Media and the suffering of the Tamil people
Posted on July 14th, 2011

By Noel Nadesan Courtesy Daily Mirror

As a Tamil domiciled in Australia I served the Tamil community by editing the only Tamil community newspaper, UTHAYAM. I ran it for 14 years My experiences in dealing with the Tamil community, both in Australia and in Sri Lanka, make me feel sad about the callous way in which the media is exploiting the suffering of our Tamil people for self-serving ends. I think I could speak as an independent voice with no allegiances to the politics of either community or political parties. My main concern has been to help our Tamils in Sri Lanka who had to face the brunt of all attacks from the Indians soldiers, Sri Lankan forces and, above all, the so-called Tamil liberators, the LTTE. I have just completed building a small hospital in the island of Eluvaitivu, in which I grew up and, sooner or later, I plan to go back to serve our Tamil people who are desperately in need of help.

It is against this background that I thought of forwarding my comments to you after viewing the re-broadcast of Channel 4 programme, The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka. I must confess I felt depressed and I could not sleep that night. I have recovered since then and I feel I must send you my comments for your consideration because I feel that you aired it to exploit the suffering of our people whose need of the hour is not to rake up the bloody past but to find a way out of the past.

I fail to see how your programme could help the victims of the war “”…” if that was your intention “”…” when their immediate and long-term needs are to regain a future free from these. The sensationalism certainly may help the ratings of Channel 4 and ABC but how will it help our people?

Our people who lived through the horrors of the futile war know that this is only one side of the story. Our Tamil leaders have informed the world that the LTTE has killed more Tamils than all the other forces “”…” Indian, Sri Lankan and rival Tamil parties “”…” put together. The moralizings of the media lacks credibility because our people who lived through the horrors of the war know who killed whom in what manner. Leaving aside the die-hard partisans, our people know that the LTTE was a cruel and beastly outfit they had never encountered in living memory “”…” and do not want to encounter in all their lives to come.

Undoubtedly, there are Tamils who are jubilant about this broadcast because they are aligned politically to the side (i.e., the LTTE) that perpetrated the worst crimes against the Tamils. If Channel 4 produced a film of the atrocities committed by the LTTE against their own people and the other communities throughout the 33-year-old war “”…” the longest running in Asia “”…” it would shock the world beyond belief.

Then there is the documented story of Velupillai Prabhakaran herding nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians to serve as his human shield when he was retreating. In the last stages he shot the Tamils who were running away from him into the arms of the Sri Lankan forces who were commended or their humanitarian services by the Ban Ki-moon’s expert panel and even by Gordon Weiss. Any Tamil who was in Prabhakaran’s human shield will tell you that the Sri Lankan force treated them humanely than the LTTE cadres. 

The atrocities committed by the LTTE are numerous. Why didn’t Channel 4 balance their story with the other side? Yes, there were passing references to LTTE atrocities but you will agree that the blame was put entirely on the Sri Lankan government. Is this fair journalism? 

It was a controversial document in which the best of experts disagreed on the authenticity and the accuracy of the contents. For instance, Channel 4 showed images of a young man who was tied to a tree, threatened with a knife and subsequently killed. I was told by sources in the Wanni that this was an LTTE operation and pictures were taken for propaganda purposes by LTTE. Have a close look and you will find among the so-called soldiers a man in slippers. Sri Lankan soldiers never go about in slippers when they go out on operations. 

Those who know both sides of the story were appalled by your decision to air a partisan video. Despite occasional references to the LTTE the main thrust of the video was to blame the Sri Lankan government. You were aware of this gross distortion and you went ahead because it fitted into your biased political agenda. As stated by the London Sunday Times, it was shoddy journalism unworthy of a reputed media institution like the ABC.

Take the case of Suthanthirapuram which was declared as the first No-Fire Zone for the civilians. The LTTE moved their radio station and artillery unit to fire at Army points from NFZ. They were also firing at the advancing army from close proximity to the hospital or make-shift hospital. The AGA Parthipan and Dr Shanmugaraja can confirm this. I will quote another incident. When former EROS leader Balakumar and his family , who worked with LTTE for many years, tried to flee in a boat in Mullaitivu in 29th April   2009, the LTTE, knowing very well who he was, fired at them. His young daughter was critically injured and the bullets tore her forearm. Her hand is yet to heal.

 These are facts
 How do I know all this? I travelled Sri Lanka seven times last two  years widely in war zones in Wanni and talked to the victims who were trapped in the war zones. They knew that they were targeted both sides and they could not comprehend why the LTTE should expose to retaliatory fire in the NFZ. They could not understand why the LTTE turned the NFZ into a war zone. 

The agents of LTTE in the Tamil diaspora also shed a lot of crocodile tears about the 300,000 IDPs. They described the IDP camps as concentration camps. Knowing the general conditions under which Sri Lankans live I can assure you that the conditions of the Tamils, particularly in the  in the IDP camps, were far superior to the slums of Colombo or even the conditions of the Sinhala villagers and hill country Tamils in remote areas.

