13 July, 2024


Witnesses To “The War Without Witnesses”

By Michael Roberts

Dr. Michael Roberts

Dr. Michael Roberts

I commence here with the whole lot of close-up images snapped by Kanchan Prasad of Prasar Bharati and passed on to me at some point in 2010 or so.

There may be others but these are the close-ups in my stock – where they are part of other photographs with more sweeping views of the flotsam and jetsam of the Last Redoubt between Nandikadal Lagoon and the sea.

A selection from these other images can be found within these two items

Indian Reporter Pics at NFZ-14-to-18 May 2009 ( Click here )

Mullivaikkal Hospital in NFZ Last Redoubt ( Click here )

Also click here for Kanchan’s photographs of some of the reporters during two of her visits.

Muralidhar Reddy and Kanchan Prasad were taken to the “Last Redoubt” every day on the 14th-18th May, returning to the SL Army HQ area by evening-night so that they could file their reports to their respective Indian offices. I had got to know Reddy (of The Hindu newspaper) well in April-May 2009 when I was visiting Colombo and he asked me to write articles for Frontline. He told me that he had been periodically embedded in the rear battlefront since late 2008; and that he recorded tales from some of the Tamil people who successfully fled from the c their corralled hostage situation from late 2008 onwards – with the aid of a translator [because his mother tongue is Telugu].

Reddy with Major-General Shavindra Silva of the 58th Brigade at the SL Army base camp at Kilinochchi on 13th May when Reddy and Prasad were given a briefing and where the General "asked us what we needed for reporting purposes" (email from Reddy to Roberts, 28 Dec. 2013)

Reddy with Major-General Shavindra Silva of the 58th Brigade at the SL Army base camp at Kilinochchi on 13th May when Reddy and Prasad were given a briefing and where the General “asked us what we needed for reporting purposes” (email from Reddy to Roberts, 28 Dec. 2013)

I was not introduced to Kanchan till a year later when I visited Lanka in May-June 2010 … and discovered that Reddy used no camera and that it is Kanchan to whom we are indebted for a number of revealing still images during those visits where she was present.

Note that Reddy has told the world that “[t]here were no conditions spelled out on the coverage from the war zone.  We were allowed unfettered and unhindered movement up to 400 meters from the zone, where pitched battles were fought between the military and the remaining cadre and leaders of the LTTE….Most important was the fact that we had interference-free access to the internet, including Tamilnet, the website perceived to be pro-LTTE and based somewhere in Europe.  Within the constraints of internet time available, and not-unexpected problems of connectivity and speed in a war zone, there was just enough time to read and absorb the reports on the websites before sending news dispatches to our headquarters.  No questions were asked” (Reddy, “An eye-witness account of the last 70 hours of Eelam War IV,” Frontline, Volume 26-Issue 12:  June 6-19, 2009).

Unfortunately Kanchan and Reddy had been flown back to Colombo on the 18th May and missed the final skirmish on the 18.19th night when a band of hiding Tamil Tigers were flushed out in swampy mangrove terrain on the edge of Nandikadal Lagoon and Prabhākaran’s corpse was discovered among the dead.

While Prasad and Reddy may have been given a privileged place among reporters in mid-May, they were among a number of other foreign journalists airlifted to the front on other occasions in the months January-April 2009. ( See the list here )

Therein lies a remarkable tale does it not. The accounts sent by these intrepid personnel were so noticeable – that is so buried or glossed over – that the general opinion in Colombo as well as the wide-wide-and-wild world is that no reporters were permitted even a sniff of the frontline arena.

What does this gross error say to us now, today? It demonstrates the power wielded by the Tamil psy-ops circuit working in association with their aides in powerful media outlets in the West. A LIE has been written down in stone and has lit the sky. This lie is now inscribed within several brains and repeated ad nauseam. Amen it is in THEIR SKY.


Government of Sri Lanka 2013 “The Last Phase,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngNeF5WY64s.

Gray, David 2009 “A Day at the Front Line in Sri Lanka (Photographer’s Blog),” 27 April 2009, http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2009/04/27/a-day-at-the-front-line-in-sri-lanka/

Groundviews 2009 “Would killing 50,000 civilians to finish off the LTTE bring peace?” http://groundviews.org/2009/05/03/would-killing-50000-civilians-to-finish-off-the-ltte-bring-peace/

Noble, Kath  2013 “Numbers Game reviewed by Kath Noble: The full monty,” 14 July 2013, http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/numbers-game-reviewed-by-kath-noble-the-full-monty/

Padraig Colman 2011 Evaluating the ‘Churnalism’ from Channel 4 and the Moon Panel,” 17 August 2011, http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/a-credible-evaluation-of-%e2%80%9cchurnalism%e2%80%9d-from-channel-4-and-the-moon-panel/.

