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Jul-12-2012 09:16printcommentsVideo

US Media's Role in the Silent Death of Sri Lanka's Tamils

Warning: article contains Extremely Graphic images!

Age posed no boundary for Sri Lankan troops as they waged their final assault on the country's Tamil population.
Age posed no boundary for Sri Lankan troops as they waged their final assault on the country's Tamil population.

(SALEM) - War crimes ravaged the Tamil population of Sri Lanka only three years ago as the world looked away in a grotesque type of silence.

The genocidal path of this government toward its minority culture is an extension of the crimes against Tamils that have been underway since the island nation gained independence from Great Britain in 1948.

Pre-meditated murder is among the darkest of crimes, multiply it by at least 40,000, and you begin to see that the violent acts of this government are of a particularly unthinkable nature. Look more closely and you see that 160,000 Tamil people failed to exist at the end of the war. Many are held in camps, but sources in the north say most of the missing are dead.

The tools to avoid this extraordinary loss of human life were available, but most of the American press was asleep at the wheel when it comes to this story and they have still to awaken to the reality of what happened, or their role in this unprecedented human disaster.

In an article titled Sri Lanka: Genocide of the Tamil minority in January 2009, Dr. Brian Senewiratne wrote:

    "There is a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, where the Tamil minority in the island's north and east are facing annihilation at the hands of the Sinhalese-dominated government."[1]

Never were so few words so true, yet a crystal ball was not required; those paying attention could see that death was calling out to the Tamils in a mocking voice. They would die in some of the most horrible ways as these photos attest.

Warning: Very disturbing images from April 2009

Dr Brian Senewiratne

Brian Senewiratne's prophetic words came before the genocide's ugliest and deadliest, final four months.

Today he lives in Australia, but this noted writer hails from Sri Lanka's Sinhalese Buddhist majority population. He is unique for his journalistic accomplishments and for being such a tireless humanitarian activist, yet his position typifies that of many Sinhala Buddhists who decry and deplore what took place in the north under Rajapakse's orders. This is important.

Years after it was published, Brian Senewiratne's article is still easy to locate on Google. In fact it is the first search result under 'Sri Lanka genocide'.

The simple point is that there were no secrets; the Sri Lankan government went to great lengths to silence its critics, but the UN was in place until the very end and their observations were public for anyone who cared to look or listen.

If we were able to cover this event as a small Internet news agency, why were those with real resources not able to do the same? There were people in the UN willing to release information; content was available then and in the ensuing time it has only grown in both volume and intensity and all of the major human rights organizations have paid attention, yet the media fails to follow their lead also.

The warnings were dire and clear; they just have not been viewed with concern from those who produce the news and make no mistake about the power of the media; these are the people who could have collectively brought the Tamils relief simply by doing their jobs.

July- the Tamil's Black History Month

Sri Lanka's morally bankrupt political leaders began accelerating the pace of their Tamil ethnic cleansing program from the time current President Majinda Rajapakse took office in 2005.

This state terrorism regime had the resistance force that defended Tamils, the Liberation Tiers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), declared a terrorist organization and this was the key that unlocked Sri Lanka's final solution toward their minority Hindu and Christian ethnic enemies.

The more I study the history of this conflict, the more I see a pattern of the Tamil Tigers having attacked military installations and soldiers, and Tamil civilians being attacked in return.

Yet the LTTE is the side that was declared as a terrorist group and the dubious designation was pushed through due to the efforts of George W. Bush and Tony Blair- who were prepared to label all of their self-perceived enemies as terrorists as the record clearly shows.

One of the most unforgettable examples of Tamils being terrorized, happened in 1983 during what became known as 'Black July'. More than 4000 Tamil civilians were murdered by angry Sinhala Buddhist mobs who raped and burned and murdered innocent civilians faster than they could escape.

