Engage Sri Lanka’s media monitoring project, Sri Lanka Media Watch, has called upon Britain’s Channel 4 News programme to choose between legitimate journalism and advocacy propaganda in its focus on Sri Lanka.
In its most recent programme, “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished”, screened on 14 March 2012, Channel 4 News sought to make new claims regarding the last few weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war, fought between the government and LTTE rebels, which ended in May 2009. This was the second hour-long programme made by Channel 4 News on the subject. The coordinator of Sri Lanka Media Watch, Peter Walker, restated the comment he made about the first programme: “There is a name for those courts in which one person is the accuser, judge and jury: a kangaroo court. Channel 4’s programme was the journalist equivalent of such a court. Snow and his colleagues should stick to tabloid journalism, they make very poor lawyers.”
The second programme was very little more than a rehashing of the distorted and sensationalist claims made in the first programme. Channel 4 News once again ignored the well-documented fact that the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught up in the last weeks of fighting had been forced into the combat zone by the LTTE, who bore the resultant responsibility for any casualties. Similarly, while claiming that Sri Lankan forces shelled no-fire zones they themselves had established, Channel 4 News once again ignored clear evidence that these areas were actually shelled and mortared by the LTTE and that the LTTE themselves fired from within the no-fire zones, often from the vicinity of hospitals. Channel 4 News also once again made claims about questionable video and mobile phone footage unsupported by the findings of the UN special rapporteur. Similarly, while claiming that the government had a policy of killing those members of the LTTE who had either surrendered or been taken prisoner, Channel 4 News ignored the fact that more than 11,000 LTTE were taken into custody – most of which have been subsequently released.
Sri Lanka Media Watch coordinator Peter Walker concluded that,
“In their rush to screen this latest programme in time to try to influence the meetings of the UN Human Rights Council inGeneva, Channel 4 News has produced yet another flawed programme. Channel 4 News’ attention to detail is such that they are evidently unaware of who holds the portfolio of Sri Lanka Minister of Defence. This programme is yet another example of a self-selecting, white western elite seeking to interfere in the internal affairs of a developing country emerging from decades of civil war on the basis of flawed ‘advocacy’ propaganda. Channel 4 News’ self-indulgence is underminingSri Lanka’s peace and reconciliation process and prejudicing ongoing legitimate investigations into the events of May 2009.”
By: Engage Sri Lanka
– Sinhalaya News Agency