But fundamentalists deliberately confuse the two uses of the term in an attempt to make their religious myth appear as valid as a well-supported scientific theory.
They also attempt to confuse the issue by claiming that those nonspecialists who accept the theory of evolution have no more reason to do so than they have in accepting their religious creation myth, or even that those who accept evolution do so on “faith.” Again, this is more than a bit dishonest.
Thanks to scientific investigation, human knowledge has advanced to the point where no one can know more than a tiny fraction of the whole. Even the most knowledgeable scientists often know little beyond their specialty areas. But because of the structure of science, they (and everyone else) can feel reasonably secure in accepting the theories developed by scientists in other disciplines as the best possible current explanations of the areas of nature those disciplines cover. They (and we) can feel secure doing this because of the structure of science, and more particularly, because of the scientific method. That method basically consists of gathering as much information about a phenomenon (both in nature and in the laboratory) as possible, then developing explanations for it (hypotheses), and then testing the hypotheses to see how well they explain the observed facts, and whether or not any of those observed facts are inconsistent with the hypotheses. Those hypotheses that are inconsistent with observed facts are discarded or modified, while those that are consistent are retained, and those that survive repeated testing are often labeled “theories,” as in “the theory of relativity” and “the theory of evolution.”
This is the reason that nonspecialists are justified in accepting scientific theories outside their disciplines as the best current explanations of observed phenomena: those who developed the theories were following standard scientific practice and reasoning—and if they deviate from that, other scientists will quickly call them to task.
No matter how much fundamentalists might protest to the contrary, there is a world of difference between “faith” in scientific theories (produced using the scientific method, and subject to near-continual testing and scrutiny) and faith in the entirely unsupported myths recorded 3000 years ago by slave-holding goat herders.
Nearly 500 years ago Martin Luther, in his Table Talk, stated: “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has.” The opposite is also true.
9. Christianity has a morbid, unhealthy preoccupation with sex. For centuries, Christianity has had an exceptionally unhealthy fixation on sex, to the exclusion of almost everything else (except power, money, and the infliction of cruelty). This stems from the numerous “thou shalt nots” relating to sex in the Bible. That the Ten Commandments contain a commandment forbidding the coveting of one’s neighbor’s wife, but do not even mention slavery, torture, or cruelty—which were abundantly common in the time the Commandments were written— speaks volumes about their writer’s preoccupation with sex (and women as property).
Today, judging from the pronouncements of many Christian leaders, one would think that “morality” consists solely of what one does in one’s bedroom. The Catholic Church is the prime example here, with its moral pronouncements rarely going beyond the matters of birth control and abortion (and with its moral emphasis seemingly entirely on those matters). Also note that the official Catholic view of sex—that it’s for the purpose of procreation only—reduces human sexual relations to those of brood animals. For more than a century the Catholic Church has also been the driving force behind efforts to prohibit access to birth control devices and information—to everyone, not just Catholics.
The Catholic Church, however, is far from alone in its sick obsession with sex. The current Christian hate campaign against homosexuals is another prominent manifestation of this perverse preoccupation. Even at this writing, condemnation of “sodomites” from church pulpits is still very, very common—with Christian clergymen wringing their hands as they piously proclaim that their words of hate have nothing to do with gay bashings and the murder of gays.
10. Christianity produces sexual misery. In addition to the misery produced by authoritarian Christian intrusions into the sex lives of non-Christians, Christianity produces great misery among its own adherents through its insistence that sex (except the very narrow variety it sanctions) is evil, against God’s law. Christianity proscribes sex between unmarried people, sex outside of marriage, homosexual relations, bestiality, (3) and even “impure” sexual thoughts. Indulging in such things can and will, in the conventional Christian view, lead straight to hell.
