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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2760

Sri Lanka’s failed global propaganda to combat Tamil Tigers reflected in The New York Times report

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 18 May ( Asian Tribune, in these columns, recently carried Sri Lanka ambassador in the United States Bernard Goonetilleke’s comments at his luncheon-meeting with Washington Times that Sri Lanka’s separatist Tamil Tiger (LTTE) propaganda machine is “well oiled” and that the Tigers frequently use the term “genocide” to tarnish the image of his country.

He expressed his utter frustration, to the editors of the Washington Times, over the Tiger-biased media coverage of the Sri Lankan political situation.

It looks like Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry and its most vital and important overseas diplomatic post in Washington need to create, without delay, a “well oiled” propaganda network for themselves to combat misinterpretations, misrepresentations, distortions and pathological lies of the American media, probably fed by the “well oiled” propaganda machinery ably handled by professionals domiciled in the U.S., tarnishing the image of Sri Lanka distorting facts of the by gone years and using those distorted facts to interpret current developments in favor of the Tamil Tiger agenda.

Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry may be aware, if its Washington Post had apprised Colombo, that a notorious academic in New York, who champions the causes of international terrorist movements, an influential and leading immigration attorney from Los Angeles, who often attends Tamil Tiger propaganda parleys in European capitals, and lawyers and academics of Sri Lankan origin, who often use the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to lobby U.S. Congressmen, are the cog-wheels of the “well oiled” propaganda machinery in the United States.

Democratic Congressman from California Brad Sherman, who is the ranking member of the House International Relation Committee’s Sub Committee on Terrorism and Nonproliferation, too falls into this list. He is of the opinion that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a liberation movement for the entire Tamil population (12.5%) in Sri Lanka. Asian Tribune is not sure whether he has been told by anyone that more than half of the Tamil ethnic population lives among the majority Sinhalese.

Now the “well oiled” Sri Lanka separatist Tamil Tiger propaganda machinery showed its “claws” in a well-displayed quarter-page report in May 16, 2006 edition of The New York Times, the newspaper which has the second largest circulation next toUSA Today.

The report captioned ‘Foreign Monitors Investigate Killings of 13 Tamils in Sri Lanka’, among many misinterpretations, carried the following paragraph to justify the Tamil Tiger claim of ‘genocide’ in the present conflict in Sri Lanka:

“The monitoring mission’s dossier revives the chilling specter of Sri Lanka’s past. By the late 1980s, during the peak years of its 20-year conflict over the grievances of the Tamil ethnic minority against a government long dominated by the majority Sinhalese, Sri Lanka become infamous for government-backed death squads, disappearances and unsolved killings.”

This is the propaganda that has gone and is going to feed the western media, and through them to the academics, those who are in positions to influence policy-makers and finally policy makers in the United States Department of State and the United States Congress. This is the propaganda, unabated, that has gone to condition the mindset of the western media, professionals and policy makers in the United States.

So, according to The New York Times report, the “Sinhalese-dominated government” was repeating its genocidal acts in the current conflict in Sri Lanka.

The above The New York Times report, and the highlighted paragraph, somewhat reflected in the pronouncements of U.S. State Department envoy Donald Camp in Colombo this week when the Sri Lanka government-controlled television network Rupavahini asked him what can the U.S. say to help Sri Lanka during this war of aggression launched by the LTTE, especially if Prabakaran escalates into full-scale conflict.

Don Camp, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, said “Sri Lanka has always known that it has the moral support, the diplomatic support of the United States, and that will continue to be true.”

While condemning LTTE terrorism, Camp in the same strength said “there is no question that the government of Sri Lanka has responsibilities as well. One of those, which the government has certainly acknowledged, is to address the legitimate grievances of the Tamil people.”

Camp rules out military support to Sri Lanka, and Sri Lanka is left with moral and diplomatic support. Is Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry and its diplomatic post in Washington prepared for it?

Is Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry and its diplomatic post in Washington prepared to tell the editorial staff of The New York Times that in 1987, with India’s intervention, Sri Lankan armed forces ceased their forward march attack on the LTTE positions at Vadamarachchi, and that in July 1987 with the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) arrived in the north of Sri Lanka to combat the Tamil Tigers on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka, and that the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by Sri Lanka parliament establishing provincial councils, the first attempt of devolution of political and administrative power to the periphery, and that the government of Sri Lanka, in the late 80s, was not involved in the battle against the Tamil Tigers but was on a military offensive (88-89) against the Marxist JVP (Peoples Liberation Front- an armed insurgent movement whose combatants were all Sinhalese) and that the ‘Sinhalese armed forces’ of the ‘Sinhalese-dominated government’ was killing the JVP using government-backed death squads, and that those who were subjected to disappearances and extra-judicial killings in the late 80s, as The New York Times report says, were all Sinhalese.

With the above clarification to the editorial staff of The New York Times, Sri Lanka foreign ministry and its Washington diplomatic post can inaugurate its propaganda machinery to become “well oiled” to combat the misinformation, misrepresentation, distortions and pathological lies of the western media. Sri Lanka would have won half of its battle.

Asian Tribune

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