The Sri Lankan government’s propaganda took another blow just days before the opening of the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Commission when Channel 4 categorically refuted the allegations made against it in government sponsored publication called Corrupted Journalism: Channel 4 and Sri Lanka . In an unprecedented step the UK based Channel 4 which has been airing evidence of mass atrocities by the Sri Lankan government in the final phase of the war published a detailed refutation of “an international propaganda offensive” launched by supporters of the Sri Lankan government.
Issuing a statement the Channel 4 said; “In November 2013, Prime Minister, David Cameron, called for an independent investigation into the events at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war after viewing the ‘truly shocking’ footage that features in No Fire Zone. The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva will consider calls for the creation of an International Commission of Inquiry into all the crimes committed in the final months of the war.
“But now, in an attempt to discredit Channel 4 and suppress legitimate reporting of these war crimes, Sri Lankan government propaganda machinery had produced a 222 page book called Corrupted Journalism: Channel 4 and Sri Lanka which has been distributed widely around the world to diplomats, journalists and academics. The authors of Corrupted Journalism remain anonymous and the source of its funding is a mystery.
“To counter this misleading attack on its journalism, Channel 4 has taken the unusual step of publishing a detailed 20,000 word rebuttal titled The Uncorrupted Truth.
“The booklet is authored by the director of Channel 4’s Sri Lanka films, BAFTA and Grierson nominee Callum Macrae. Macrae is a distinguished journalist who has won many awards from industry bodies including the Royal Television Society, The Association of International Broadcasters, Amnesty and several others.
“He has also won two of the United States’ most prestigious television journalism awards, The Peabody and the Columbia Dupont Awards, and for two years running has been ranked by Broadcast Magazine as one of the top three directors in the UK.
“Channel 4 Head of News and Current Affairs, Dorothy Byrne said: ‘Corrupted Journalism is a scurrilous piece of work which misleads the public. That is why we decided to publish this full and detailed response, answering every allegation in careful and meticulous detail. In contrast to the authors and funders of this spurious nonsense who have chosen to remain anonymous, Channel 4 stands proudly behind the outstanding journalism in No Fire Zone.’
“No Fire Zone tells the story of how, in 2009, the government of Sri Lanka launched a major final offensive against the rebel forces of the Tamil Tigers. The government declared a series of what they called “no fire zones”, encouraged Tamil civilians to gather in them, and then targeted them, shelling indiscriminately and denying adequate food and medicine to those trapped within. The Tigers too stand accused committing war crimes, using child soldiers and suicide bombings. They also prevented civilians from escaping the no fire zones – although the vast majority of civilians who died, did so as a result of government shelling. At the end of the war a series of further war crimes by government soldiers saw executions of naked blindfolded prisoners and acts of sexual violence.
“It was supposed to be a war without witness. But there were witnesses and they filmed the appalling events. These witnesses included both victims and perpetrators: including government soldiers who filmed these crimes as grotesque war trophies. That evidence has been carefully investigated and authenticated by the team behind the Channel 4 films.
“The Government of Sri Lanka insists the video evidence of war crimes is faked. However, Channel 4’s reporting is corroborated by United Nations investigations and reports by independent NGOs including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.”