“Sri Lanka” to the ordinary world, is the country and the government that represents its people. The headline sounded as if the government was responsible for the attack, when we knew it was an act of terrorism conducted by the LTTE.
From the headline, to the content, Amnesty International was trying to shift the focus away from the reality, quite cleverly mis-feeding the media. As a recipient of the letter, I felt obliged to reply to the author, questioning the content and the objective behind the news release. Not surprisingly, I didn’t receive any feedback from Amnesty International – nor from the sender Jim McDonald, nor from their “Sri Lanka Expert” Yolanda Foster, or their co-ordinator at the International Press Office in London – Carina Trimingham. Knowing how promptly they usually react, I know they are not going to respond – it’s already been a week. I copied my response to everyone in the mailing list, I don’t think any of the media personnel in the Amnesty International mailing list received any verification from them either.
Instead, I got bombarded with abusive diatribe from many Tamils. One Mr Jeyatheeswaren called me a “Sinhala Chounist [sic]” among other things.
As expected, this opened up a mini-debate, but I only received two constructive opinions that defended the ground reality and the position of the Government of Sri Lanka. Tamils, who responded, defended Amnesty International, and attacked me with a vengeance.
Just like BBC that had fallen prey to LTTE propaganda, I am sure Amnesty International would continue to do their bit to blame the government and protect the terrorists, to the much delight of certain bloggers like Chitrangi and Groundviews.
But, my worry is not Amnesty International or some local blogger.
I worry about the War of the Words, at the international arena. Sri Lanka has no voice outside the country. The tiny voice there is, is also inaudible to the outside world. LTTE, on the other hand, runs many frontal organisations that collect ransom, print newsletters, distribute propaganda, and conduct mafia-style thuggery in almost every country, even where a solitary Tamil lives.
We don’t even have good speakers who could communicate the very basic, effectively – even at the diplomatic level. Look no further than the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United Kingdom, and you will know what I mean.
LTTE propaganda machinery is still largely at work all over the world, and people like MIA are singing their tunes (pun intended). Thanks to biased news networks like BBC (remember the Appeal for Palestine? Or search Google to find out more), not only the British society at large, but even the Downing Street has been misinformed, resulting in another embarrassing affair.
Journalists thrive on controversies. If there is none, they create some.
According the the Times Online (UK), this is how they portrayed the government’s effort to provide the civilians who escaped the grip of terror with modern villages that comprise permanent housing, schools, banks, parks and vocational centres:
“Sri Lanka was accused yesterday of planning concentration camps to hold 200,000 ethnic Tamil refugees from its northeastern conflict zone for up to three years — and seeking funding for the project from Britain,” reported Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent.UN, who has been pointing finger at the Government is finally pointing the finger at the right direction: the terrorists. Why, because they have 15 of their own staff and their families stuck in the grip of terror, being used as human shields. One staff member is being forced to fight in the frontlines, facing a certain death. If not for this incident, they would have still continued to play the blame-game.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. From Boston to our own bloggers, the Sinhala majority is painted as the oppressors. Tamils, are the victims. And the world thinks that the Tamils are the ONLY minority in Sri Lanka; they don’t even know that there is a sizable Muslim community (in fact, much larger than the Sri Lankan Tamils, read the CIA country profile here) living in this country in harmony with the rest. How come they don’t have the problems that “minority” Tamils seems to have?
Journalists should, and must, report facts. Not opinions. The readers are intelligent enough to digest the facts and form their own opinions, and finding out the truth on their own.
“I read three newspaper accounts of the suicide bomber and her victims and the reporters just threw in guesstimates as facts. How can one paper give a figure of casualties that is about 100 higher than another?So, what are we going to do? Be bigots? Continue acting like pussies?
Journalist reporting need not give opinions - it is very powerful when it gives the facts as truthfully as the writer can do so, and lets the readers make up their minds. All such reporting when unbiased wakens the reader.
I am asking everyone I know to say to anyone to speaks to them socially with political or religious bias which puts down someone of a different affiliation, ‘How long have you been a bigot?’ because these words turn the speaker onto him/herself - and it is in such speakers unchallenged that the problems we have fester. I have done it for years and the answer is invariably, ‘I am not a bigot,’ which gives me a chance to say, ‘No one calls themselves a bigot, but what you just said marks you as one.” – read one of the feedback I received from a Sri Lankan in Colombo, regarding the above Amnesty International News Flash.
Are we going to let the international media that’s thousands of miles away brain-wash us in to believing what they say is the truth, and not what we see? Are we going to let them strip us of our intelligence and paint us as barbarians who kill in the name of racial bias? Are we going to let them tarnish the image of our nation, when we know that they are distorting the truth?
Or fight to defend our nation in the international theatre of information, in the global blogshpere, in every little way we can..?