Even the Tamil MPs of Tamil Nadu and Indian journalists who visited the camps were convinced that the Sri Lankan authorities had done a very good job under trying conditions. Besides a comparison with the manner in which the government treated the Sinhala JVP rebels who took up arms in 1971 will reveal that the LTTErs received far better treatment than the JVPers. Most of them were incarcerated for more than four years. 

However, I wish to emphasize that at this stage the government has to accept responsibility for their share of the civilian casualties and apologise for that and compensate the next of kin. In calling for justice it is fair and just to hold the leaders in the Tamil expatriate groups who financed, lobbied, and gave moral and material support to the LTTE to prolong their futile war. They too are liable for aiding and abetting a banned terrorist group. Justice demands that these leaders, posing as human rights activists in Western bases, too should be tried  for the crimes committed by the LTTE against their own people.

On balance, it must be conceded that the elimination of the ruthless LTTE outfit was commendable. What Prabhakaran did to Sri Lanka was 100 time worse that Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden did to America. Like America any democratic country had the right to eliminate threats to its sovereignty, peace and stability, transgressing, if necessary, international humanitarian law and international law. 

India did it in Punjab and continues to do so in Kashmir. Russians did it in Chechnya. NATO allies are doing the same thing in Libya. America has done it in their war against Al Quaeda since 9/11.

At the end of it all Sri Lankan Tamils now realise that their destiny is inextricably linked with Sri Lanka and Sinhala people. Violence is not the way out. It was the LTTE who sought the military solution and started the war- they have reaped the bloody harvest they sowed. Now we must genuinely commit themselves to the paths of peace, reconstruction and rehabilitation because violence will not lead anywhere except to the destruction of the remaining Tamils in the north and the east.

Dr. Noel Nadesan is Editor
of the UTHAYAM.

8 Responses to “Media and the suffering of the Tamil people”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Everything is acceptable except:

    “However, I wish to emphasize that at this stage the government has to accept responsibility for their share of the civilian casualties and apologise for that and compensate the next of kin.”

    May I emphasize that the government should NOT accept ANY responsibility for ANY civilian casualties. And there is absolutely no need to apologise.

    This is a very cunning way to obtain a legally admissible “admission” or a “confession” as regards civilian casualties. There is no other way to prove civilian casualties. Government should not fall into this trap.

    All civilian casualties were caused due to LTTE exploiting the NFZ and using human shields. There is nothing wrong with the government troops and there is no need to apologize for the crimes of the LTTE.

    Nadesan has come a long way from foolish Tamils who still thinks confrontation is the solution. But he has an equally long way to go to fully shed what’s left over from the remains of centuries of communal politics. Drop the demand to ACCEPT responsibility for civilian casualties and the APOLOGY and you are as good as a good Sri Lankan. Not otherwise. Very sorry to say this but this is the reality. Sri Lankan security forces are not responsible in any way for civilian casualties as they followed a ZERO CIVILIAN CASUALTIES policy. Any civilian casualties were caused by LTTE acts and due to the failure of moderate Tamils to speak up during the last stages of the war.

  2. AnuD Says:

    It is in the Tamil Psyche that they never remember or remind what they did and they neverf intend to apologize for what they did.

    Do they feel anyv remorse for killing inoocent civilians and children by suicide bombers and child soldiers ?

    But, they talk about apologies for what ever happened by what ever means irrespective of what they did.

    LTTE were tamils and itt is the Tamils who took tamils as hiostages and used tamils in every kind of very brutal violent activitieis.

    Sri Lankan Army had to get rid of those ?

    How do you think, just any other army in the world would have done that.

    Would you expect any other army in the world to do a better job ?

  3. Ramanie Says:

    I appalud Lorenzo and AnuD on their very pertinent remarks! Although Mr Nadesan is gold compared to the other Tamils who are either carrying the can for LTTE or keeping mum on all the atrocities committed over 30 years and on all the abominable lies that are being used to persecute Sri Lanka by those who carry the can for LTTE – he still is very very far from the TRUTH! Starting with the well traversed theme of “suffering of Tamil people” as if the non-Tamils did not and do not suffer from the racism and terrorism chosen by the LTTE to achieve very selfish ends in the name of Tamils, Mr Nadesan is way off the mark suggesting that SL Govt apologises and compensates killed ‘civilians’- what is the bet Mr Nadesan means only the Tamils killed by the use of the term ‘civilians’.

    Is Mr Nadesan suggesting that SLG apologises and compensates the ‘civilians’ (meaning LTTE cadres in plain clothes and Bata slippers) killed by the SLG while the nonTamils killed by LTTE get sweet nothing?!!!!!!

    Is that justice?

  4. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Dr. Noel Nadesan !