No excuses exist to justify what occurred
particularly to children, during the Tamil genocide

In 2009, militants and civilians died en masse. Among the wreckage of homes and businesses were the tens of thousands of bodies of adults and children who were slaughtered like animals by the Sri Lankan Army. Bodies were burned to prevent the spread of disease, however large numbers of corpses laid in place for an extended period of time.

Sri Lanka's government sniveled about 'fake video' and 'fake photos' and looked like fools at best; their excuses all fell short; most are not even worthy of discussion. The rest have been disproved. In the end, it was one of the most shameful military affairs carried out in modern history against a country's own population.

Human beings were bombed after being directed into so-called 'safe areas' as we have revealed in past reports. The acts of horror and terror enacted upon this population are among the most barbaric on record.

The media and the politicians can offer their song and dance for missing the ball, but the truth is painfully clear; the acts of mass murder and debauchery were carried out while the world slept. If it actually was a ball game, they could at least be voted out of the league. Instead we are stuck with the members of this profit-driven industry and the results are very grim.

Today through Wikileaks and other sources, we know that American politicians were aware and tried to talk the Sri Lankan government into pulling back but they refused and the UN should have militarily intervened to stop the slaughter.

Of course they did not and then the worst possible thing happened, the last remaining handful of UN observers were removed from the area 'for their own safety' as the Tamils begged them to stay.

It was for so many people, a final good bye to the outside world the day the UN left. Observers on the ground in most cases, tried to avoid being pulled out.

The Tamils were failed on a human world level and their only request all along, was to live with freedom and fairness; clearly this was more than the government was ever willing to allow.

For those who are not familiar, Tamil people are an ethnic group native to three places:

    Puducherry or 'Pondicherry'; (as it was renamed in 2006) - a Union Territory of India formed out of four enclaves of former French India. The name means "New village" in Tamil.

    Tamil Nadu; the most urbanised state in India, has been the home of the Tamil people since at least 500 BCE. Its official language Tamil has been in use for over 2000 years.

    Tamil Eelam is the independent state Tamils aspire to create in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Evidence of Tamil culture here dates as far back as 2nd century BC.[2][3][4]

Image by Carlos Latuff

Last weekend, our team had the pleasure of attending the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

10 May 2009: UN Says Urgent International Scrutiny Needed in Sri Lanka

15 March 2009: Sri Lanka: Possible War Crimes

I was invited to speak to the main audience of more than 3000 Tamils, about the way media failed to cover the terrible events of 2009. I can not overemphasize how troubling this matter is to the family and friends of the victims.

In discussing our coverage of the conflict, I mistakenly stated on more than one occasion that didn't cover the events of 2009 until more than a year after they had taken place.

However I discovered today by searching our records, that we did in fact carry two reports about the deadly events in Sri Lanka in 2009; one in March and one in May.

The articles were not tagged properly and consequently failed to show up in our recent searches. As a result, I had convinced myself that we must not have carried them. Locating these articles today was a rewarding discovery.

When I gave the key note address at FeTNA, which is the largest gathering of Tamils held each year in North America, I had several images projected onto the large screen behind me.

Among them were two pieces of artwork that speak to the immense tragedy that befell the reporters and media employees in Sri Lanka who were murdered for reporting from a non-government viewpoint.

Tim King at FeTNA 2012 discussing Sri Lanka war crimes. Photo: Agron Belica

One portrays the Sri Lanka press being lured by the government with an ice cream cone that has a razor blade hidden within. Among so much significance, is the deception that the government used to take advantage of these men and women who simply relayed the news of what was taking place.

The other shows the audacity of the Government of Sri Lanka when it came to the reality for so many and that was disappearance and death. The list of these brothers and sisters slain in the name of honest journalism is long and disturbing and the names sadly, continue to mount.

Two facts trouble me greatly about this:

  • One is how the outcry against the way this government laid waste to innocents is loud around the world,
  • and the other is the fact that Americans are vastly unaware of this terrible event.

Certain Irrevocable Truths

What was gained by US media in generally ignoring this terrible saga and what was lost?

