Posted on September 4th, 2021


(Continued from Pt 23 Db)

The Hard talk documentary next featured TNA leader Rajavarothiam Sampantham. This was   very different to the interview with Gotabaya Rajapaksa .The Sampanthan interview was not Hard Talk at all. It was nice and gentle. There was no interrogation. Sampantham was allowed to speak without interruption.  He is shown in heroic mode, filmed in close up, in portrait style,    calmly uttering treasonable statements.

Sampanthan said with reference to Eelam war, that the government had imposed a military victory. That will never be accepted by the Tamil people. What can they do, asked Sackur .Get organized and resist through non violent means, replied Sampanthan.

The present government cannot ram down our throats whatever they wish, continued Sampanthan. Tamils have their rights, dignity etc. Tamils must be allowed to determine their own destiny. Tamils want self government. The North-east should be politically independent.  

Rajavarothiam Sampantham, thank you for being on Hard Talk. Thank you Sir, it has been a great pleasure” said Stephen Sackur, deferentially, at the end of the interview.

Rajiva Wijesinha took part in a Hard Talk interview with Stephen Sackur in July 2011. This interview between Rajiva and Sackur was considered the best performance by a Sri Lankan in response to the charges against Sri Lanka. The Oxford educated Rajiva did not find it difficult to face the Cambridge educated Sackur. Both spoke stylish English. If you wish to communicate [effectively] with any of these BBC or CNN journalists   master your English advised a You Tube watcher.

In this interview Rajiva was able to meet the arguments put forward by Sackur, regarding the Eelam war. Why is the military still all over the place when the war is over, asked Sackur. Because the threat of LTTE is still there said Rajiva.

Rajiva spoke up on behalf of the army.”Of course there were civilian casualties, this happens in any war situation. We have not caused this deliberately, and our record was much better than those counter which pointed fingers at us said Rajiva

.You still don’t know how many civilians were killed said Sackur. Oh yes we do, said Rajiva .We have a very clear idea, it is about 5000 altogether. Nobody accepts that figure, countered Sackur .UN Secretary General says 40,000. UN Secretary General has nothing to do with this, replied Rajiva.

The shelling of civilians was done by Sri Lanka army said Sackur. No, said Rajiva the shelling came from the LTTE. There was definite evidence only of just one shot and the trajectory showed that it came from the LTTE.

The shelling of Pudumatalan hospital came up for discussion. If all the attacks on Putumatalan hospital as given by Tamilnet were true, then the hospital would not be left standing said Rajiva.  . But you admit that     shells did land on hospital, so what is the difference, asked Sackur.  The difference said Rajiva, was between deliberate targeting and accidental fire. Anyway, said Sackur army had no right to fire on a hospital without first informing and closed the subject.

When asked Do you think it important to get the truth of what really happened at the closing phase of Eelam war IV,” Rajiva replied Better stick to fact rather than truth”.  When asked, ‘are you questioning the integrity of the Darusman panel, No said Rajiva, I question their judgment.

Sackur often uses the tactic of cutting off the interviewee whenever the interviewee was about to win the argument. Rajiva was often cut off mid sentence by Sackur who then veered off in another direction. Sackur also spoke while Rajiva was speaking, so we could not hear what Rajiva was saying. Rajiva did not complain.  Palitha Kohona challenged this unethical practice. He was interviewed via cable, I think from New York. Palitha told Sackur ‘I will reply your question. Do not interrupt me until I finish.”

After the March 2021 sessions of the UNHRC in Geneva, Tim Sebastian, formerly BBC, interviewed Foreign Secretary, retired Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, for the Deutsche Welle  programme ‘Conflict Zone’. Sebastian said In the last few days, the UN Human Rights Council passed a landmark resolution highlighting your government’s failure to ensure accountability for human rights violations and mandating UN investigators to collect and preserve data that can be used in the future judicial proceedings. They did that, Mr. Secretary because your abject failure to do it yourself and because of the worsening human rights climate in your country. Aren’t you ashamed of that?” he asked.

Sebastian also wanted to know whether Colombage was proud of living in a country where child killers get presidential pardon? Sebastian was referring to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa releasing a soldier convicted of killing several persons, including children in the Jaffna peninsula. ?

Sebastian warned Prof. Colombage of the possibility of targeted sanctions imposed by individual countries. Member states might start applying targeted sanctions, asset freezers and travel bans against your state officials and others. Are you ready for that?  (Continued)

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