Given that human beings are by nature highly sexual beings, and that their urges very often do not fit into the only officially sanctioned Christian form of sexuality (monogamous, heterosexual marriage), it’s inevitable that those who attempt to follow Christian “morality” in this area are often miserable, as their strongest urges run smack dab into the wall of religious belief. This is inevitable in Christian adolescents and unmarried young people in that the only “pure” way for them to behave is celibately—in the strict Christian view, even masturbation is prohibited. Phillip Roth has well described the dilemma of the religiously/sexually repressed young in Portnoy’s Complaint as “being torn between desires that are repugnant to my conscience and a conscience repugnant to my desires.” Thus the years of adolescence and young adulthood for many Christians are poisoned by “sinful” urges, unfulfilled longings, and intense guilt (after the urges become too much to bear and are acted upon).
Even after Christian young people receive a license from church and state to have sex, they often discover that the sexual release promised by marriage is not all that it’s cracked up to be. One gathers that in marriages between those who have followed Christian rules up until marriage—that is, no sex at all—sexual ineptitude and lack of fulfillment are all too common. Even when Christian married people do have good sexual relations, the problems do not end. Sexual attractions ebb and flow, and new attractions inevitably arise. In conventional Christian relationships, one is not allowed to act on these new attractions. One is often not even permitted to admit that such attractions exist. As Sten Linnander puts it, “with traditional [Christian] morality, you have to choose between being unfaithful to yourself or to another.”
The dilemma is even worse for gay teens and young people in that Christianity never offers them release from their unrequited urges. They are simply condemned to lifelong celibacy. If they indulge their natural desires, they become “sodomites” subject not only to Earthly persecution (due to Christian-inspired laws), but to being roasted alive forever in the pit. Given the internalized homophobia Christian teachings inspire, not to mention the very real discrimination gay people face, it’s not surprising that a great many homosexually oriented Christians choose to live a lie. In most cases, this leads to lifelong personal torture, but it can have even more tragic results.
A prime example is Marshall Applewhite, “John Do,” the guru of the Heaven’s Gate religious cult. Applewhite grew up in the South in a repressive Christian fundamentalist family. Horrified by his homosexual urges, he began to think of sexuality itself as evil, and eventually underwent castration to curb his sexual urges.(4) Several of his followers took his anti-sexual teachings to heart and likewise underwent castration before, at “Do’s” direction, killing themselves.
11. Christianity has an exceedingly narrow, legalistic view of morality. Christianity not only reduces, for all practical purposes, the question of morality to that of sexual behavior, but by listing its prohibitions, it encourages an “everything not prohibited is permitted” mentality. So, for instance, medieval inquisitors tortured their victims, while at the same time they went to lengths to avoid spilling the blood of those they tortured—though they thought nothing of burning them alive. Another very relevant example is that until the latter part of the 19th century Christians engaged in the slave trade, and Christian preachers defended it, citing biblical passages, from the pulpit. Today, with the exception of a relatively few liberal churchgoers, Christians ignore the very real evils plaguing our society—poverty; homelessness; hunger; militarism; a grossly unfair distribution of wealth and income; ecological despoliation exacerbated by corporate greed; overpopulation; sexism; racism; homophobia; freedom-denying, invasive drug laws; an inadequate educational system; etc., etc.—unless they’re actively working to worsen those evils in the name of Christian morality or “family values.”
12. Christianity encourages acceptance of real evils while focusing on imaginary evils. Organized Christianity is a skillful apologist for the status quo and all the evils that go along with it. It diverts attention from real problems by focusing attention on sexual issues, and when confronted with social evils such as poverty glibly dismisses them with platitudes such as, “The poor ye have always with you.” When confronted with the problems of militarism and war, most Christians shrug and say, “That’s human nature. It’s always been that way, and it always will.” One suspects that 200 years ago their forebears would have said exactly the same thing about slavery.
This regressive, conservative tendency of Christianity has been present from its very start. The Bible is quite explicit in its instructions to accept the status quo: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1–2)
13. Christianity depreciates the natural world. In addition to its morbid preoccupation with sex, Christianity creates social myopia through its emphasis on the supposed afterlife—encouraging Christians not to be concerned with “the things of this world” (except, of course, their neighbors’ sexual practices). In the conventional Christian view, life in this “vale of tears” is not important—what matters is preparing for the next life. (Of course it follows from this that the “vale of tears” itself is quite unimportant—it’s merely the backdrop to the testing of the faithful.)