In my heart as a journalist, I can not find a justification for ignoring genocide or even the suspicion of it.

Media that ignores the worst of all international crimes; specifically those who guide these decisions to cover mindless entertainment-based garbage rather than hard news, are guilty of complicity with this crime on a moral level.

These individuals should have never entered the industry and exist within it for the wrong reasons. Their list of issues include agreeing to the wrong criteria, guiding the public in a way that keeps them unaware of the world's most notorious events, and dismissing an otherwise indisputable obligation to guard humanity in the most general sense.

The future of the people of this planet is always in the hands of the media and when it conducts its business effectively and responsibly, we all benefit from it. Any who view areas like Sri Lanka as out of sight and out of mind, are fooling themselves as well as their audiences.

Prior to my key note address on the evening of 6 July 2012 at FeTNA, Bonnie King and I both spoke to the USTPAC (United States Tamil Political Action Council) event at an adjacent location in Baltimore, with a direct focus on our research of the war crimes in Sri Lanka.

New Song 'Depression' - Graphic Truth of Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide- Song by
Agron Belica,
news article by Tim King This is an extremely graphic... visual tour of the Tamil Genocide.

Just before my talk on the afternoon of 6th July was set to begin, it occurred to me that one famous saying perfectly frames what is wrong with the U.S. position toward covering what happened to the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

I asked Bonnie if she could jot it down, which she quickly did... and while we may not have had every word properly as it is listed below, the message fit perfectly into the presentation:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.
    - Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)[6]

Will 'The Newsroom' Examine Sri Lanka?

A new television program on cable titled 'The Newsroom' involves a critical review of past news events and it merges these realities into a weekly series that causes the viewer to believe there is a ray of hope in the TV broadcast world, and that Edward R. Murrow himself could potentially be reincarnated to lead us all to a new, truthful and uncompromising way.

I wonder if the Genocide of Sri Lanka will become a focus of one of their programs, it would be the best thing they could do to educate Americans about what they missed and why. This idea came up several times at FeTNA and I was happily surprised that many people there were also familiar with this new program.

HBO states this about the program by Aaron Sorkin, creator of 'West Wing':

    "Focusing on a network anchor (played by Jeff Daniels), his new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), the newsroom staff (John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel) and their boss (Sam Waterston), the series tracks their quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles-not to mention their own personal entanglements."[5]

The Tamil community greatly appreciates the interest our group has shown their cause and the great hope is that other media begins to look at this event and help direct attention toward some of the worst crimes against humanity in recorded history.


[1] Sri Lanka: Genocide of the Tamil minority

[2] Pondicherry - Wikipedia

[3] Tamil Nadu - Wikipedia

[4] Tamil Eelam - Wikipedia

[5] HBO The Newsroom

[6] First they came... - Wikipedia

Tim King's previous reports on Sri Lanka:

Jul-09-2012: Significant Honor With Tamils from Around the Globe for Sri Lanka War Crime Reports

Jul-01-2012: Did a Ghost Crawl Inside My Laptop?

Jun-24-2012: Sri Lanka Can't Deny This... Disturbing Video Proves Sri Lanka Army Committed War Crimes - Tim King

Jun-21-2012: New War Crime Videos Surface from Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide

Jun-10-2012: UN Targets Reporter Who Criticized Sri Lanka War Crime Suspect

Jun-08-2012: Captive, Handcuffed and Dying... 'Brutal' and 'Shocking' Describe Newly Released Sri Lanka War Crime Images

May-07-2012: Sri Lankan Buddhist Mobs Call for Mosque Demolition

Apr-27-2012: Big Trouble for Sri Lanka: UN Has Cluster Bomb Evidence from Northern Province

Apr-12-2012: Carpetbaggers in Sri Lanka: Traitors Terrorize Northern Tamils

Apr-10-2012: Sri Lanka: Genocide and Poor Toilet Training

Mar-23-2012 UN Warns Sri Lanka Against Retaliating Toward Humanitarian Activists

Mar-22-2012: White Flags, White Vans and White Lies? A Closer Look at the Death of Colonel Ramesh

Mar-18-2012: Is Google Earth Hiding Sri Lanka's Ghosts?

