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The Use of Cluster Bombs in Sri Lanka - Fact or Fiction

The Use of Cluster Bombs in Sri Lanka - Fact or Fiction

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Published by SJV

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Published by: SJV on May 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 The recent revelation about the alleged discovery of sub-munitions in the Wanni East has re-opened thedebate about the use of Cluster Bombs in the Sri Lankan Conflict. The story initial broke as follows on April 28, 2012 (Title:
UN finds Cluster Bombs in Sri Lanka 
 The Associated Press obtained a copy Thursday of an email written by a U.N. land mine expert that saidunexploded cluster bomblets were discovered in the Puthukudiyiruppu area of northern Sri Lanka, where aboy was killed last month and his sister injured as they tried to pry apart an explosive device they had foundto sell for scrap metal. The email was written by Allan Poston, the technical adviser for the U.N. Development Program’s mineaction group in Sri Lanka.
“After reviewing additional photographs from the investigation teams, I have determined that there are cluster sub-munitions in the area where the children were collecting scrap metal and in the house where the accident occurred. This is the first time that there has been confirmed unexploded sub-munitions found in Sri Lanka” 
, the email said.
RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press
 Which was followed up with the following story on April 29 (Title:
Witness: Man hit by Cluster Bomb in Sri Lanka War 
 The medical worker said local U.N. staffers had told him in early February that they had found shrapnel fromcluster munitions around a hospital in Puthukudiyiruppu. The facility was later moved to a makeshift hospital in the village of Putumattalan, where patients beganspeaking of being wounded by cluster munitions, which make an unmistakable sound, a loud explosionfollowed by a burst of tiny blasts, the worker said. But medical officials could not find evidence of themunitions because the wounds were so badly infected, the worker said. Then, in late March or early April, a man came in with a wound in his lower leg. After the medical staff cleaned the wound, they discovered a small unexploded bomblet from cluster munitions wedged into it, the worker said. The staff amputated the man’s leg below the knee, then took it, along with the bomb still inside and threw itinto an empty field because there was no safe way to dispose of it, the worker said. A photograph provided to the AP showed a lateral gash in a man’s leg just below the knee with a greenishmetal cylinder embedded in the tissue. Technical experts shown the photo said they were unable to tell whether or not it was a bomblet.
RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press
 The only definite means of confirming the existence and subsequent use of these weapons in Sri Lanka will be to produce legitimate, authenticated images of unexploded sub-munitions or Bomb casings from anexploded or unexploded Cluster Bomb.
 As of yet, no such imagery has surfaced from Sri Lanka
. This statement provides the backdrop for the following technical analysis piece.
Since the release of the ‘Cluster Bomb’ story by the Associated Press, the days following this event saw themushrooming of a series of articles, many appearing online, exploring/debating this phenomenon. Onearticle in particular, appearing on the Groundviews website, titled:
Cluster bombs in Sri Lanka: From denial todiscovery 
, attempted to corroborate the Ravi Nessman/Associated Press story using pictorial evidence fromthe online website, TamilNet.
 There have been a number of reports in web media in particular on the use of cluster bombs. Coincidentally,in a report published on 21 March 2012 on Tamilnet.com, which is blocked in Sri Lanka, it is reported that
“a container allegedly deployed by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) to carry cluster bomblets has been recovered recently by the de- miners of the humanitarian de-mining agency Halo Trust near a house at Thiruvaiuyaa’ru, 3 km east of Ki’linochchi town” 
. APDF copy of the story, which also contains an image of the cluster bomb container, can be seen here.
 In January 2009, the same website carried images of cluster bombs allegedly dropped by the Sri Lankan Airforce in Mullaitivu. A PDF copy of the story, along with images, can be seen here.
 This analysis piece will demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that none of the images shown on the TamilNet website, or any of the ancillary pieces of evidence used by the website as alleged proof showing the use of Cluster Bombs by the SLAF, are in fact Cluster Bombs or effects caused by Cluster munitions.Furthermore, the use of such imagery by the Groundviews team as evidence to implicate the Sri Lankan Armed Forces for using Cluster Bombs represents a serious transgression on the part of an organisationthat claims to represent media impartiality in Sri Lanka. The issue pertains to the misleading use of pictorial evidence to misrepresent the truth about the use of Cluster Bombs by the Sri Lankan ArmedForces.
 Timeline of TamilNet Cluster Bomb claims
On the 30
of November 2008, 3 days before 92 countries signed a treaty banning the use of ClusterMunitions in Oslo; the Pro-LTTE online news site, TamilNet.com, released the following article:
 The article was accompanied with the following pictures (below), alleging to be the remains of the empty casing from a Cluster Bomb, and was cited as being definite evidence that the SLAF routinely employ Cluster Bombs in its bombing raids. Then again on the 24
of December 2008, the same news site published the following article with theattached picture as further evidence of the SLAF’s use of Cluster Bombs:

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