The Christian belief in the unimportance of happiness and well-being in this world is well illustrated by a statement by St. Alphonsus:
It would be a great advantage to suffer during all our lives all the torments of the martyrs in exchange for one moment of heaven. Sufferings in this world are a sign that God loves us and intends to save us.
This focus on the afterlife often leads to a distinct lack of concern for the natural world, and sometimes to outright anti-ecological attitudes. Ronald Reagan’s fundamentalist Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, went so far as to actively encourage the strip mining and clear cutting of the American West, reasoning that ecological damage didn’t matter because the “rapture” was at hand.
14. Christianity models hierarchical, authoritarian organization. Christianity is perhaps the ultimate top-down enterprise. In its simplest form, it consists of God on top, its “servants,” the clergy, next down, and the great unwashed masses at the bottom, with those above issuing, in turn, thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots backed by the threat of eternal damnation. But a great many Christian sects go far beyond this, having several layers of management and bureaucracy. Catholicism is perhaps the most extreme example of this with its laity, monks, nuns, priests, monsignors, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes, all giving and taking orders in an almost military manner. This type of organization cannot but accustom those in its sway—especially those who have been indoctrinated and attending its ceremonies since birth—into accepting hierarchical, authoritarian organization as the natural, if not the only, form of organization. Those who find such organization natural will see nothing wrong with hierarchical, authoritarian organization in other forms, be they corporations, with their multiple layers of brown-nosing management, or governments, with their judges, legislators, presidents, and politburos. The indoctrination by example that Christianity provides in the area of organization is almost surely a powerful influence against social change toward freer, more egalitarian forms of organization.
15. Christianity sanctions slavery. The African slave trade was almost entirely conducted by Christians. They transported their victims to the New World in slave ships with names such as “Mercy” and “Jesus,” where they were bought by Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. Organized Christianity was not silent on this horror: it actively encouraged it and engaged in it. From the friars who enslaved Native Americans in the Southwest and Mexico to the Protestant preachers who defended slavery from the pulpit in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, the record of Christianity as regards slavery is quite shameful. While many abolitionists were Christians, they were a very small group, well hated by most of their fellow Christians.
The Christians who supported and engaged in slavery were amply supported by the Bible, in which slavery is accepted as a given, as simply a part of the social landscape. There are numerous biblical passages that implicitly or explicitly endorse slavery, such as Exodus 21:20–21: “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.” Other passages that support slavery include Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9–10, Exodus 21:2–6, Leviticus 25:44–46, 1 Peter 2:18, and 1 Timothy 6:1. Christian slave owners in colonial America were well acquainted with these passages.
16. Christianity is misogynistic. Misogyny is fundamental to the basic writings of Christianity. In passage after passage, women are encouraged—no, commanded—to accept an inferior role, and to be ashamed of themselves for the simple fact that they are women. Misogynistic biblical passages are so common that it’s difficult to know which to cite. From the New Testament we find “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . . .” (Ephesians 5:22–23) and “These [redeemed] are they which were not defiled with women; . . .” (Revelation 14:4); and from the Old Testament we find “How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4) Other relevant New Testament passages include Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 11:9, and 14:34; and 1 Timothy 2:11–12 and 5:5–6. Other Old Testament passages include Numbers 5:20–22 and Leviticus 12:2–5 and 15:17–33.
Later Christian writers extended the misogynistic themes in the Bible with a vengeance. Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, wrote:
In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die. . . . Woman, you are the gate to hell.
One can find similarly misogynistic—though sometimes less venomous—statements in the writings of many other church fathers and theologians, including St. Ambrose, St. Anthony, Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nazianzum, and St. Jerome.
This misogynistic bias in Christianity’s basic texts has long been translated into misogyny in practice. Throughout almost the entire time that Christianity had Europe and America in its lock grip, women were treated as chattel—they had essentially no political rights, and their right to own property was severely restricted. Perhaps the clearest illustration of the status of women in the ages when Christianity was at its most powerful is the prevalence of wife beating. This degrading, disgusting practice was very common throughout Christendom well up into the 19th century, and under English Common Law husbands who beat their wives were specifically exempted from prosecution. (While wife beating is still common in Christian lands, at least in some countries abusers are at least sometimes prosecuted.)
