Wednesday May 22, 2013
US Media's Role in the Silent Death of Sri Lanka's TamilsPolitical Perspective by Tim King Salem-News.com
Warning: article contains Extremely Graphic images!
(SALEM) - War crimes ravaged the Tamil population of Sri Lanka only three years ago as the world looked away in a grotesque type of silence.
The genocidal path of this government toward its minority culture is an extension of the crimes against Tamils that have been underway since the island nation gained independence from Great Britain in 1948.
Pre-meditated murder is among the darkest of crimes, multiply it by at least 40,000, and you begin to see that the violent acts of this government are of a particularly unthinkable nature. Look more closely and you see that 160,000 Tamil people failed to exist at the end of the war. Many are held in camps, but sources in the north say most of the missing are dead.
The tools to avoid this extraordinary loss of human life were available, but most of the American press was asleep at the wheel when it comes to this story and they have still to awaken to the reality of what happened, or their role in this unprecedented human disaster.
In an article titled Sri Lanka: Genocide of the Tamil minority in January 2009, Dr. Brian Senewiratne wrote:
Never were so few words so true, yet a crystal ball was not required; those paying attention could see that death was calling out to the Tamils in a mocking voice. They would die in some of the most horrible ways as these photos attest.
Brian Senewiratne's prophetic words came before the genocide's ugliest and deadliest, final four months.
Today he lives in Australia, but this noted writer hails from Sri Lanka's Sinhalese Buddhist majority population. He is unique for his journalistic accomplishments and for being such a tireless humanitarian activist, yet his position typifies that of many Sinhala Buddhists who decry and deplore what took place in the north under Rajapakse's orders. This is important.
Years after it was published, Brian Senewiratne's article is still easy to locate on Google. In fact it is the first search result under 'Sri Lanka genocide'.
The simple point is that there were no secrets; the Sri Lankan government went to great lengths to silence its critics, but the UN was in place until the very end and their observations were public for anyone who cared to look or listen.
If we were able to cover this event as a small Internet news agency, why were those with real resources not able to do the same? There were people in the UN willing to release information; content was available then and in the ensuing time it has only grown in both volume and intensity and all of the major human rights organizations have paid attention, yet the media fails to follow their lead also.
The warnings were dire and clear; they just have not been viewed with concern from those who produce the news and make no mistake about the power of the media; these are the people who could have collectively brought the Tamils relief simply by doing their jobs.
July- the Tamil's Black History Month
Sri Lanka's morally bankrupt political leaders began accelerating the pace of their Tamil ethnic cleansing program from the time current President Majinda Rajapakse took office in 2005.
This state terrorism regime had the resistance force that defended Tamils, the Liberation Tiers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), declared a terrorist organization and this was the key that unlocked Sri Lanka's final solution toward their minority Hindu and Christian ethnic enemies.
The more I study the history of this conflict, the more I see a pattern of the Tamil Tigers having attacked military installations and soldiers, and Tamil civilians being attacked in return.
Yet the LTTE is the side that was declared as a terrorist group and the dubious designation was pushed through due to the efforts of George W. Bush and Tony Blair- who were prepared to label all of their self-perceived enemies as terrorists as the record clearly shows.
One of the most unforgettable examples of Tamils being terrorized, happened in 1983 during what became known as 'Black July'. More than 4000 Tamil civilians were murdered by angry Sinhala Buddhist mobs who raped and burned and murdered innocent civilians faster than they could escape.
In 2009, militants and civilians died en masse. Among the wreckage of homes and businesses were the tens of thousands of bodies of adults and children who were slaughtered like animals by the Sri Lankan Army. Bodies were burned to prevent the spread of disease, however large numbers of corpses laid in place for an extended period of time.
Sri Lanka's government sniveled about 'fake video' and 'fake photos' and looked like fools at best; their excuses all fell short; most are not even worthy of discussion. The rest have been disproved. In the end, it was one of the most shameful military affairs carried out in modern history against a country's own population.
Human beings were bombed after being directed into so-called 'safe areas' as we have revealed in past reports. The acts of horror and terror enacted upon this population are among the most barbaric on record.
The media and the politicians can offer their song and dance for missing the ball, but the truth is painfully clear; the acts of mass murder and debauchery were carried out while the world slept. If it actually was a ball game, they could at least be voted out of the league. Instead we are stuck with the members of this profit-driven industry and the results are very grim.
Today through Wikileaks and other sources, we know that American politicians were aware and tried to talk the Sri Lankan government into pulling back but they refused and the UN should have militarily intervened to stop the slaughter.
Of course they did not and then the worst possible thing happened, the last remaining handful of UN observers were removed from the area 'for their own safety' as the Tamils begged them to stay.
It was for so many people, a final good bye to the outside world the day the UN left. Observers on the ground in most cases, tried to avoid being pulled out.
The Tamils were failed on a human world level and their only request all along, was to live with freedom and fairness; clearly this was more than the government was ever willing to allow.
