BBC's lack of credibility and partiality in reports of Sri Lankan affairs
- British Broadcasting Corporation
To: Editors of the BBC
We the Tamils are disheartened and hurt by the BBC's covering of the issues pertaining to the island of Sri Lanka. The issues mentioned below are in response to reports on the www.news.bbc.co.uk website and BBC News 24.
These include but not limited to:
1.Massacre of civilians in a bus using claymore mines, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
The BBC's Sri Lankan correspondent, Dumeethra Luthra reported on the massacre of innocent civilians in a claymore mine attack in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka and the ensuing aerial attacks by the Sri Lankan government on Tamil positions on BBC News 24 (the video link of the same report on the website is titled 'Why air strikes have been resumed' in the article 'S Lanka air force steps up raids').
In this report she states that the LTTE is "the Key candidate" for this atrocity. She fails to mention the Sri Lankan State forces that have been accused by the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission of extra judicial killings of innocent Tamil civilians in the NE of the island.
As of the 24th of May over 190 Tamil civilians have been killed since the first Geneva talks held on the 22-23 of February 2006. The GOSL (Government of Sri Lanka) has a history of orchestrating violence against the Tamil civilians (1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983 anti-Tamil riots).
The LTTE for its part has been accused of targeting Government soldiers but has not been accused of targeting innocent civilians.
The LTTE has strongly denied the allegation of the claymore attack on the bus and has nothing to gain from this horrendous and disturbing attack targeting civilians.
Why doesn't the Sri Lankan correspondent question the motive for the LTTE to have committed this attack?
Why doesn't the Sri Lankan correspondent assess the beneficiaries of this massacre?
It is the GOSL and/or the elements opposed to peace that benefit from this massacre of innocent civilians.
The Tamils and the LTTE have been further unjustly isolated in the international arena, by the recent proscription of the LTTE as a terrorist group by Canada and the EU. This has emboldened the GOSL to continue the genocide of the Tamils in the hope of subjugating the Tamils abandoned by the international community.
2.Down-playing/Sugar-coating of Government atrocities against innocent Tamil civilians
Initial versions of the report titled "Fresh Sri Lanka clashes kill many" accuses the LTTE of the attack against the Sri Lankan navy and quoted the Sri Lankan Navy accusing the LTTE for the grenade attack on the Mannar church in yesterday's fighting.
The updated version of the same report mentions with ambiguity the Mannar church attack but fails to mention who was involved in the attack.
The reader is left with the impression that the 'non-state' actor (in this case the LTTE) that 'allegedly' initiated the naval attack is responsible for the atrocity on the civilians in the church.
With eyewitness accounts and the presence of an international aid worker, the BBC reports that the Sri Lankan forces attacked the Mannar church in the article titled "Sri Lankan forces 'hit church' ".The report goes on to say that the government denied this but said that the church was "caught in the crossfire". However, it fails to say that the GOSL had initially insisted that it was the work of the LTTE.
Here again the BBC sugar-coats the government atrocity, which was a deliberate NOT 'accidental' attack using a grenade and live gunfire on the 200 or so Tamil civilians seeking refugee in the church. One person was widely reported as killed and many injured.
These sorts of crimes targeting civilians seeking refuge in churches and temples were a common occurrence during the war. The Tamils in the NE are faced with these atrocities even during times of peace with the help of censors of the international media.
3.Tamils from the NE of the island faced with the fear of being victims of state genocide are fleeing in the thousands from the government controlled areas to LTTE controlled areas and to India. The BBC when reporting on the fleeing Tamil civilians refers to the victims as Sri Lankans giving the impression that the Sinhalese are also fleeing. This is NOT true. The people seeking refuge in India and LTTE controlled areas are all Tamil victims.
4.It is also very disheartening to note that the BBC has turned a blind eye to the mass demonstrations, by tens of thousands of Tamils around the globe, against the genocide of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government.
5.It is also very sad to note that articles such as the "Sri Lankan forces 'hit church'" that refers to the Sri Lankan forces' attack on the innocent civilians in the church are only short lived in the South Asia section of the website (It was published at 1:08 GMT on the 18th of June and archived well within 8hrs).
As you have stated in your article titled "Sri Lanka: Truth, bias and the BBC " the news of the Tamil struggle published on the international media especially the BBC (given its presence in Sri Lanka ) are paramount in the midst of FALSE propaganda being issued by the government of Sri Lanka.
We, the undersigned, urge the BBC to report incidents in Sri Lanka with equal vigour, taking into serious account the sufferings of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The Tamils in Sri Lanka live in fear of being victims of this calculated genocide imposed by the Sri Lankan State. We urge the BBC to clearly state that it is the Tamils who are affected as opposed to the "Sri Lankans".
We also feel that the BBC's Sri Lankan correspondent Dumeethra Luthra should be more neutral in her assessments of the issues on the ground and take into consideration the beneficiaries and motives of every incident.
The BBC was once known for its credible and impartial reports on world affairs. When it comes to Sri Lankan affairs the BBC lacks credibility and possible partiality and has on many occasions published reports blindly based on information churned by the GOSL.
When the trincomalle bomb went off in a crowded market on the 12th of April the BBC reported on the casualties and accused the LTTE of the crime based on information generated by the GOSL.
Within 5-10 minutes of the bomb having gone off a group of 100-150 Sinhala men arrived at the scene of the bomb armed with knives and clubs in hand. The mob attacked Tamil civilians and set fire to Tamil businesses and homes using incendiary devices that they 'happened to have with them', under the watchful eyes of the police and security forces. The attacks left more than 3000 homeless and 32 businesses damaged, destroyed or looted. International Humans Rights organisations noted this incident in their reports.
We urge the BBC to not take the bait given by the GOSL, and feel that it is the BBC's duty, to cross check the articles before they are published.
The BBC's lack of credibility and partiality in reports of Sri Lankan affairs petition to British Broadcasting Corporation was written by P.Loganathan and is in the category Media Issues at GoPetition.