BBC parrots  Tiger propaganda without checking

Tamil protesters holding placards take part in a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Wednesday, April 29, 2009.

Believe it or not, BBC has a set new standard in reporting stories which they admit cannot be confirmed, verified or reveal from where and when they originated.  .

The hourly news bulletins of Monday 11, 2009 ran pictures of a house burning along with the wreckage of bus in No Fire Zone which it’s Colombo-based reporter Damian Grammaticus said was sent by a "Tamil pressure group purported to be within the (No Fire) zone and claims to be the aftermath of shelling on Sunday (May 10, 2009). " (See bbc.com/news (video) — Monday May 11, 2009). 

Then he makes the next stunning statement: "It is impossible to confirm where or when it was taken."  So when a news agency runs pictures sent by the Tamil Tiger propagandists, with the reporter saying that "it is impossible to confirm where or when it was taken" what does it say of the news agency running it? Irresponsible journalism? Propagandists for Tamil Tigers? Just plain naïve idiots? Or all three?

This reporting of Grammaticus is typical of the slanted standards of BBC reporting. It is ever ready to run anti-Sri Lanka stories which it admits "is impossible to confirm", or reveal "where and when it (the picture) was taken." Imagine for a moment what the response would be if the Sri Lankan state-run TV station ran doctored pictures and fabricated stories against the Tamil Tigers saying that it is "impossible to confirm where or when it was taken". Even the discredited Free Media Movement would raise a howl of protests, quite correctly too, saying that the state media is abusing its powers to mislead the people with mischievous propaganda.  

The fundamental responsibility of a news agency is to quote or source their stories to credible and verifiable authorities who are not necessarily neutral but who are knowledgeable. If all media agencies start producing news quoting sources that cannot be verified or authoritative what is going to be its reputation as a reliable news source? So when Grammaticus admits that "it is impossible to confirm where or when it was taken" (though he knew it came from the Tiger camp which means it was pure propaganda) what can the public deduce from such reporting? Are we to call it the British Broadcasting Corporation? Or are we to call it the British Bull-dust Corporation? BBC should have enough expertise to adhere to the elementary principle in journalism which says: when in doubt leave it out.

There are limits to propagandizing and Damian Grammaticus, is no better than his predecessor, the one-eyed Chris Morris, who was posted to Sri Lanka earlier, These horror stories come at a critical time when the last weapon available to the Tamil Tigers and its agents is to whip up hysteria about the humanitarian crisis in the last strip of land occupied by them. In the past, when the Tigers were having the upper hand, they used to send either suicide bombers or unleash violence to coincide with the arrivals of Yashushi Akashi, one of the Co-Chairs, or the Norwegians just to impress that their military clout is greater than that of the government.

Now that they have halted those suicidal operations (temporarily, no doubt)  they are producing sob stories in the form of humanitarian tragedies on a mass scale hoping that the international community would step in to halt the war and save the Tigers. As in the past, the Tamil leadership is relying on Tamil corpses to survive. They need corpses and tragedies to survive now. This is the way they can crank up propaganda to win global sympathy, however limited and ineffective it may be.. The BBC is playing the role of a willing partner, going to the extent of reproducing pictures sent by the Tamil Tigers within the No Fire Zone which are bound to cast serious doubts about their veracity and intent. BBC is struggling to paint a grim picture with colours, brushes and themes borrowed from the Tamil Tigers. Even if the pictures are authentic the borrowings from suspicious sources make BBC look like suckers for peddling Tiger propaganda.  

Anonymous, unidentified, unknown sources can produce anything that suits anyone’s sinister agenda. It is the responsibility of a news agency to check, check and check — the three key words in reporting events. If reproducing unverified stories and pictures is the best that Grammaticus can come up with what is the need for the BBC to have him posted in Colombo? Grammaticus could sit in London and produce any amount of stories which are "impossible to confirm" by visiting the local Tiger centre in and around London!

This is a classic example of where the Tamil Tigers are feeding the gullible media chooks parachuted into the Sri Lankan. They will swallow any muck fed to them and pass it off as news. The Tamil Tigers – hats off to them – have been successful in manipulating the Western media with tear-jerking stories of the underdog being oppressed the aggressive Sinhala-Buddhist majority. An angry government has begun to deal aggressively with these Western journalists who are ever willing to sensationalize the humanitarian crisis not with an eye to save the helpless victims from the clutches of those using them for their political ends but to perpetuate and prolong the agony of Tamils trapped in the clutches of the Tigers. Along with those INGOs and NGOs beating their chests about human rights they do not target the Tamil Tigers – the prime cause of the crisis — but the government which is faced with the overwhelming problems that spill over from Tiger terror tactics. .

