Miniscule of trauma inflicted on the civilian population

Jon Snow of Channel 4

by Rajasingham Jayadevan

(June 20, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Let me begin with a big thank you to the Channel 4 TV for coming strongly on the side of fair journalism to reveal the facts about the war fought behind the iron curtain in Sri Lanka.

I write as a Tamil and am a multi facet victim of the political degeneration that is throttling the very credibility of a state that thrives on the very hatred that is embedded in the irredeemable degrading socio-political mechanisms and mechanisation of the country.

Channel 4 faced threats and intimidation from the Sri Lanka government quarters, but its unresolved stand to put the island nation on the world agenda is admirable. After its bogus threats of legal action against the Channel 4, the government of Sri Lanka is now engaged on its specialist paranoiac path of vituperation on the TV station as a mouth piece of the LTTE rumps.

Tamil Tiger paranoia will remain in the mindset of the government of Sri Lanka for its own advantage for many years or decades to come, even after claiming it has defeated the group outright.

One has to rekindle the pre-LTTE campaigns against the Tamils by the successive governments when Tamil political leaders were treated with contempt for campaigning for the due political rights of the Tamils.

In the polarised political divide, the 1977 general election gave true character of the divide when Sinhalese and Tamils elected their own leaders with absolute majority for both sides resulting in the Tamil United Liberation Front leader Appapillai Amirthalingam becoming the Opposition Leader in the parliament. Soon after, the ruling United National Party (UNP) passed a no confidence motion against the Tamil leader for espousing the grievances and the cause of the Tamil people. The intolerant majority ruling party simply passed the motion against the Opposition Leader for the stand the opposition had taken. This proves even democracy can work in the reversal.

What Channel 4 revealed so far is a miniscule of the real character of Sri Lanka. The right thinking international community must be thankful to the Channel 4 for putting Sri Lanka high on the international agenda. This admirable effort proves the power of media to dissect the issues in the best interest to achieve justice and piece in the world.

When the United Nations and the international media are prevented C4 and its media crew to the north by the government, then the scarce available resources become the basic evidence to reveal the veracity of the war. The government obstructed the C4’s effort to cover the war and deported its media men to give the factual coverage of the war resulting in the C4 relying on evidence gathered by hard investigation. The government is quite aware the solid evidence of summary executions reported were provided by army sources, but to gain political capital it is as usual, blaming it as the work of the LTTE.

The leading media’s like BBC, Al-Jazeera too have played their due role, but the Channel 4’s outright standing has elevated the need for the international media to play its due role proactively when the very meaning of democracy is manipulated in a highhanded manner and military/intelligence dictate under the family rule of President Rajapakse is burying the very meaning of good or fair governance in Sri Lanka.

Dictatorships are easy to recognise and deal with. But unfortunately ‘democratic dictatorships’ are passively handled by the international community so far for the mere reason of them camouflaging their status with the ballot boxes. Good governance, accountability, justice, fairness, separation of powers, recognition and honouring diversity, freedom of speech etc. are fundamental ingredients for a just democratic society to thrive and Sri Lanka is one of the worst of such democratic dictatorships undermining these values in the world, needing greater scrutiny of the debilitating unaccountable democratic systems in the world.

LTTE has committed horrendous crimes and these were exposed in the media and adequately dealt by the international community. But state terrorism that is the mother of the LTTE escaped the due scrutiny in the constrained politics of the world. The war executed by the state has caused more harm to the civilian population than what the LTTE did and the government’s stake in oxygenating the war cannot escape international scrutiny.

Both main political parties that ruled Sri Lanka played their due role against the Tamils. Birth of LTTE helped the successive governments to extend their marginalisation process of the Tamils very effectively.

The inhuman war may have officially ended on May 19, 2011. Unfortunately, what is happening post 2009 is new face of the ugly war- a war of gradual wearing down of morale and the powers of resistance by persistent attacks on the fabric of the Tamil society and its values. This is subtle and systematic and has its ulterior agenda of purging the Tamils further. The accountability process must cover post war events under the military/paramilitary rule of the state against victims.

The military took into custody thousands of surrendered and captured LTTE cadres and those suspected of involvement with the LTTE. To this date, true account of the captive’s names is not being revealed. The recent revelation by a minister that only 850 odd LTTE fighters are held in detention without naming them raises serious questions in the government claims that many thousands are being held in captivity.

An elderly poet of the LTTE Puthuvai Ratnathurai who never fought a battle or held a gun in his hand surrendered to the army on the last day of the war. Government is saying they are rehabilitating the surrendered persons, but why it is taking such a long time to release the old poet or produce him before the court to prove any charge they can frame against this elderly man. What kind of rehabilitation is needed for a 70 year old man for holding him for two years and what is the motive for his name being kept secret.

This sick elderly poet was taken away in a bus with over forty odd LTTE capitulators but we know only of the fate of three of them. The socialist parliamentarian and Minister of Human Resources D E W Gunesekara has publicly claimed that the two of those went in the bus died in the battle front whilst there is ample eye witness account that they were part of those surrendered to the army. It is now known LTTE’s prominent Paapa has is cooperating with the government and has been inducted into the military intelligence unit to identify the LTTE sympathisers arriving at the Colombo airport.

When will the truth revealed about Puthuvai Ratnathurai and many others surrendered to the army? Despite the government appointed LLRC panel giving directions for the release of the names of the captives, the government is not proving reluctant and playing its usual doggy game of dragging on its feet. Such process will not heal the wounds of the Tamils but will only exacerbate the anger and frustration of those concerned.

The broadcast had a chilling effect. According to the news over 800,000 have watched this programme on that day of broadcast and it was a hit programme according to analysis. C4 has created so much awareness that even I received a call from a known non Tamil when the Channel 4 telecast was debated on the LBC radio. The person knew a little about Sri Lanka.

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