Hypocrisy of international media and ground realities
Posted on July 12th, 2009

by Ranil WIJAYAPALA   courtesy Sunday Observer

The final stages of the battle to eliminate the LTTE has once again become a hot topic in the media, especially in the international media this week after the five Tamil doctors, who are now under the detention of the Criminal Investigation Department, made fresh statements before the media about the civilian casualties denying their earlier accounts on civilian casualties saying that they had exaggerated the figures under LTTE pressure.

The exposure of the five doctors to the media nearly two months after their arrest is being questioned by the media in same manner they questioned the arrest of those doctors on their arrival in the Government controlled areas during the last few days of the final battle fought in Mullaivaikkal in mid May.

In fact, the five doctors whether it is under the pressure of the LTTE or not, had done a great service to civilians trapped inside the No Fire Zone who have been left with no other medical facilities except for the ICRC presence there.

Any human being on this earth would appreciate their great service rendered to the innocent civilians who were in grave danger at the last stages of the battle. Therefore, it should be accepted, despite their allegiance they have done their duty by the people as doctors, more importantly as doctors who have been benefitted from the free education system of the country since they all have graduated from the Medical Faculty of the Jaffna University.

But the prevailing circumstances inside the safe zone had compelled them to go against the ethics of their profession, with the statement they made to the media especially to a selected international media, about the civilian casualties.

Now they say they had to lie about the civilian deaths under the pressure of the LTTE, must not be forget most ruthless terror outfit existed in this earth who would do anything against humanity to achieve their goal. The five doctors are no exception as the LTTE was able to forcibly keep 300,000 people for months without allowing them to flee from the safe zone. Dr. Ilananchelian the Medical Officer of Health, Mullaitivu who was put in LTTE cell when he attempted to flee the area was It is true that they made all these statements about the civilian casualties whilst serving in the LTTE controlled area and as Tamil doctors they may have links with the LTTE like other ordinary Tamils in the country. Therefore, we can justify their action being biased to the LTTE and giving the statements the LTTE wanted them to give to the media, under the circumstances they had to live.

But, considering the enormous damage caused to the Government and the Security Forces due to their statements given to the media, the Government and the Security Forces also have a right to investigate whether the statements they have given to the media were true or not as they have said thousands of civilians have been killed due to shelling of the Security Forces into the No Fire Zone.

If the statements they had given to media were serious enough for some international organizations to propose to charge the Sri Lankan Government on War Crimes and Violation of Human Rights, the Sri Lankan Government also has a right to probe into their statements irrespective of their medical profession on their arrival in Government controlled areas.

A responsible Government cannot let them scot free, after making such allegations against the Security Forces and the Government which had provide chances for many organizations given the context, that the proxies of the LTTE is still exist internationally and they can make many other controversial statements if they are allowed to have links with them.

Therefore, it is incumbent on the Government to conduct proper investigations about their statements going through the legal procedure according to the law of this country. The Security Forces and the Criminal Investigation Department had followed the normal legal procedure of the country in the process of questioning those doctors. No one cannot challenge the arrest of the five Dr.

Sathyamoorthy, Dr. Shanmugaraja, Dr. Ilancheliyan, Dr. Sivapalan and Dr. Thurairaja as it had been done according to normal legal procedure of the country keeping them under detention orders to investigate about their statements.

According to the five doctors, who had close interaction with the media at the press conference held at the auditorium of the Media Centre for National Security, what the investigators wanted from them was the interactions they had with the LTTE for a fairly a long period exceeding more than five years in some cases and to investigate on what basis they had given those statements to the media.

Two doctors Dr. Sivapalan and Dr.Thurairaja are admitting they had worked for the LTTE Medical Corps while Dr. Satyamoorthy admits the fact that he was an office bearer of the Centre for Healthcare in Kilinochchi which was administered by the LTTE and funded by the Tamil Diaspora. Therefore, the CID has a basis to investigate their links with the LTTE before they are released.

Some media had stated that the statements they made at the press briefing were exactly the version they had predicted earlier as the five doctors said that the civilian deaths were much lower than what they had stated to the media they were inside the No Fire Zone.

It was ten times lower than the civilian deaths (7,000) estimated by the United Nations and more than 20 times lower than the estimated figure of deaths (20,000) given by the Times based on so-called investigations they had done through the aerial photographs (what an expert !) on the No Fire Zone. The five doctors said that the civilian deaths were around 700 to 750 from the month of January to May although they had earlier stated that thousands of civilians were killed due to shelling of the Security Forces.

The fact here is that they never tell that no civilian deaths had occurred during the last stages of the battle. They admit the fact that the civilians have been caught in the cross fire as they had been left with narrow stretch of land for their survival and the LTTE too was operating inside it.

They also revealed that many of the civilian deaths were caused due to explosion of shell loaded trucks of the LTTE.

At the same time it should be noted that it was due to the suicide bombers, which had been used by the LTTE as a tool to stop civilians escaping into the military controlled areas , many civilians got killed as they fled the LTTE controlled area.