No one denies that there is a massive humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka. But before rushing to pass media judgments there is the elementary need to analyze the crisis to assess as to who is primarily responsible for it and what can be done to remove the obstacles exacerbating the crisis. No sensible analysts would expect all killings to stop in the middle of a war. War is about killing and destroying and however cruel it may sound the best that can be expected in a war situation is to minimize death and destruction. If, however, any party to a war is deliberately putting the lives of civilians at risk to save the skins of the war-mongers then the guilt and the total responsibility for the deaths and destruction lie with that party.

For instance, the final tactic of the Tamil Tigers, after the Tamil civilians began to flee the war zone into the safety of government-controlled areas, is to round up all the civilians and move them to the centre of the last remaining spot in the conflict zone where they cannot escape the ring of Tiger cadres surrounding them. After the military operations that breached the embankment of the Tigers opened the way for the mass exodus of Tamil civilians on April 20 the Tigers have now adopted the latest tactic of herding them to the centre and fencing them with a ring of their cadres to prevent them from escaping the conflict zone.

Unlike Grammaticus let me quote a knowledgeable source, D. B. S. Jeyaraj, a Tamil columnist who has access to Tamils trapped in the last hole of the Tigers in….. Jeyaraj reported: "The 58 division under Brig. Shavendra Silva was moving in a south-eastern direction further into the Mullivaaikkaal region.

"Likewise the 53 division under Gen. Kamal Gunaratne was also moving further into the region in a north–eastern direction.

"Col" Velavan of the LTTE was in charge of tiger defences in this front

"The LTTE has moved the civilians into the middle at both ends in a bid to avoid a repetition of the April 20th operation in which more than a 100,000 civilians fled from the LTTE controlled area.

"This was due to the Army reaching the "Bund cum Trench" defences of the LTTE. The people living within proximity to the bund were able to escape easily

"Now the LTTE has moved the people inwards and keeps the area around its forward defence line devoid of civilians."

This means that the Tamil Tigers have tightened the grip on the Tamil civilians by taking them away from places where they can escape into safe havens outside the war-zone. Instead of releasing the civilians the Tigers are going all out to keep them within their grip for what? Not to save them but to sacrifice them. The Tigers also refused to heed the request of Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, to release the Tamil civilians.

The criminality of this act of using helpless Tamil civilians as the human shield is an unforgivable crime. This is a mockery of all the pieties and the heroism proclaimed by the Jaffna Tamil leadership which was boasting only the other day that they had defeated the fourth largest army in the world, India. When the Tamil leaders, who boastfully proclaimed that they were committed to save the Tamils from the Sinhalese, are hiding behind the Tamil people, exposing them to the guns of the advancing forces, it means that their futile and aggressive politics have turned inward ferociously to attack the very people who had protected the Jaffna-centric leaders so far with despicable savagery of wild beasts.

It is barbaric for armed saviours to hide behind unarmed civilians. The Tamils in the diaspora who are worked up about the plight of the Tamils trapped in hell-hole of Prabhakaran, are refusing to ask the simple question:  who is saving whom?  The plight of Prabhakaran, the rooster of yesterday on his way to become feather duster tomorrow, would have been a hilarious comedy if not for the tragic consequences to the Tamil people. All along it is the helpless and misled Tamil people who had to pay for the colossal follies of their over-ambitious leaders. Now that their political myths of invincibility, the creation of Eelam and the flesh of soldiers who dare to enter Killinochchi", (according to a broadcast of Tamil Tigers in Melbourne), have been blown up sky high the Tiger leadership and their agents in the disapora should have the nous to admit that the time has come to let the Tamil people go in search of their freedom.

The rudderless, derelict and confused Tamil diaspora, unexpectedly faced with the collapse of the man who was backed by their millions, are now in the same boat as those who invested in Lalith Kotalewela’s Golden Key Card – another pious saviour who failed to deliver his promises. Not knowing where to turn the Tamils continue to scapegoat the Government of Sri Lanka. They wrap themselves in the Tiger flag – the most obscene flag without any redeeming features in it – and parade in the main highways of Western capitals hoping to block the advance of the army like they way they are blocking traffic in Toronto, Sydney and London.

Like the Tamil Tigers they have now adopted the tactic of putting children in front to face the Police in Western capitals. Their obstructionist tactic is drawing a severe backlash against them in the West. They are driven primarily by the emotional fizz of ignorance and ethnic extremism. They are all whistling in the wind not knowing how the wheels of global and Sri Lankan politics work. . If they think that stopping the traffic in West is going to stop the war in Sri Lanka then they must get their heads examined. Nor is their counter-productive tactic of disrupting the smooth flow of daily life in the West going to win them sympathy. Their climbing the Westminster Abbey in London only increases the height from which they are going to fall. These are laughable stunts of desperadoes that are as comic as Karunanidhi launching a fasting protest in an air-conditioned room surrounded by his cronies.

Nothing they do can save Prabhakaran now. But then, as they say, none are so blind as those who refuse to see.

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