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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2865

Pope tricked into believing Tiger propaganda on bombing of Tamil Church

By Glen Jenvey

London, 10 August, ( In the offensive to recapture Jaffna the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) dropped leaflets urging the people to move to places of worship for safety. By July 9, 1995 St. Peter’s Church and the adjacent St. Peter’s School in Navaly were packed with hundred of civilians seeking shelter. On the day after the attack, 56 bodies were retrieved from the debris, many of whom were women and children. The death toll in this incident later increased. Rescue workers reported torn limbs and pieces of human flesh strewn over the area. Predictably, the SLAF was accused of attacking places of worship where Tamil civilians had sought refuge. How did the SLAF make this mistake?

It would take a year later for the truth of what happened to come out -- all captured on film. I had been spying for the Sri Lankan High Commission in London for over a year operating undercover, inside the Tigers London office at 211, Katherine Road, Eastham, London. Under the direct command of the head of the LTTE office I was working as an assistant press officer for the Tigers which gave me access to daily press statements and video tapes being pumped out by the Tigers media wing. Shortly after the air raid, I was sent several new videos for my eyes only. These were given to me by the Head of the LTTE, which I later shared with my bosses in the NIBS better known today as the SIS. The video showed what happened at St Peters Church in Navaly that day. I was instructed not to release it to the press. It was strictly for my eyes only. and was for my use only. it was a video production made by Hell's own media wing!

The video opens with a shot of the church building, trees and other bushes you so often find in Sri Lanka. You could also hear the sounds of birds and other wildlife and people talking. The camera crew was focusing the camera at the sky and zooming at the tree tops waiting for something to come out of the skies.

The Tigers had told me a few weeks earlier the reason why so many Sri Lankan airforce planes had been shot down over Sri Lanka.

Reason: the pilot had stuck to the same flight paths on routine missions and the Tigers had moved their guns under the flight path used the day's before and trained their gun's on the coming plane. This made it easy for them to track the planes and shoot them down. By July 9, 1995 the Tigers had placed their anti-air craft guns almost next to St. Peter’s Church where the Tamil civilians had taken shelter.

Out of the blue,the next scene moved to the far away droning of a plane coming within the focus of the video, with many voices yelling orders. Then came anti air craft fire from the ground, all captured on the film with hysterical voices screaming orders from all directions. The film caught anti aircraft guns on the ground firing into the sky, They had been placed near the Church by the Tigers and were trained on the approaching aircraft firing at full steam.

The film spins around with shots of armed Tigers running for cover as the plane gets closer. Large explosions are heard. The anti aircraft fire still goes on. You can still hear the plane flying over. This attempt by the Tigers to target the SLAF aircraft flying over head, using a church as cover, soon goes wrong as you hear another explosion and screams coming from what must be the deepest bottom of hell, as it were. The screams were from the civilians trapped inside the Church.

At this point the Tiger cameramen focus on the Tamil civilians. It’s a real life horror movie being filmed by the LTTE's media wing.

The video proves that by firing from the vicinity of the Church the pilot had no choice but to return fire. The camera showed that the pilot had dropped bombs away from the church near to the anti- aircraft guns as trees were brought down by the explosions.

From that height there was no way the pilot could know that the firing was not coming from the Church because the gun positions were so close to the Church. In fact, the Tigers had positioned the guns to make it look like coming from the Church.

The video then went on filming the dead and civilians screaming in pain -- pains that seemed like music to the Tiger camera crew. The film crew ran around getting close- ups as if it was all part of a pre-planned script. None of them showed an interest in helping the dying or the wounded. Their main objective was to film graphic pictures of those in agony or dying. The pre-planned positioning of the guns next to the Church and the firing from the ground to provoke retaliatory firing from the aircraft were deliberate acts of the Tigers to get the film for propaganda purposes and not to liberate the Tamil people. At the end of this horror movie it was clear to me that the Tigers in fact planned the whole attack to deliberately force the SLAF to attack the Church.

The film was given over to the Sri Lankan intelligence service for safe keeping and if made public would prove the Tigers actions led to the killings.

The film depicted the insensitive and the conscience-shocking tactics of the Tamil Tiger using their own people as a human shield for their propaganda purposes. I still have nightmares over it and the screaming of the Tamil civilians will be with me for many years to come. How can the so-called “liberation front” use the lives of innocent women and children for their dirty war? The Church too is responsible because it allowed the Tigers to place their guns next to their premises, knowing very well the consequences of such a cruel act of exposing women and children to retaliatory fire.

The Tigers used the church bombing against the Sri Lankan government. It even managed to extract a statement from the Pope who did not know that it was a deliberate act to sacrifice women and children to gain political mileage for the Tigers.

Pope John Paul said on Wednesday he was suffering along with the families of people killed when air force bombs hit a church in Sri Lanka. The Red Cross said 65 people died on Sunday when the bombs hit a Catholic church in Navali, north of Jaffna, and many more had died or fled their homes in the last three days of fighting between Tamil guerrillas and the Sri Lankan army. "I want to express my deep-felt sharing in the suffering of so many people involved in the ethnic conflict that is tearing Sri Lanka apart," he told pilgrims and tourists at his weekly general audience. "I share the grief of those who lost their loved ones in the bombing of the church and school of Navali," he added. The Pope, who visited Sri Lanka earlier this year, also called for negotiation to end the fighting. (Vatican City, July 12 Reuter Report)

Moral: Camera can not only lie but even deceive dignitaries like the Pope.

- Asian Tribune -

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