At about the same time that English Common Law (with its wife-beating exemption) was being formulated and codified, Christians all across Europe were engaging in a half-millennium-long orgy of torture and murder of “witches”—at the direct behest and under the direction of the highest church authorities. The watchword of the time was Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” and at the very minimum hundreds of thousands of women were brutally murdered as a result of this divine injunction, and the papal bulls amplifying it (e.g., Spondit Pariter, by John XXII, and Summis Desiderantes, by Innocent VIII). Andrew Dickson White notes:
On the 7th of December, 1484, Pope Innocent VIII sent forth the bull Summis Desiderantes. Of all documents ever issued from Rome, imperial or papal, this has doubtless, first and last, cost the greatest shedding of innocent blood. Yet no document was ever more clearly dictated by conscience. Inspired by the scriptural command, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” Pope Innocent exhorted the clergy of Germany to leave no means untried to detect sorcerers . . . [W]itch-finding inquisitors were authorized by the Pope to scour Europe, especially Germany, and a manual was prepared for their use [by the Dominicans Heinrich Krämer and Jacob Sprenger]—”The Witch Hammer”, Malleus Maleficarum. . . . With the application of torture to thousands of women, in accordance with the precepts laid down in the Malleus, it was not difficult to extract masses of proof . . . The poor creatures writhing on the rack, held in horror by those who had been nearest and dearest to them, anxious only for death to relieve their sufferings, confessed to anything and everything that would satisfy the inquisitors and judges. . . . Under the doctrine of “excepted cases,” there was no limit to torture for persons accused of heresy or witchcraft.
Given this bloody, hateful history, it’s not surprising that women have always held very subservient positions in Christian churches. In fact, there appear to have been no female clergy in any Christian church prior to the 20th century (with the exception of those who posed as men, such as Pope Joan), and even today a great many Christian sects (most notably the Catholic Church) continue to resist ordaining female clergy. While a few liberal Protestant churches have ordained women in recent years, it’s difficult to see this as a great step forward for women; it’s easier to see it as analogous to the Ku Klux Klan’s appointing a few token blacks as Klaxons.
As for the improvements in the status of women over the last two centuries, the Christian churches either did nothing to support them or actively opposed them. This is most obvious as regards women’s control over their own bodies. Organized Christianity has opposed this from the start, and as late as the 1960s the Catholic Church was still putting its energies into the imposition of laws prohibiting access to contraceptives. Having lost that battle, Christianity has more recently put its energies into attempts to outlaw the right of women to abortion.
Many of those leading the fight for women’s rights have had no illusions about the misogynistic nature of Christianity. These women included Mary Wollstonecraft, Victoria Woodhull, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Margaret Sanger (whose slogan, “No God. No master,” remains relevant to this day).
17. Christianity is homophobic. Christianity from its beginnings has been markedly homophobic. The biblical basis for this homophobia lies in the story of Sodom in Genesis, and in Leviticus. Leviticus 18:22 reads: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination,” and Leviticus 20:13 reads: “If a man lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
This sounds remarkably harsh, yet Leviticus proscribes a great many other things, declares many of them “abominations,” and prescribes the death penalty for several other acts, some of which are shockingly picayune. Leviticus 17:10–13 prohibits the eating of blood sausage; Leviticus 11:6–7 prohibits the eating of “unclean” hares and swine; Leviticus 11:10 declares shellfish “abominations”; Leviticus 20:9 prescribes the death penalty for cursing one’s father or mother; Leviticus 20:10 prescribes the death penalty for adultery; Leviticus 20:14 prescribes the penalty of being burnt alive for having a three-way with one’s wife and mother-in-law; and Leviticus 20:15 declares, “And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast” (which seems rather unfair to the poor beast). (One suspects that American Christians have never attempted to pass laws enforcing Leviticus 20:15, because if passed and enforced such laws would decimate both the rural, Bible-Belt population and the cattle industry.)