Mar-15-2012: Channel-4 Documentary Proves Sri Lanka Committed War Crimes

Mar-11-2012: War Crime Court and its Conflicting Interests

Mar-08-2012: Sex Abuse and Murder in Sri Lanka- New Photos Emerge

Mar-02-2012: A Very Uncivil War - Ghastly Images- Gross Detail and Denial of Sri Lanka's Genocide

Feb-28-2012: Americans Praise Sri Lankan Politicians who Orchestrated Genocide

Feb-28-2012: Tweets from Tamil Eelam

Feb-24-2012: Two of Sri Lanka's Foulest War Crimes

Feb-19-2012: Will Another Documentary on Sri Lanka's Genocide Impact the Geneva Human Rights Session?

Feb-08-2012: The Questionable Effectiveness of Lighting Yourself on Fire

Feb-03-2012: Sri Lanka's Independence Day- a Black Day for Tamil Eelam

Jan-11-2012: While UN Claims Zero Tolerance, No Discipline of Sri Lankan Abusers in Haiti

Dec-28-2011: Why Was a Red Cross Manager on Vacation from Gaza Murdered in Sri Lanka?

Nov-24-2011: Fear, Genocide and Torture in Sri Lanka

Nov-21-2011: London Calling: Time for Sri Lanka's Release of Post-Conflict Report

Nov-11-2011: Ode to a Humble Hero of Sri Lanka: Dr Brian Senewiratne

Oct-15-2011: Genocide 101: World and Media Apathy

Oct-08-2011: Sri Lanka Joins Israel in Naval Attacks on Unarmed Fishermen

Oct-05-2011: War and its Aftermath... a Real Killer for Tourism

Oct-01-2011: Sri Lanka in the Crosshairs of Canadian Parliament

Sep-13-2011: Sri Lanka Recalls Diplomat Accused of War Crimes

Aug-31-2011: 'No Song and Dance' Over Sri Lanka War Crime Admissions

Jul-25-2011: Former Sri Lanka President's Children 'Reacted With Anguish' to Tamil Genocide Program

Jul-22-2011: M.I.A. - A Beautiful Reflection of the Besieged Tamils of Sri Lanka

Jul-17-2011: 44 Prisoners Join Hunger Strike at Vavuniya Prison in Sri Lanka

Jul-14-2011: The Bush Administration's Role in Sri Lanka's Tamil Genocide

Jul-13-2011: Fields Should be for Sports, not Genocide... Sri Lanka

Jun-29-2011: Sri Lanka Continues Genocide, Thumbing Nose at UN and World

Jun-20-2011: Sri Lanka's Violence Toward Tamil Minority Continues

Jun-18-2011: 'International Day in Support of Victims of Torture'Remember the Tamil Genocide

Jun-17-2011: European Tourists Waylaid in Sri Lanka, Resurgence of 'White Van' Crime

Jun-15-2011: Tamil Genocide Explored in Sri Lanka's Killing Fields

Jun-02-2011: UN Experts: Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide Video is Real

May-31-2011: New Song 'Depression' - Graphic Truth of Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide

May-31-2011: Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide: Killing the Messenger

May-03-2011: Confronting the Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka

Apr-27-2011: Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka Emerges Into Public View

Apr-22-2011: World Ignores Genocide of Sri Lanka's Tamil Population


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Anonymous July 13, 2012 3:10 am (Pacific time)

International media to awake and do your pivotal role ! Bring Justice to hounded Tamils and the Srilankan state War criminals to Justice! Or else Srilankan genocidal policies would be replicated elsewhere around the world as is happening in Syria.

Tamils forever July 12, 2012 2:22 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you for this graphic yet necessary report, sooner or later people will understnd. It is sad that these images are required.

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