    YOU ARE A SON OF A VERY NOBLE TAMIL LADY, WHO BROUGHT YOU FORTH INTO THIS WORLD, TO ENLIGHTEN THE TAMIL COMMUNITY, TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS TO BE HUMAN. AND HOW TO LIVE LIKE HUMAN BEINGS. SO LIVE UPTO IT.

    We appreciate your courage to come out with the atrocities committed by the LTTE. Nevertheless, as Lorenzo says, why should the Government accept responsibility for their share of the civilian casualties, and apologise for that, and compensate the next of kin. You have very decietfully and wilfully masked the civilian casualties caused by the LTTE, in killing civilians in shopping centers, Trains, in the City, in Buses, in Villages, In Temples, In Mosques, in places of worship, and many other places too numerous to put on print. THESE PEOPLE WHO DIED ARE ALSO CIVILIANS, WHO DIED FOR NO REASON AT ALL, IN CIVILIAN AREAS AWAY FROM THE WAR ZONE. I REPEAT, THESE ARE ALL CIVILIANS WHO DIED FOR NO REASON.

    THE CONTEXT OF YOUR AFORESAID, DISCERNING WRITE UP, SHOULD RECEIVE INTERNATIONAL PUBLICITY.

    Hence please may I make some suggestions to you, Dr. Nadesan

    A) You better tell your damning low caste Tamil LTTE Diaspora in UK, USA, NORWAY, ITALY, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, NEDERLANDS, FRANCE, and other cities around the world, to APOLOGISE to Sri Lanka, and COMPENSATE all those families who lost their loved ones, and those who were maimed by being complicit to a reign of murderous terror, by heavily providing Funds to do so.

    B) You better write personally to all the Heads of the aforesaid countries, and to any other country you may deem fit, to round up the Rump LTTE Leaders, including the self appointed TAMIL POMPOUS JACKASS OF A PRIME MINISTER IN USA, to seize their assets, and transfer them to the Sri Lanka Central Bank, for payments to be made to the victims of LTTE ATROCITIES. Be the Son and a gentleman of your worthy noble mother. Do it. Do it.

    C) You better write personally to the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, to forward your write up to all the SRI LANKAN EMBASSIES AROUND THE WORLD, and to give it due publicity in those countries.

    D) Please do not forget the Vultures out for Sri Lankan Blood, vis-a-vis Banki Moon, and his pet dogs in the Darrussman Kennels, The Megabands, those two Tamil Females in the UN, that Virago Jayalalitha, and ofcourse the man with that mellifluous smile, Prime Minister Manmohansingh. Just put in an extra word, requesting them not to harrass beautiful Sri Lanka, in view of your exposure of Tamil LTTE Brutalities, hitherto not known to them, or their refusing to see them.

    E) Finally, come and speak to KP, find out all the BANK ACCOUNTS, of those LTTE RATS who are having LTTE FUNDS, in the International arena, and inform those Heads of the Countries to freeze them, and as suggested earlier, transfer them to Cental Bank of Sri Lanka.

    YOU WILL BE A MAN DR. NOEL NADESAN, YOU WILL BE A MAN. DO IT. DO IT.

  5. dhane Says:

    Dr. Noel Nadesan your writing is acceptable to some extend. In your article you admit what Americans did to Bin Laden is acceptable. So then Sri Lankan Government also has the full authority like any other democratic country had the right to eliminate threats to its sovereignty, peace and stability, transgressing, if necessary, international humanitarian law and international law. There is no apologise needed by SL Govt: SL Govt: did its duty. Anyway thanks for the comments made “What Prabhakaran did to Sri Lanka was 100 time worse that Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden did to America” So let Tamil Diaspora open their eyes at least NOW.

  6. love_lanka Says:

    I hear that Melbourne Vet Mr Nadesan is called as “dog Nadesan” among the Tamils and he has no respect within the community.

    So don’t be hard on him and give this poor chap some respect and support.

  7. thurai Says:

    Dear love_lanka,

    Do you mind Diaspora´s decision are correct to decide a persons is right or wrong? They called LTTE chief is
    Sun God. Is it correct?. Why do you mix the matter with Diaspora Tamil hier. We all try hier to find out the persons who aginst Sri Lanka and fight against such enemies only. We must change our mind to
    help each others without any discrimination and peaceful life for all Sri lankan communities.

  8. siddharht14 Says:

    The Indian Tamil politicians, especially the tamil tigers are using LTTE & Prabhakaran for their personal benefit. They havent helped their own people and are not capable to helping Sri Lankan Tamils. Please dont take them seriously, they are mere jokers who own media channels that would telecast their political agendas.

    I had visited Colombo, felt proud to see Tamil signages across the city, museum, airport etc. Karunanidhi’s own companies are named in English, their family well versed in Hindi.

    Dear people of Sri Lanka, our politicians are useless and we dont have a choice. Dont let them make decisions for you. Wish you a better future from here.

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