bid to ‘divide and rule’
Posted on March 19th, 2012

Written by  Arthur Wamanan, Sandun Jayawardana The Nation

The documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished”, was aired by Britain’s Channel 4 on Wednesday (14). The documentary is a follow-up to last year’s controversial documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”. The new documentary, made by the same team reiterates accusations on “War Crimes” during the latter stages of the conflict. It also makes new accusations on Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself to indiscriminate killings of civilians and summary executions of captured LTTE fighters. The film was released at a time when Sri Lanka finds itself battling a resolution the United States has brought before the UNHRC in Geneva. In light of such developments, The Nation contacted several individuals to take their comments.

No negative impact: Hulugalle

Director General of the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), Lakshman Hulugalle, said the latest Channel 4 video did not have much of a negative impact as expected.Speaking to The Nation, Hulugalle said the Sri Lankan government and the delegation in Geneva had been successful in convincing several countries of the biased nature of the video and of the actual situation prevalent in the country.”The delegation is handling the situation very well. We have succeeded in convincing a lot of countries of our stance and the actual manner in which the humanitarian operation was carried out,” he said.
“We have fought the most ruthless terrorist organisation, which was banned in many countries including USA and UK. Today, these very countries are acting in a way beneficial to the LTTE groups abroad,” he said. “The LTTE was banned because it was identified as a terrorist organisation by these countries and not as a group struggling for a cause,” he added. He also said that most of the independent countries would back Sri Lanka on this issue.Further, Hulugalle said that the government would continue to reveal the terror faced by the people due to the LTTE. “But, we will not release such evidence as a response to the Channel 4 video.”

Video biased: Dr Rupesinghe

Founder and Current Chairman, Foundation for Coexistence (FCO) and Human Rights activist, Dr Kumar Rupesinghe said the Channel 4 was being biased as it did not highlight the atrocities of the LTTE.He said the LTTE had committed grave crimes against its own people and other communities that were not highlighted by any of the Channel 4 videos.

He said the countries needed to understand the context in which the war was carried out when accusing Sri Lanka of war crimes. “The LTTE deliberately took the entire people with them to a tiny strip of land. They placed their guns amidst the people,” he said. “The atrocities committed by the LTTE are a litany of terror.”

He also said the UN Council should not be influenced by the Channel 4 video.
In addition, Rupesinghe said Sri Lanka had no option but to respond to the resolution brought by the USA. He said that he hoped the country would spell out the method through which it would sought to implement the long, short and medium term plans based on the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

UK’s media neo-colonialism: Dr Dayan J

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Geneva, Dr Dayan Jayatileka, said the documentary was part of a neo-colonialist effort of the British media to practice the “ƒ”¹…”divide and rule’ policy of British colonialism which actually created the ethnic problem in the first place.

“This film is one-sided, subjective, unprofessional and blatantly propagandist. It is an attempt to win the war of world opinion, the battle of narratives, so that the wounds of Sri Lanka never heal, traumatic memories never fade, hatreds and enmities are re-kindled, and the conditions are created to reverse Sri Lanka’s victory over the Tigers. It helps to create the psychological, ideological and diplomatic space for the Tamil Eelam project,” he said. Jayatileka said while he could not dismiss every photograph and piece of footage as counterfeit, as in the first Channel 4 film, “the visuals do not bear out the accompanying narrative. They do not prove the near-hysterical charges”.

Regarding the view that a democratic government cannot compare itself to the level of a terrorist organisation and must adhere to higher standards with regard to human rights, Jayatileka said this was indeed true, and the standards of conduct of the Sri Lankan armed forces taken as a whole, were indeed higher than those demonstrated by the Tigers throughout thirty years of war. He pointed to the LTTE’s massacres in Habarana and Arantalawa as just two examples of the Tigers’ brutality which the West has not spoken of.

He also claimed the West was being “selective and hypocritical” when it makes the point about standards of conduct. Jayatileka pointed to the firebombing of the city of Dresden by the Allies in World War II, and the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also pointed to the US’s recent actions in Fallujah, Iraq, where the number of non-combatant casualties was very high. “Where is the accountability for those deaths? What of international law?” he queried.

When questioned as to how Sri Lanka could be affected if the resolution is passed at the UNHRC, Jayatileka said he was still hopeful that it will not come to that. “If however, the resolution were to pass in its present form and with its present content, it would mean that an invisible noose has been thrown around Sri Lanka and its armed forces, and that noose will be tightened,” he warned.

clear political agenda: Pradeep

Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the Sri Jayawardenapura University, Anuruddha Pradeep, said from the timing and content of this documentary, it was clear that it had a political agenda.  He also said Western media outlets have a habit of glorifying their own wars and singling out the wars of other countries for criticism.

“The documentary I watched was unedited and showed advertisements for other Channel 4 programmes. One such programme apparently details an air raid conducted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Falklands War. This is advertised as the most daring raid of the entire war. It clearly glorifies the RAF. We have seen the same thing time and again, even in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, where actions of US and British units are glorified by outlets such as CNN, BBC, and even Channel 4 itself,” Pradeep said.

He added most Western media outlets do not show the human cost of the wars their countries are engaged in.  “They have no qualms about showing civilian deaths in our conflicts. However, most of the time, when they report civilian deaths in wars their countries engaged in, they only come out as figures and statistics. These do not have the same impact as images of human suffering,” he pointed out. Regarding how Sri Lanka could tackle this particular issue, Pradeep said Sri Lanka should look to Cuba as an example.

“The country has been subjected to more attempts at regime change by the US than any other nation, yet it has managed to outlast them all. This is because Cuba has remained undivided and because it has managed to maintain its good name internationally,” he said.

One Response to “bid to ‘divide and rule’”

  1. S de Silva Says:

    So what should be our plan “B” in case SL loses at the UNHRC in addition to following Cuba?? Thoughts of all are eargently needed on a possible course to minimise the consequences while India is made to pay in some way – S de SIlva – London

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