Colombo Telegraph

Channel 4 At Work Again In Sri Lanka

By Nagananda Kodituwakku

Nagananda Kodituwakku

The British TV – Channel 4 which made the controversial documentary on Sri Lanka is once again at work.

Channel 4 documentaries and government’s stand on ‘Still Counting the Dead’

The documentaries published by Channel 4 were ardently challenged by the ousted MR administration for the credibility of its content, including the reading material such as Frances Harrison’s book, ‘Still Counting the Dead’. The then Ministry of Defence ruthlessly condemned these materials, as publications of utter falsehood. Nevertheless it is undeniable truth that any war front, atrocities take place sometimes with or without the sanction of the High Command. And Sri Lanka is not an exception in this regard.

It appears that almost all critics have conveniently forgotten the irrefutable evidence given by the Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph (available in the documentary ‘Common Differences” ) wherein he mentions that he had advised the LTTE Leader Prabakaran not to take people with him as a human shield when he withdrew in the face of army offensive, to which Prabakaran had replied that he fought for the people and the people have to be with him’. Apparently, this is how thousands became victims of in the final phase of the war.

The government of Sri Lanka rejects the publications as fallacies

Under the Rajapaksa regime the Defence Ministry website said; ‘Survivors of Sri Lanka’s Hidden War, is a telling insight into how the western ‘commentocracy’ continues to distort accounts of the ending of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009.1 This war was a long and brutal conflict fought between the Government of Sri Lanka and a terrorist movement which called itself the “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam” (LTTE, also known as the “Tamil Tigers”). The book will be welcomed by the caffè latte drinking, Channel 4-viewing, Hampstead set. Harrison will doubtless be gently back-slapped by her colleagues in the journalism and human rights industry, and will appear on numerous television and radio shows to discuss it’.

‘Regrettably, in articulating this narrative, Harrison’s book omits key facts, offers convenient half-truths and contains blatant falsehoods. The reality is that in doing so her book may well prolong any final resolution of the conflict by artificially sustaining a flimsy narrative that only serves the interests of members and fellow travellers of one of the world’s most ruthless terrorist movements. The contents, claims and conclusions are so mired in propaganda as to be unusable to anyone looking for an objective and accurate account of the events at the end of the war. The book comprises a series of interviews with ten Sri Lankan Tamils, all of whom, with one or two possible exceptions, are intimately linked with the LTTE. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the interviews dovetail with what can be termed the “Channel 4 Narrative”, a version of events broadcast by Channel 4 television in 2011 and 2012. This projects an omnipresent Sri Lankan security state, which established and then deliberately ignored civilian “no fire zones” in the last few months of the war, and in so doing killed thousands of Tamil civilians. This narrative, while conceding that the LTTE may have conscripted children to fight in its ranks, and may have shot at the occasional Tamil civilian, generally soft-peddles the atrocious nature of the LTTE, preferring to ignore the organisation’s catalogue of war crimes and crimes against humanity’.

The Positive effects emanating from the Channel 4 involvement

However the truth is that these materials had their light of the day forcing the then government, to be accountable, when the international community took a firm stand demanding for the establishment of an independent, credible justice mechanism to inquire into high profile cases including human rights violations in Sri Lanka, acknowledging the fact that the people of Sri Lanka has no faith and confidence in its justice system. In the paragraph 6 of the resolution adopted against Sri Lanka by the United Nations (A/HCR/RES/30/1) on 01st Oct 2015 went on to say as follows.

‘Welcomes the recognition by the Government of Sri Lanka that accountability is essential to uphold the rule of law and to build confidence in the people of all communities of Sri Lanka in the justice system, notes with appreciation the proposal of the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators’

Any inside involvement on foreign media re-entry?

Channel 4 Crew re-entered Sri Lanka on Wednesday the 20th Jan by UL 504 and the crew was headed by John Snow, an English journalist and television presenter, currently employed by ITN – UK. He is best known as the longest-running presenter of Channel 4 News, which he presents since 1989.

There is no doubt that there shall be no ban or restriction on any investigation on any possible war crimes undertaken by any media institution, whether such investigations are carried out by the local, foreign or foreign media backed by powers within the local regime to ascertain nothing but the truth with no vested interests whatsoever.

President Sirisena denied war crimes allegations

In the meanwhile, yesterday at an interview given to BBC, President Sirisena said that while the UN report released in September 2015 had pointed to army involvement in war crimes, the report had failed to mention names. He further said it was important to determine whether such crimes actually took place.

Saying that the claims were made by people who were close to the Tamil Tigers, President Sirisena added: “I totally deny that. If some one can prove with evidence, I am ready to give them the opportunity. Justice is served equally in this country.”

“This investigation should be internal and indigenous, without violating the laws of the country, and I believe in the judicial system and other relevant authorities in this regard” president further said.

The mission undertaken by the Channel 4 in this occasion, with paralysed national security and defence policy, may probably provides with necessary verifications backed by both oral and video evidence, justifying the establishment of international tribunal with the participation of foreign judges to inquire into human right violations and war crimes allegations, compelling the government to concede the UN backed resolution ratified on 1st Oct 2015, with the concurrence of the Sirisena Administration.

State policy on security and defense shall not be compromised

Yet, under whatever the circumstances no country shall be subjected to any form of unequal treatment concerning war crime investigations and Sri Lanka shall not be an exception. War crimes take place all over the world, and most serious crimes against humanity have been committed by the Super Powers in the world. For instance, crimes being committed in the West Bank and in Syria are beyond imagination and it is apparent that the world media that controls the ‘world media market’ turns a blind eye into most of these crimes against humanity.

In this backdrop, the new regime cannot be complacent in its duty to the nation and to compromise on the state policy on the security and defense, undermining national security and national interests for its own survival.


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