The controversial Channel 4 video that was aired
during the UNHRC session and later in Britain
continues to hound Sri Lanka.
On the one hand the film appears to be one of the
worst forms of propaganda of the West, seeking to
demonise one side while lacking any balance
On the other hand Sri Lanka’s failure to adequately
counter its claim that the video is spurious appears
as if the country is guilty of all the allegations.
A top United Nations envoy responsible for
investigating extra-legal executions around the
world has added his voice to those believing the
tape to be genuine.
After commissioning three experts on forensic
pathology, video analysis and firearms to review the
tape, the envoy, Philip Alston, has told the BBC,
“You cannot fake the precise sort of reaction which
the human body makes when shot at close range by
such a weapon.”
This is an indication that the propaganda against
Sri Lanka is becoming stronger by the day.
The question is whether the counter mechanism
devised by the government is adequate to silence the
The entire world knew that Tigers were not just
secessionists, but terrorists.
On that basis, fighting a fierce battle against such
ruthless terrorists could not have been the easiest
thing for the Sri Lankan soldiers.
Expecting to win such a bloody war without
shedding blood could easily be compared to one of
the tales of Shakespeare where in the story of
‘Merchant of Venice’ Shylock is being asked to cut
off a pound of flesh of Antonio without shedding a
drop of blood.
It is only common sense that in a war both fighters
as well as innocent lives are sacrificed. It
happened during the world war I, world war II and it
continues to happen in the wars that are executed
all over the world at present.
However unfortunately, the defence mechanism adopted
by the present government to silence its foes has
been so weak that it has given ample opportunities
for those forces hounding Sri Lanka to continue
The only defence mechanism the government has
devised so far against allegations of war crimes by
the West is letting a university professor qualified
in video technology to comment about the
authenticity of the video. The details of this too
are not in the public domain.
The professor who went before the Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) only made his
remarks in camera. This is making his statement
regarding the video only to the commissioners of
LLRC in private.
Besides, politicians who are not qualified to
talk about a technical issue are making unnecessary
Mere rhetoric, lambasting the UN and the West in
some of the remote villages in Sri Lanka by
handpicked politicians is not going to make any
impact to the counter mechanism the government is
trying put forward.
Even those politicians who do not wish to be quoted
believe that there is no proper plan to get the
world power behind Sri Lanka to nullify the argument
put forward by some of the western countries that go
against Sri Lanka. They still believe the country
lacks proper strategy in dealing with this
Some argue that if Channel 4 is only talking about
war crimes during the last stages of the war, it
should also examine how Sri Lanka, largely an
agrarian and fishing based region was able to
prosecute a war and managed to find the necessary
funds to purchase vast amounts of weapons to conduct
the three decade old war.
They also further observe that if the Channel 4 is
only focusing on the crimes allegedly committed by
the Sri Lankan soldiers then it should also examine
the amazing feat of the same soldiers who evacuated
nearly 400,000 people from the grip of the LTTE.
Call for unity
Leader of the United National Party (UNP) and
opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement
to the press condemning the West for its alleged
plot to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka and further
calling for unity at this crucial juncture was
Wickremesinghe, given his political maturity perhaps
may have understood the gravity of the issue in
sending out a statement of that nature.
If the Sri Lankan government continues to believe
that aggressive denial is the best policy to this
problem, it must be said that the price it pays in
lost credibility is rising.
In this backdrop, The Nation interviewed a few
senior parliamentarians for their reactions
regarding the Channel 4 issue.
Almost all of them in unison have agreed that the
propaganda carried out by the West is a smear
campaign to tarnish the image of the country.
Strong indications are that the West is more annoyed
with the ‘Rajapaksa brothers’ who they say defied
all orders and requests for a ceasefire during the
last stages of the war.
However when asked as to why the government
consistently claimed the video is fake without
providing adequate evidence that the gruesome scene
was staged or the footage tampered with, none of
them could provide The Nation proper responses.
Nothing will happen - DEW
Senior minister DEW Gunesekara feels the western
campaign will ultimately not hold water and he
believes it will lead to a natural death.
His contention is that when the world is gripped on
a daily basis with loads of problems, issues,
catastrophes and so on, this matter will soon be
dropped like a hot brick sooner or later.
He says when the world situation is changing faster
than ever before and the economic plus the political
powers are also changing, this issue will be
He said the super powers including the EU have their
own shares of problems and they may not find time to
focus on Sri Lanka. “This is just another campaign.
That is all,” he said.
However he said that the mistake the government made
was not to publicise what it has done after the war.
He further said the government also could have
expedited the reconciliation process immediately
after the war.
He said when UN Secretary General visited Sri Lanka
he was the one who accompanied him to the airport
and added the UNSG was rather impressed with the
government’s effort to win the war.
“In fact he told the CNN the same thing. But it is
after this that he was also brainwashed,” he said.
He said this is an internal problem and should be
dealt with internally. He also said this is what Sri
Lanka had to expect from her adversaries.
We must woo world power - Vitharana
According to senior minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana
the campaign is clearly designed to discredit
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and also to sling mud at
his two brothers.