The doctors have also revealed the way the LTTE had grabbed the medical supplies sent by the Government for Government hospitals for the use of civilians causing shortage of medical supplies for the civilians and food.

At last they had admitted the fact that it was due to the action of the LTTE the Tamil people had to suffer and they were forced to lie to the world about the civilian casualties whether it was under the pressure or not but whilst undergoing legal procedures of the country, in which the Court had to give its final verdict on them but not by a ruthless terror outfit.

But the international media still reluctant to accept the statements they had given to the media this time as independent statements although they were not worried about the authenticity of their statements whilst living in the LTTE controlled areas. That is clear display of hypocrisy of certain international media who had hair splitting arguments that the victory achieved by the Sri Lankan Security Forces was over the deaths of thousands of civilians and committing war crimes.

Therefore, they are not ready accept any of the eye witnesses account which go against their assumptions.

Not only on this issue, the Times of UK has once again come out with yet another controversial report saying that 1,400 deaths reports from the welfare camps in Menik Farm with a catchy headline “ƒ”¹…” Tamil death toll “ƒ”¹…”is 1,400 a week’ at Menik Farm Camp in Sri Lanka. The news report has been quoted by many international media without any verification from any Sri Lankan authority just quoting aid agencies.

It was not known whether they were aware the seriousness of their report having said 1,400 deaths are being reported from Menik Farm a week.

That means that the authorities in charge of these welfare villages witnessing 200 deaths a day meaning that they have to conduct 200 funerals daily basis.

The most strange thing is that even the local media and international media visiting those welfare camps have not witness such a situation there in the welfare camps which surprisingly noted by an unknown aid worker.

We journalist in Sri Lanka even the foreign correspondents in Sri Lanka should be shameful of their profession if they had failed to notice about this, if people are dying in such a rate inside the welfare camps. Even the Hindu newspaper of India of which the Chief Editor visited those camps very recently had published this report in its online edition quoting the report published in timesonline.uk.

If there a truth in this report, there should be a drastic drop in the number of civilians living in those camps within weeks if deaths reports at the rate of 1,400 a week. But such thing has not been reported by any official concern even the Vavuniya Government Agent who is frequently visiting those camps.

Surprisingly, the UN agencies who are closely monitoring the health conditions of the displaced civilians whilst closely working with the Government officials had not make notice of this situation since it is certainly a dangerous situation to cope up with. The relevant officials are now going through their reports to come out with the actual number of deaths inside those camps within the last two months to come out with the correct situation in response to the diabolical lies appeared in those so-called media. Certainly the number would be hundred times lower than the figure given in that report.

It was not surprising to note that these false media reports are emerging after the Government request from INGOs to scale down their operations in Sri Lanka as there no requirement for them to have their offices as there is no conflict in Sri Lanka at present. It was the ICRC which had first responded deciding to close two of their offices in Trincomalee district, according to media reports.

The international media is trying to take each and every decision taken by the Government to bring normalcy to the North East as a step to cover up the situation in the country claiming that Sri Lanka wants to execute its plans without any witnesses. Even they try to charge that the last battle against the LTTE was fought without any eye witnesses.

They have easily forgotten the fact that there were 300,000 odd civilians who can give eye witness accounts about the final battle in Puthumattalan and Mullaivaikkal area.

They will very soon able to give their first hand experience about the battle once the Security Forces finalized the process of identifying the Tiger activists among those civilians.

According to Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka from the 10,000 LTTE activists arrested from the civilians 9,000 will subjected to rehabilitation in Government run Rehabilitation centres whilst filing cases against 1,000 odd Tiger cadres responsible for terror acts.

What the international community does not understand is any responsible Government cannot release civilians who were living under a terror administration for decades to the normal society with that much easily.

It is the responsibility of the Government to trace the real terrorists among them and punish them for their terror acts as they are people who are responsible for igniting fire of terrorism in this country putting thousands of lives in danger for decades. It is unfair by the normal peace loving citizen of this country if they are allowed to move freely in the society without punishing them for their crimes committed against humanity.

So there may be immense pressure on the Government until it complete that process which takes long period and release them to the society and resettled them in their villages.

But it is for the benefit of the future of this country the Security Forces and the Police and other law enforcement authorities have to complete those procedures without succumbing to pressures exert on them whilst taking steps to strengthen the Security Forces and the Police to take up the future challenges.

It was with the aspect of further strengthening the security in the country the Government took steps to establish Coast Guard Department under the Ministry of Defence replacing the Coast Guard Unit which operated under the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The bill was passed with amendments as the new Department will be assisting the Sri Lankan Navy to prevent illegal emigration/ immigration activities, drug trafficking, contraband and weapons.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickemanayake, introducing the Bill, said that there was an urgent need for such a department to stop illegal activities such as drug trafficking taking place in the Sri Lankan waters.

The necessity of such a department arouse in the aftermath of LTTE’s defeat as a measure to further secure Sri Lanka’s territorial waters, he said. “The Department will prevent illegal fishing and poaching by other nationals in the Sri Lankan maritime zone”, the Premier added.

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