Curiously, given the multitude of prohibitions in Leviticus, the vast majority of present-day Christians have chosen to focus only upon Leviticus 20:13, the verse calling for the death penalty for homosexual acts. And at least some of them haven’t been averse to acting on it. (To be fair, some Christian “reconstructionists” are currently calling for institution of the death penalty for adultery and atheism as well as for “sodomy.”)
Throughout history, homosexuality has been illegal in Christian lands, and the penalties have been severe. In the Middle Ages, strangled gay men were sometimes placed on the wood piles at the burning of witches (hence the term “faggot”). One member of the British royalty caught having homosexual relations suffered an even more grisly fate: Edward II’s penalty was being held down while a red hot poker was jammed through his rectum and intestines. In more modern times, countless gay people have been jailed for years for the victimless “crime” of having consensual sex. It was only in 2003 that the Supreme Court struck down the felony laws on the books in many American states prescribing lengthy prison terms for consensual “sodomy.” And many Christians would love to reinstate those laws.
Thus the current wave of gay bashings and murders of gay people should come as no surprise. Christians can find justification for such violence in the Bible and also in the hate-filled sermons issuing from all too many pulpits in this country. If history is any indication, the homophobic messages in those sermons will continue to be issued for many years to come.
18. The Bible is not a reliable guide to Christ’s teachings. Mark, the oldest of the Gospels, was written at least 30 years after Christ’s death, and the newest of them might have been written more than 200 years after his death. These texts have been amended, translated, and re-translated so often that it’s extremely difficult to gauge the accuracy of current editions—even aside from the matter of the accuracy of texts written decades or centuries after the death of their subject. This is such a problem that the Jesus Seminar, a colloquium of over 200 Protestant Gospel scholars mostly employed at religious colleges and seminaries, undertook in 1985 a multi-year investigation into the historicity of the statements and deeds attributed to Jesus in the New Testament. They concluded that only 18% of the statements and 16% of the deeds attributed to Jesus had a high likelihood of being historically accurate. So, in a very real sense fundamentalists—who claim to believe in the literal truth of the Bible—are not followers of Jesus Christ; rather, they are followers of those who, decades or centuries later, put words in his mouth.
19. The Bible, Christianity’s basic text, is riddled with contradictions. There are a number of glaring contradictions in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, and including some within the same books. A few examples:
“. . . God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.”
“. . . for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever.”
“Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever. Thus saith the Lord.”
“If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.”
(John 5:31, J.C. speaking)
“I am one that bear witness of myself . . .”
(John 8:18, J.C. speaking)
and last but not least:
“I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
“No man hath seen God at any time.”
“And I [God] will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts . . .”
Christian apologists typically attempt to explain away such contradictions by claiming that the fault lies in the translation, and that there were no contradictions in the original text. It’s difficult to see how this could be so, given how direct many biblical contradictions are; but even if these Christian apologetics held water, it would follow that every part of the Bible should be as suspect as the contradictory sections, thus reinforcing the previous point: that the Bible is not a reliable guide to Christ’s words.
20. Christianity borrowed its central myths and ceremonies from other ancient religions. The ancient world was rife with tales of virgin births, miracle-working saviors, tripartite gods, gods taking human form, gods arising from the dead, heavens and hells, and days of judgment. In addition to the myths, many of the ceremonies of ancient religions also match those of that syncretic latecomer, Christianity. To cite but one example (there are many others), consider Mithraism, a Persian religion predating Christianity by centuries. Mithra, the savior of the Mithraic religion and a god who took human form, was born of a virgin; he belonged to the holy trinity and was a link between heaven and Earth; and he ascended into heaven after his death. His followers believed in heaven and hell, looked forward to a day of judgment, and referred to Mithra as “the Light of the World.” They also practiced baptism (for purification purposes) and ritual cannibalism—the eating of bread and the drinking of wine to symbolize the eating and drinking of the god’s body and blood. Given all this, Mithra’s birthday should come as no surprise: December 25th; this event was, of course, celebrated by Mithra’s followers at midnight.
