Continued Unfounded, Unsubstantiated, Unprofessional Criticism of Sri Lanka by Channel 4
Posted on August 3rd, 2011

Ira de Silva London, Canada

Mr. Jonathan Miller
Channel 4 News
London, U.K.
 
Dear Mr. Miller:
 
I am writing to you regarding your continued unsubstantiated criticism of Sri Lanka. It seems strange that since the initial airing of the documentary “Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” on June 3,2011 the many discrepancies, falsehoods (blatant lies) and improbable statements made by you were pointed out, there is now an investigation by OFCOM because of the numerous complaints made, yet you persist in your efforts to present further footage of dubious origin and content. It is indicative of mal-intent and unprofessionalism compounded by the fact that Channel 4 continually claims that it has carefully researched the subject, verified the content and that it is presenting it  to the public because it believes the public needs to know. At a time when the British media has been exposed to the world as corrupt and unethical, it appears that Channel 4 believes in furthering this impression with this type of biased, vindictive journalism which does not have any factual basis.  The British public in particular and the rest of the countries to which you are exporting this rubbish need to know that Channel 4 is presenting doctored videos, photographic stills which have been clipped because the full photographs show the camera crew staging  the show, and interviews with people who have been chosen to express views along the lines of what Channel 4 wants. In your documentary  your main “characters” have hidden their true identities which a cursory attempt at fact checking by you would have uncovered. Therefore Channel 4 either did not make any attempt at verification of these people’s statements and background or deliberately chose to ignore the facts. Is that ethical or is Channel 4 another example of British gutter journalism?
 
In your documentary “Killing Fields” some of the more glaring examples of Channel 4 not having checked what they were broadcasting or knowingly broadcast falsehoods to mislead the public are:
 
Inconsistencies in the dates. C 4 first stated that the summary killings took place in January 2009. It was later changed to May 2009. It is ironic that with your fact checking you did not see the inscribed date on the video which is UTC 2009-07-15 13:17:23. In July the war was over so what you broadcast had to be staged.
 
Originally it was said to have been taken by a mobile phone. When it was pointed out that the mobile phones supposed to have been used did not have the capability to record such a video it was then changed to a video camera. Unless you merely broadcast what you were given without any verification, surely your organization would have known the difference.
 
V. Kumar, your star British citizen was a full time LTTE cadre. She was an LTTE activist in the U.K. according to her family in Britain. She arrived in Sri Lanka on 28-2-2008 at the bidding of an LTTE commander code named Castro  where she received weapons training, had a dog tag to prove her membership and even had the trademark cyanide capsule around her neck. She was a member of the LTTE Soodiya Regiment. She came to Sri Lanka and became the local co-ordinator of the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO) and worked in the LTTE media house in Killinochi. Did she lie to you or did you lie to the public?
 
According to your documentary she was a volunteer at the hospital and worked with Dr. Shanmugaraja who she praised for his dedication. She claimed that he performed an amputation on a young boy without anaesthetic which has been emphatically denied by the same doctor. In your efforts at verification did you at least speak to this doctor before you presented this blatant lie to the public? He could be contacted by phone during and after the war. I have heard interviews he gave so it can not be claimed by Channel 4 that they could not speak to him. Even at this late stage, if you believe in even a semblance of the truth, contact him and publish your interview.
 
Gordon Weiss, the other “star” of your documentary claimed 10,000 to 40,000 killed. His original estimate while in Colombo was 7,000 which was refuted the very next day by the U.N. itself as unreliable. Since that day the number keeps rising without any credible evidence. Of course he had a book to sell called “The Cage”. Interestingly at his book launch in Australia, when he was asked how he arrived at the number of 40,000 etc. he revised it downward! Did you make any attempt to verify his claims or just accept them?
 
As for the T.V. presenter who was made much of perhaps because of the belief that anyone in the media business has an importance above the average civilian, she too was a fighting LTTE cadre in the timeframe of your documentary  with a rank of Lt. Colonel, known to have played a key role in persuading children to undertake suicide missions,. Photo evidence is the identity card issued to her by the LTTE.  
 
   
 
Please note the combat attire which confirms her military involvements with the LTTE – had C4 done even a preliminary investigation,  this fact would have been clear to them. If you did know of it, and still said what you did in the documentary, it not only indicates the bias of   C4 but also indicates that you deliberately set out to publish false information.
 
Your latest story aired last week is perhaps an attempt to counter the shortcomings of your previous  documentary. However it again falls far short of being objective and certainly lacks credibility, showing that once again no research has been done regarding credibility and truth.  In your enthusiasm to condemn Sri Lanka you claim that one “Fernando”, who claims that he was an officer, makes claims of being an eye witness to arbitrary killings and rape. It is interesting that this Fernando’s image is shadowy, and his tale is a “voice over”. One of the comments I saw regarding this aspect was that Fernando speaks better English than most of the army officers  in Sri Lanka! Did he give you his comments in English or was his statement translated?  In your enthusiasm to vilify Sri Lanka did you again fall for a fib and rush to publish without checking the validity of his claims? 
 
Did it never occur to you that if he was an officer in the regiment, it would be very easy for the other officers in that regiment to identify him as well as the others who he claims he saw killing and raping civilians? If he in fact witnessed these atrocities and did nothing to stop it, he himself should be held accountable for that crime. If Channel 4 is so hell bent on pinning war crimes on the Sri Lankan security forces this is a golden opportunity,  release the information so that this Fernando can be questioned, he can identify those who  committed these acts and all of them could be tried for these crimes. That is your responsibility as otherwise you too could be said to be complicit in a cover-up of these same atrocities.
 
If what Channel 4 is presenting has an iota of truth, accept this challenge to provide the background checks taken by you, provide the dates and places where these supposed atrocities took place (Fernando should be able to provide you with this) as well as the number of soldiers involved. If they were in his regiment their names are readily available as well as the names of the other officers who condoned these acts. However to the unbiased viewer it seems incomprehensible that in the heat of battle, in a small area of land with nearly 300,000 people that such acts took place and that people just stood by watching their kith and kin being raped etc. What is known of what took place is the statement of an elected Tamil M.P. who was with these people to the very end and crossed over with them to the  security forces . According to Mr. S. Kanagarathan M.P. no such incidents took place although he does clearly state that the LTTE shot over 600 civilians like stray dogs when they attempted to escape. He has already given an interview via phone to the Asian Tribune. Why have you not contacted him for his eyewitness account? Is it because you are not interested in hearing facts that do not support your views?
  
One final request is that you either air the interview with Major General Shavendra Silva in New York or that you provide a transcript. At a meeting of the Global Tamil Forum in the U.K. in July, much was said about your proposed visit to New York to challenge the Major General and they were full of hope that you would “slay” him. They were really excited that you were taking your message to India too. Nothing has been heard from you although it is reliably learnt that the Major General recorded the interview. Have you disappointed the members of the Global Tamil Forum who placed such trust in your capabilities?
 
Yours truly,
 
Ira de Silva
London, Canada

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