He said it is a targeted video which has been
prepared to throw mud on the Rajapaksas. “I think
the mug shot what is put in the film is fabricated
and untrue,” he said.
He said whether this was done as a revenge against
the Rajapaksas or not, it was grossly unfair.
The minister said firstly it was necessary to
logically expose the contents that are found in the
video. Then he said secondly, the government must
win the public opinion on to the government side
which he added is a huge task that is before the
government at present.
Thirdly he said, the government must garner the
support of the world power to support Sri Lanka.
Prof. Vitharana welcoming Ranil Wickremesinghe’s
statement said he was personally happy that the main
opposition has not so far tried to betray the
country but is willing to support the government.
“I personally feel that the Ban Ki-moon inspired
panel report and the Channel 4 video are directed
towards one objective – to get a regime change. It
is very clear from these campaigns. The west is
trying to build a case against the President to try
him at the international court of justice,” he said.
Having said this, the experienced politician said
that Sri Lanka should never underestimate the forces
that are against the country.
“We must appreciate the power the west has over
media and act accordingly. We are a small country.
We can’t behave as if we are a big country. We must
get the world power behind us and nullify the
argument put forward by countries with vested
interests. We have to tackle with a clear plan”.
“At present we are only responding on an issue by
issue basis but we need to consider the overall
campaign and do something. We have to meet each and
every issue and have a total approach that will
“We should set up a suitably impartial body of our
own within the country that would be respected to
look into those charges and see whether there is any
substance. And if there is we have to take action,”
Govt. should disprove it – Kiriella
UNP parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella who supported
his leader’s statement, while calling for unity
among parties to fight against this campaign said it
was now up to the government to disprove what is
said by the west.
He said the UNP was very concerned about the
country’s image being tarnished and added he was
more worried that the country’s image was being
marred because of the present government.
He blamed the government for not taking adequate
steps to devise a process of counter mechanism two
years ago when the video was shown.
Citing examples from the Gaza strip he said when
there were serious allegations of war crimes against
Israel in the Gaza strip attack the UN produced a
similar report like the Darusman report. But added
Israel did not totally reject the report but instead
carried out an internal investigation into the
allegations and produced a stronger report to the UN
“Then there were two reports. One report of the UN
and the other of Israel. This is what the UPFA
government should have done without rejecting the
report outright. It is only proper to disprove an
allegation. Even if a false case is filed against
somebody in the court, he/she has to go to courts to
disprove it. Simple as that,” he said.
He said there was no point in the government trying
to clarify the report and deny the video inside the
country. “The government should do it outside,’ he
He also said the government has in the recent past
lost its strength to negotiate with whom it felt
were its opponents like the trade unions, the media,
and the opposition parties. “This is not a good
sign,” he added.
However he said that the UNP will do anything to
safeguard the integrity of the country.
“Though we say that we have not violated human
rights, is any other country then saying that we are
safeguarding human rights. This shows there is
something wrong and all what we say is for the
government to clear its name and the name of the
country,” he added.
Nothing but double standard – Gammanpilla
Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) legal advisor and western
province minister Udaya Gammanpilla pointed out that
Sri Lanka has earned the wrath of the west simply
because President Rajapaksa defied its orders to
declare a ceasefire during the last stages of the
“This is the only anger the west has against us.
When Bin Laden and his wife were murdered by the US
when the duo did not possess any weapons was there
any question raised?
“When the US invaded Afghanistan to capture Bin
Laden and killed nearly 800,000 civilians there was
no question. After killing nearly 800,000 only the
US realised Bin Laden was not in Afghanistan but in
Pakistan. Did anybody question the US? Why is that?
This is double standard. This shows the
international community is ready to single out Sri
Lanka to punish us,” he said.
However he said if the video is proved to be
authentic and if that is confirmed by the government
then those responsible should be severely punished.
He said during the 1971 JVP insurrection one
Premavathi Manamperi was raped and killed by some
soldiers but upon finding out the culprits the then
government took immediate action to prosecute and
Then, he said during the second insurrection of JVP
from 1987 to 89 there were several allegations of
civilian killings and the then President Chandrika
Kumaratunga took stern action to punish them.
He also cited Suriyakanda and Hokandara murder cases
and said in both cases the culprits were severely
punished by the state.
He said even in the recent FTZ incident the police
chief was asked to leave and several policemen
transferred due to the death of a youngster.
“So Sri Lanka has a history of punishing the
military whenever they abused their powers. So in
the similar manner, I say that if the video is
proved authentic we have to punish the culprits if
they are found guilty,” he said.
Not even the country’s best soothsayer could predict
the fate of Sri Lanka in the days to come following
the war crimes allegations.
This issue could resurface in September this year at
the UN. As assumed by some the issue could go
underground or could be taken seriously depending on
the reactions of the government.
As indications of further trying to fix Sri Lanka by
the west are lucid, it is only proper for the
government to put its acts together and formulate a
strategy that would permanently put the lid on the
allegations of the west.
For this, the government must garner the support of
all the parties and not try it alone.