Mithraism is but the most striking example of the appearance of these myths and ceremonies prior to the advent of Christianity. They appear—in more scattered form—in many other pre-Christian religions.
A Final Word: These are but some of the major problems attending Christianity, and they provide overwhelming reasons for its abandon-ment. (Even if you discount half, two-thirds, or even three-quarters of these arguments, the conclusion is still irresistible.) For further discussion of these issues, and for consideration of many others not even mentioned here, please see the following books and pamphlets:
1. A friend who read the first draft of this manuscript notes: “My moronic sister-in-law once told me that God found her parking spots near the front door at Wal-mart! Years later, when she developed a brain tumor, I concluded that God must have gotten tired of finding parking places for her and gave her the tumor so that she could get handicapped plates.” As Nietzsche put it in The Anti-Christ: “that little hypocrites and half-crazed people dare to imagine that on their account the laws of nature are constantly broken—such an enhancement of every kind of selfishness to infinity, to impudence, cannot be branded with sufficient contempt. And yet Christianity owes its triumph to this pitiable flattery of personal vanity.”
2. The Westboro Baptist Church directly addresses the question of its hatefulness and cruelty on its web site (www.godhatesfags.com): “Why do you preach hate? Because the Bible preaches hate. For every one verse about God’s mercy, love, compassion, etc., there are two verses about His vengeance, hatred, wrath, etc.”
3. The repeated mention of this sin in medieval ecclesiastical writings leads one to wonder how widespread this practice was among the Christian faithful, including the Christian clergy. One 8th-century penitential (list of sins and punishments) quoted in A.A. Hadden’s Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents states: “If a cleric has fornicated with a quadruped let him do penance for, if he is a simple cleric, two years, if a deacon, three years, if a priest, seven years, if a bishop ten years.”
4. Given his religious background, and that his cult mixed Christianity with UFO beliefs, Applewhite was quite probably aware of the divine approbation of self-castration in Matthew 19:12: “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs , which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
Eleventh “Shangri-La Dialogue” launched in Singapore source:
- Sri Lanka Highlights the Importance of Regional Collaboration in Strengthening Security Partnerships Across the Asia – Pacific at the 11th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore
The “Shangri- La Dialogue”, the Asian region’s biggest defence and security forum commenced in Singapore on 1st June 2012 with the participation of over 351 delegates representing Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers, top military officials and analysts from over 27 countries.
Leading Sri Lanka’s delegation to this meeting, Minister of External Affairs Prof. G L Peiris and Secretary Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa had bilateral discussions on the first day with Minister for Defence of Singapore Dr. NG Eng. Hen and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Dr. Dipu Moni.
Having given the strategic positioning of the country in the Indian Ocean, Prof G L Peiris explained the significant role played by Sri Lanka in curbing international terrorism by ending a 30 year terrorist conflict and spoke of the constructive way forward adopted by the country in achieving national reconciliation and sustainable economic development. He expressed gratitude for the steadfast support these countries have extended to Sri Lanka at the UN and other regional forums.
Both Singapore and Bangladesh acknowledged their enhanced interactions and sound bilateral relations with Sri Lanka and the parties resolved to strengthen co-operation further in the defence and security spheres including combating human smuggling, transnational organized crimes and upholding maritime security in the Indian Ocean region.
Secretary Defence referred to the growing importance of the “Galle Dialogue” Maritime conference as a forum progressively gaining stature in discussing important issues of regional maritime security concerns and invited both Singapore and Bangladesh to participate in this annual event held in Sri Lanka.
The “Shangri-La Dialogue” will continue until 3rd June 2012 and Sri Lanka is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with more countries including India and the USA.
|Minister of External Affairs Prof. G L Peiris and Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa meeting with the Defence Minister of Singapore
|Meeting with the Minister of External Affairs Bangladesh
||Opening day keynote addres by Dr.Susilo Banmbang – President of Indonisia
|Opening day at the eleventh “Shangri-La Dialogue”