Padraig Colman 2011 “the Cage by Gordon Weiss,” Island, 13 May 2013, 2http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=78825

Prasad, Kanchan 2011a “Indian Reporter Pics at NFZ-14-to-18 May 2009,”  http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626797805167/

Prasad, Kanchan 2011b “Mullivaikkal Hospital in NFZ Last Redoubt,” in http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626797848747/

Prasad, Kanchan 2011c “Two Indian Reporters’ Post-War Pictures at the LTTE’s Last Redoubt, May 14-19, 2009,” ed. by Roberts, June 2011, http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/blogs/southasiamasala/2011/06/10/two-indian-reporters%E2%80%99-post-war-pictures-at-the-ltte%E2%80%99s-last-redoubt-may-14-19-2009

Rajasingham, Narendran 2009 “Rise and Fall of the LTTE — An Overview,” Sri Lanka Guardian, 7 Feb. 2009, http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2009/02/rise-and-fall-of-ltte-overview.html.

Reddy, B. Muralidhar 2009a “An Escape from Hellhole,” http://www.hindu.com/ 2009/04/25/stories/2009042558390100.html.

Reddy, Muralidhar 2009b “Multiple Displacements, Total Loss of Identity.” The Hindu, 27 May 2009, http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/27/stories/2009052755811500.htm

Reddy, Muralidhar 2009c “A first-hand account of the war and the civilians’ plight as Eelam War almost comes to a close,” Frontline, 26/11, May 23-June 5, 2009

Roberts, Michael 2008 “Tamil Tigers: Sacrificial Symbolism and ‘Dead Body Politics’,” Anthropology Today, 24/3: 22-23.

Roberts, Michael 2009a “Dilemma’s at War’s End: Thoughts on Hard Realities,” http://www.groundviews.org, 10 Feb. 2009.

Roberts, Michael 2009b “The Rajapaksa Regime and the Fourth Estate,” 9 December 2009, www.groundviews.org.

Roberts, Michael 2010a “Realities of War,” Frontline, 9-22 May 2009, vol. 26, http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=archive … later reprinted with different title in Roberts, Fire and Storm, 2011.

Roberts, Michael 2010b “Self Annihilation for Political Cause: Cultural Premises in Tamil Tiger Selflessness,” in Roberts, Fire and Storm. Essays in Sri Lankan Politics, Colombo: Yapa,  pp. 161-201.

Roberts, Michael 2011a “A Think-Piece drafted in May 2011,” http://thuppahi.wordpress. com /2011/07/23/a-think-piece-drafted-in-may/#more-2998, 23 July 201

Roberts, Michael  2011bReading “devastation”: Botham, CMJ, Ban Ki-Moon,” 10 June 2011http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/reading%E2%80%9Cdevastation%E2%80%9 D-botham-cmj-ban-ki-moon/

Roberts, Michael  2011c “People of Righteousness target Sri Lanka,” 27 June 2011, http://thuppahi.wordpress.com /2011/06/27/people-of-righteousness-target-sri-lanka/

Roberts, Michael  2011d “A Think-Piece drafted in May 2011,” http://thuppahi.wordpress. com /2011/07/23/a-think-piece-drafted-in-may/#more-2998, 23 July 2011.

Roberts, Michael  2011e “Amnesty International reveals its Flawed Tunnel-Vision in Sri Lanka in 2009,” 10 Aug. 2011, http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/amnesty-international-reveals-its-flawed-tunnel-vision-on-sri-lanka-in-2009/

Roberts, Michael  2011f “The Tamil Death Toll in early 2009: Challenging Rohan Gunaratna,” 1 December 2011, http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/the -tamil-death-toll-in-early-2009-challenging-rohan-gunaratna/ and http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/6285

Roberts, Michael  2013a “Pragmatic Action and Enchanted Worlds: A Black Tiger Rite of Commemoration,” http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/pragmatic-action-enchanted-worlds-a-black-tiger-rite-of-commemoration/a reprint of an article in Social Analysis, 2006, 73–102.

Roberts, Michael  2013bIntroducing “Numbers Game” – A Detailed Study of the Last Stages of Eelam War IV,” http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/introducing-numbers-game-a-detailed-study-of-the-last-stages-of-eelam-war-iv/

Roberts, Michael  2014 “Towards Citizenship in Thāmilīlam: The Tamil People of the North, 2 1983-2010,” in Roberts, Tamil Person and State: Essays, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 132-183.

Samarajiva, Indi 2012 “Channel 4’s – A Review,” The Nation, 18 March 2012, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131118/debtext/131118-0001.htm#1311188000001

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Latest comments

  • 5

    This stupid article only confirms that selected people were allowed during war to write the pro-government articles.
    Even now,long after the war, foreign journalists cannot go to North without intimidation, This author is an idiot. He is trying to glorify an inhuman dictator ruining SriLanka. Why can’ he try to point our problems in the country which undermine democracy. That will be a favour to our citizens.

  • 1

    The doubters are so pathetic. They believe only what suits them, and not what is pointed out by people on the ground. All of you are pathetic, scared terrorist supporters. What do you have to fear about the truth…? The answer to this questions leads to the very roots of this whole controversy. You’re a dying breed. The truth will set many free, but only expose you.

  • 1

    Anything that is a war crime for Tamils is a war chime for other Srilankans.

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