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Saturday, 2 July 2011

Channel Four and Killing Fields in Rajarata

Channel Four has done it again. Two years after the Nandikadal defeat of the LTTE, the infamous channel has come out with another footage on the so called killing fields in Sri Lanka. It is said that the Sri Lankan Army had been involved in war crimes during the last stages of the humanitarian operations and so many innocent Tamils had been killed while Tamil women had been raped. Channel Four has taken two years to produce this footage and may be few more videos are being prepared to release in the near future.

It is well known that the LTTE made use of three hundred thousand innocent people as a human shield during the last stages of the operations and the Sri Lankan government took a long time to defeat the LTTE as it did not want to cause any harm to the innocent Tamils. Unlike the Americans and the other westerners (especially NATO) who bomb innocent civilians in Libya, Afghanistan and other countries Sri Lankan armed forces did not resort to any such actions against humanity.

The question naturally arises as to why the Sri Lankan armed forces waited till the last stage of the humanitarian operations to engage in these so called mass killings. An army that had behaved as an exemplary military had apparently decided to turn into vultures all of a sudden towards the end. How did it happen? Why did the armed forces behave so only during the last stages? Do the western pundits have answers to these questions? Almost all the people who were held as a human shield by the LTTE have been resettled now and I am sure that these people would give the correct picture of what had happened during the last stages of the operations.

Killing Fields is a hackneyed expression of the western scriptwriters and other such pundits and they very often use it in reference to so called war crimes committed by non westerners. The Killing Fields due to the westerners are easily forgotten as they are the people who dominate the news media in the world, and also since the west has established its hegemony in creation and distribution of knowledge in general.

The Killing Fields of the west are not confined to battle fields. The multinationals control everything, and in Sri Lanka and in the rest of the so called third world, a term used by the westerners, there are so many other killing fields. The killing fields in the Rajarata area where more than twenty thousand people have died due to what is known as Rajarata Chronic Kidney Disease Unidentified Etiology (RCKD Un et) is only one example. There are some pundits in Sri Lanka who object to the terminology RCKD claiming that such patients are found in other places such as Girandurukotte and Dehiaththakandiya outside the Rajarata area. The disease is called RCKD simply because the vast majority of the patients due to it are from Rajarata area.

Rajarata and other affected areas are also killing fields although Channel Four is not interested in making a movie on RCKD. For almost twenty years the cause of the disease was not known and that was the reason why Un Et had to be tagged on to the name of the disease. As I have explained in recent articles the group at Kelaniya University that study various aspects of the disease is ninety nine percent confident that the disease is due to Arsenic found in agrochemicals and mainly in pesticides. It has to be mentioned contrary to the view expressed by some scientists Arsenic is not found naturally in Sri Lankan soil and our studies with soil from Rajarata areas have confirmed this. Arsenic is found only up to a depth of about six to eight feet and the patterns are clearly indicative of introduction of Arsenic from the top of the soil.

We tested for Arsenic not only in the soil of Rajarata but in flora as well. Arsenic was found in rice as well and naturally we divulged these facts at a number of seminars and workshops held with learned scientists from universities. No objections were raised at these learned gatherings, and it cannot be said that our findings are not in the public domain as such. I of course have a different attitude to publishing in so called peer reviewed prestigious journals, though most of the members of our group do not endorse my views. Though I have a few papers published in international journals, including two papers in Nature in my younger days, for the last twenty five years after I broke away (my abhinishkramanya or renunciation) from western science in particular and western knowledge in general, I publish all my original ideas in The Island, Divaina and Vidusara all of which happen to be Upali Publications. I value these articles more than my papers in the so called prestigious journals, as they contain better original ideas, though the Sri Lankan Universities and the pundits therein do not recognize them as research papers and no points are given for them. However, our group did not publish their methods in so called refereed journals, not because they are not interested in having a paper or two in their names, but for the reason that they got the ideas through “unconventional methods” including Bhavana, and they were not sure as to whether the ideas belonged only to them. Anyhow now they have resolved the problem, and they would submit their papers to the standard journals.

There were lot of obstacles to our research even from the University itself and the opposition was led by a lady who has vested interests and who still goes around agitating against our research. We overcame these in the University but now all these elements including various government officials have got together to engage in a vicious campaign against us. It appears that they have gone to the highest levels but we will carry on with our work in the interests of the general public. We were mainly interested in the RCKD and did tests for Arsenic only in the relevant material. Rice was also tested and we found Arsenic in that substance but did not want to make a big fuss over it. Of course, we did not test bread or wheat flour or apples or imported butter as we were concerned with how Rajarata has been affected by pesticides. The fact that we did not test for Arsenic in imported food items does not mean that we are promoting them as against local products including rice. Only a crooked mind of an official who wants to survive at any cost can accuse us of a conspiracy against the country and our economy. These officials were not anywhere near during the last twenty five years or so when we fought against the most deadliest terrorists on a theoretical plane. We are happy to inform all of them that we would be testing for bread as well as ponac very soon as some of them may be interested in the Arsenic content of the latter.

The Registrar of Pesticides in a recent article to “The Island” on the “Arsenic Upheaval” claims that we did not submit our results to him even after repeated requests. It is true that we did not submit our results as it is not our policy to do so. We presented our results at a meeting held with the Minster of Agriculture where the RoP was also present and he cannot say that he is totally unfamiliar with our conclusions. The RoP has the luxury to hind behind the relevant acts and regulations and, it appears that until we raised the issue he (or his predecessors) has either issued licenses or recommended issuing them simply by going through the application to import pesticides and accepting the declarations of the importers. Apparently he has not taken steps to test for various chemicals including Arsenic and only after the Arsenic Upheaval according to the PoR, he has sent some samples to the ITI which has submitted a report to him. It has to be mentioned that when the University of Kelaniya sent some samples to the ITI to test for Arsenic it declined to do so claiming that one of their employees fainted as a result of testing. We hope that nobody fainted this time but we are not in agreement with their recent findings. It has to be brought to the notice of the public that it is not only the group at Kelaniya that has got positive results and the Sri Lanka customs when they decided to retain some of the containers they had other evidence as well regarding presence of Arsenic and also Mercury in pesticides.

The RoP depends only on the readings of the ITI and I do not know how much it agrees with the so called scientific method to come to conclusions only on the results of one institute how much it is “internationally recognized”. In any event one cannot say that Arsenic is not present in pesticides that one has not tested and all that one can say is that according to the method one has adopted Arsenic is present in certain quantities in the samples that have been tested. At Kelaniya we did not stick to the instructions given in the text books and the journals on testing for Arsenic as we modified the methods. If somebody requests we are prepared to give them the methods and alternatively we are prepared to allow them to come to our laboratories and test for Arsenic with us using our methods.

The killing fields in Rajarata, we claim are due to the Agrochemicals imported from the west, and the channel four could shoot a film on this tragedy if they are so humanitarian. More than twenty thousand innocent people have already died and the government should consider the feasibility of asking the relevant companies to pay compensation to the affected families as well as to the country, and introducing alternative methods of farming to the farmers without sticking to western farming with its nasty consequences.(2011/06/22)

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva