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Sri Lanka And War Crimes

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Comparatively speaking, the conflict in Sri Lanka between 2006 and 2009 was underreported in the Western media.

This is despite mass killings, horrendous atrocities and the shelling of areas known to contain civilians by the Sri Lankan army.

Towards the end, in 2009, there was increased coverage, but nowhere near the level of indignation that one might rightly expect to be found in the Western press.

The exception to that has been Channel 4, who have covered it for a number of years and reveal that the Sri Lankan government is guilty of war crimes, according to a secret UN report:

“A leaked UN report reveals the United Nations believes there is credible evidence that war crimes were committed in Sri Lanka’s civil war. Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson recalls the “frustration and the tension” of trying to report on a “secret war”.

Already the government of Sri Lanka has put up its defences as the report is leaked. To nobody’s surprise Colombo’s position is that this is just so much hearsay because the United Nations team never got real access. And they have got access because Colombo banned them… and so the merry-go-round goes on.

All of it, merely the latest in a long chapter of secrecy, censorship and intimidation from both the Sir Lankan government and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) down the long years of civil war from 23 June 1983 to the Tigers admitting defeat in May 2009.

For any foreign reporter visiting the island it was generally a barely endurable excercise in frustration and the tension. Frustration at interminable briefings in Colombo from government officials telling you virtually nothing. Or highly sanitised visits “to the front” during which one would be shown next to nothing.

Any attempt to reach the other side as it were – the LTTE – was always a high- risk venture from the crossing of lines and possible minefields to the more likely danger of exposing your local fixer/translator to serious police action or worse for helping foreign reporters to try and cover both sides of the long war. “

Read Channel 4 news’ Sri Lanka: civil war special report.

Update 1: Channel 4 has updated the details:

“These alleged crimes include executions, rape and torture by Government forces. The leaked report also lists the shelling of civilians inside “no-fire zones”, the “systematic shelling” of hospitals and attacks on the UN and Red Cross.

The LTTE stands accused of refusing civilians permission to leave the conflict zone and “using them as hostages” in a “buffer zone”.

The UN panel also says that authorities “sought to intimidate and silence the media and other critics of the war through a variety of threats and actions, including the use of white vans to abduct and to make people disappear”. “

Written by modernityblog

16/04/2011 at 15:24

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