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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
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Aussie cowboy journalist claims carnage in Sri Lanka PDF Print E-mail

“A civil war of merciless atrocity, in which tens of thousands of Tamils have been killed recently by the Sri Lankan army, came to an end last month when army troops finally occupied the territory controlled by the Tamil Tigers in north-east Sri Lanka,” writes Peter Westmore for the Australian magazine News Weekly and was published today June 25, 2009.

From the Editors of Sri Lanka Watch

He titled his feature:
“ SRI LANKA: Mass carnage of Tamil in war without witnesses.”

Peter Westmore goes on to claim: “While the war has ended, the underlying causes of the civil war have not been addressed, and, arguably, have been exacerbated. The Tamil people, predominantly Hindu, are descendants of people who were brought to Sri Lanka by the British in the 19th century to work in the tea and coconut plantations. Their descendants now constitute around 15 per cent of the population.”
And that is what this Aussie Cowboy writer knows about Sri Lanka. At least he could have checked the facts before writing this feature or hired to do so with the obvious view to slander Sri Lanka without realizing that the country has successfully wiped out the most brutal terror force in the world.
Obviously Peter Westmore is pandering to the base communal passions of the pro-LTTE Diaspora in Australia and no journalist with any sense of integrity would have embarked on such an enterprise of, as they say in Sri Lanka, burying the whole pumpkin into a plate of rice. Or in Aussie way, it would be like calling a kangaroo a cockatoo; even more, the natives of Australia are Anglo-Saxons.

Emphasizing that the Tamils belong to a separate culture and woefully ignorant of the Hindu roots of Buddhism and the pride of place Hinduism enjoys in Buddhist temples, Westmore says: “Most of the rest of the people are Sinhalese. They are Buddhist, and have their own language and culture.”
The rest of the Westmore feature runs thus:

“Since Sri Lanka gained independence over 60 years ago, successive Sinhalese governments have discriminated against the Tamil minority, beginning with the disenfranchisement of plantation workers in 1949, establishment of Sinhala as the national language in 1956, and repeated anti-Tamil riots which have forced many to live as refugees or outcasts in Sri Lanka.

“Although there were several Tamil-based political parties, the polarization of the country was evident when the separatist Tamil United Liberation Front won all seats in Tamil areas in elections in 1977.

“When discrimination and anti-Tamil violence continued, the Tamils took up arms, leading to the commencement of civil war in 1983. One of the Tamil groups which emerged in this period was the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), known universally as the Tamil Tigers.
It was founded by an extreme and violent Tamil nationalist, Veluppilai Prabharkaran, who initially waged a war against other Tamil groups as well as against the Sri Lankan government.

“Prabharkaran pioneered the use of suicide-bombers, including female suicide-bombers - one of whom killed the Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991, after Indian peace-keepers were introduced into Tamil areas. The Tigers raised large amounts of money from Sri Lankan exiles in various countries. In 1996, Tamil Tigers suicide-bombers drove a truck laden with explosives into the Central Bank of Colombo, killing 90 and injuring a further 1,400 people, most of whom were Sri Lankan civilians.

“At its strongest, the Tigers controlled as much as a third of Sri Lanka. After the attack on the World Trade Center, New York, on September 11, 2001, the Tamil Tigers were put on an international terrorist list, and many governments took action to freeze the funds of the Tamil Diaspora which were fuelling the civil war in Sri Lanka.

“After the last cease-fire collapsed in 2006, the Sri Lankan army commenced a war of attrition against the Tamil Tigers in the north-east of the island. Since then, an increasingly bitter war has taken place as the Sri Lankan army, using its substantial military might, pushed the Tamil Tigers into a smaller and smaller perimeter in the north-east of Sri Lanka.

“The Tamil Tigers reportedly used civilians as human shields. The Sri Lankan army simply ignored the plight of the civilians and continued to fight on, refusing to allow any humanitarian organizations, media or UN agencies to monitor the situation.”
Westmore makes a ludicrous claim that the Sri Lankan Army simply ignored the plight of the civilians and continued to fight on . . . . . . . and his contention is that humanitarian organizations, media or UN agencies were refused to monitor the situation. Surely ne would have had some idea thousands of civilians were saved because the Sri Lankan Armed Forces were determined to ensure that the 300, 000 held ransom captive by the LTTE walk back to freedom and that is what they succeeded in doing. It was only the LTTE that was firing at those who were fleeing from their horrendous captivity.
Then he embarks on the role of China and makes references to India and the governments of the west in respect of arms. He is indeed green and adolescent in matters of international arms trade. Even the LTTE was able to get arms manufactured in the west and Norway, the LTTE godfather and world’s 6th largest arms manufacturer was no exception.

On China, India and the West, Westmore says: “The London Times reported that China appears to have become the biggest arms supplier to Sri Lanka in the 1990s when India and Western governments refused to sell weapons to Colombo to use in its civil war. "Beijing appears to have increased its arms sales significantly to Sri Lanka since 2007 when the United States suspended military aid amid human rights concerns (The Times, May 15, 2009).”

The conjectural nature of Westmore feature is packed with “appears” and cowboy journalists often take cover under such hypothesis. Its better that he informs himself of how arms are made available to various countries either through official agreements or through illegal shipments by far the biggest method and the LTTE also operates as an underworld arms carrier. If he was hired to write this feature, he should address this question to those who paid him to indulge in such unfounded claims. 
Westmore now turns to the United Nations in support of his contentions. He would have been wiser to have checked the reactions to the claims made by the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Madame Navi Pillay whose entire data came from LTTE sources including Tamilnet, the LTTE news constructor. 
Westmore says: “Although the United Nations' local representatives knew of the brutality and barbarity of the fighting, when West European countries raised the matter at the United Nations, the UN Human Rights Council refused point blank to consider the matter.

“The UN Human Rights Council instead considered a resolution submitted by Sri Lanka itself, which welcomed the "liberation" of tens of thousands of the island's citizens, condemned the defeated Tamil Tigers, made no mention of the shelling of civilians and kept silent on the desperate need to allow the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups into the camps where some 200,000 Tamil civilians have been forcibly interned.

“The UN's whitewash of recent events in Sri Lanka, and the continued detention of hundreds of thousands of Tamils in what are virtually prison camps, will reinforce the council's critics in the West. The UN Human Rights Council's decision was strongly supported by China, Russia, India and Pakistan, all of whom supported the Sri Lankan resolution, on the grounds that the conflict there was an internal matter and that the council should not intervene in it.

And as a final swipe from his pen, Westmore slashes: “They were supported by Asian and Muslim countries, also wary of outside inspection of their own human rights record, who also saw this as a precedent for similar votes in the future.”
Peter Westmore in writing this feature not only exposed his limitations as a journalist to study, research and analyze but also the journalistic shallowness and the addiction for sensation that seems to be the rule in the West.
All we can say is “Tut Tut Mr Westmore” and be honest and sincere in your profession because we are Fourth Estate of the Realms and this is a sacred obligation.


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