For those who are not familiar, Tamil people are an ethnic group native to three places:
Last weekend, our team had the pleasure of attending the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
I was invited to speak to the main audience of more than 3000 Tamils, about the way media failed to cover the terrible events of 2009. I can not overemphasize how troubling this matter is to the family and friends of the victims.
In discussing our coverage of the conflict, I mistakenly stated on more than one occasion that Salem-News.com didn't cover the events of 2009 until more than a year after they had taken place.
However I discovered today by searching our records, that we did in fact carry two reports about the deadly events in Sri Lanka in 2009; one in March and one in May.
The articles were not tagged properly and consequently failed to show up in our recent searches. As a result, I had convinced myself that we must not have carried them. Locating these articles today was a rewarding discovery.
When I gave the key note address at FeTNA, which is the largest gathering of Tamils held each year in North America, I had several images projected onto the large screen behind me.
Among them were two pieces of artwork that speak to the immense tragedy that befell the reporters and media employees in Sri Lanka who were murdered for reporting from a non-government viewpoint.
One portrays the Sri Lanka press being lured by the government with an ice cream cone that has a razor blade hidden within. Among so much significance, is the deception that the government used to take advantage of these men and women who simply relayed the news of what was taking place.
The other shows the audacity of the Government of Sri Lanka when it came to the reality for so many and that was disappearance and death. The list of these brothers and sisters slain in the name of honest journalism is long and disturbing and the names sadly, continue to mount.
Two facts trouble me greatly about this:
Certain Irrevocable Truths
What was gained by US media in generally ignoring this terrible saga and what was lost?
In my heart as a journalist, I can not find a justification for ignoring genocide or even the suspicion of it.
Media that ignores the worst of all international crimes; specifically those who guide these decisions to cover mindless entertainment-based garbage rather than hard news, are guilty of complicity with this crime on a moral level.
These individuals should have never entered the industry and exist within it for the wrong reasons. Their list of issues include agreeing to the wrong criteria, guiding the public in a way that keeps them unaware of the world's most notorious events, and dismissing an otherwise indisputable obligation to guard humanity in the most general sense.
The future of the people of this planet is always in the hands of the media and when it conducts its business effectively and responsibly, we all benefit from it. Any who view areas like Sri Lanka as out of sight and out of mind, are fooling themselves as well as their audiences.
Prior to my key note address on the evening of 6 July 2012 at FeTNA, Bonnie King and I both spoke to the USTPAC (United States Tamil Political Action Council) event at an adjacent location in Baltimore, with a direct focus on our research of the war crimes in Sri Lanka.
Just before my talk on the afternoon of 6th July was set to begin, it occurred to me that one famous saying perfectly frames what is wrong with the U.S. position toward covering what happened to the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
I asked Bonnie if she could jot it down, which she quickly did... and while we may not have had every word properly as it is listed below, the message fit perfectly into the presentation:
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
- Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
Will 'The Newsroom' Examine Sri Lanka?
A new television program on cable titled 'The Newsroom' involves a critical review of past news events and it merges these realities into a weekly series that causes the viewer to believe there is a ray of hope in the TV broadcast world, and that Edward R. Murrow himself could potentially be reincarnated to lead us all to a new, truthful and uncompromising way.
I wonder if the Genocide of Sri Lanka will become a focus of one of their programs, it would be the best thing they could do to educate Americans about what they missed and why. This idea came up several times at FeTNA and I was happily surprised that many people there were also familiar with this new program.
HBO states this about the program by Aaron Sorkin, creator of 'West Wing':
The Tamil community greatly appreciates the interest our group has shown their cause and the great hope is that other media begins to look at this event and help direct attention toward some of the worst crimes against humanity in recorded history.
 HBO The Newsroom
Jul-01-2012: Did a Ghost Crawl Inside My Laptop?
May-07-2012: Sri Lankan Buddhist Mobs Call for Mosque Demolition
Apr-10-2012: Sri Lanka: Genocide and Poor Toilet Training
Mar-18-2012: Is Google Earth Hiding Sri Lanka's Ghosts?
Mar-11-2012: War Crime Court and its Conflicting Interests
Mar-08-2012: Sex Abuse and Murder in Sri Lanka- New Photos Emerge
Feb-28-2012: Tweets from Tamil Eelam
Feb-24-2012: Two of Sri Lanka's Foulest War Crimes
Nov-24-2011: Fear, Genocide and Torture in Sri Lanka
Oct-15-2011: Genocide 101: World and Media Apathy
Oct-05-2011: War and its Aftermath... a Real Killer for Tourism
Oct-01-2011: Sri Lanka in the Crosshairs of Canadian Parliament
Sep-13-2011: Sri Lanka Recalls Diplomat Accused of War Crimes
Jun-20-2011: Sri Lanka's Violence Toward Tamil Minority Continues
Jun-02-2011: UN Experts: Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide Video is Real
May-31-2011: Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide: Killing the Messenger
May-03-2011: Confronting the Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka
Apr-27-2011: Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka Emerges Into Public View
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.
Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 20+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide with an emphasis on Palestine and Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S. Marines. You can write to Tim at this address: email@example.com. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)
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