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UN Targets Reporter Who Criticized Sri Lanka War Crime SuspectTim King Salem-News.com
Corporate media, UN and France conspire to silence reporter.
(SALEM) - A reality check on media freedom at this point is grueling; it leaves us uncertain. The United Nations is going after a human rights reporter from a small media group covering the UN and mainstream media is pouring gas on the flames.
Matthew Russel Lee from Inner City Press is a reporter we admire greatly for his position toward the absurdity of the UN alternately citing, and then ignoring Sri Lanka's war crimes. It is a travesty that the UN Secretary General would unite and conspire with media to eliminate the journalist asking the hard questions. We will not let Mr. Lee go down without a strong fight.
Sri Lanka is well established as one of the most dangerous places a reporter can work. Most of us bearing the statements of witnesses and the hard facts are nowhere near Sri Lanka or we would be buried in the ground with so many reporters who earned a prime spot on Lanka's hit list.
We have written about this in great detail and the numbers of media employees 'taken out' by Sri Lanka and its thugs is truly shocking.
The whole affair centers around the recent Genocide of Tamil people in Sri Lanka's north. Up to 160,000 human beings vanished from the records after this event that culminated in May 2009- right under the world's nose. The thing is, Sri Lanka could not get all of the journos; they tried hard but too many photos and video clips were recorded and released by everyone from the dying Tamils, to UN crews and the Sri Lanka Army. This imagery made sure the government was not allowed to escape the evidence of these crimes.
At the head of Sri Lanka's 58th Division during the attacks on Tamils, was Major General Shavendra Silva. He led the forces that exterminated tens of thousands of mostly civilians, and he continues to be a prime suspect in war crime investigations. Surely Matthew Russel Lee and Inner City Press have every legitimate right to question Silva's role as a UN 'humanitarian'.
Silva is Sri Lanka's Lt. William Calley and the north of Tamil Eelam is this nation's My Lai.
Last February, the UN's human rights chief, Navi Pillay, stated that Maj Gen Silva was suspected of committing human rights violations.
Those who celebrate the elimination of Tamil resistance fighters, the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) laud Silva's achievements, and he in fact considers himself a hero for the widespread deaths of Tamils. The problem for investigators is that Silva and those above him, are perfectly willing to lie about the final months of the three decade long civil war.
They categorically deny the crimes they carried out against their own citizens, and few are more aware of this, or disturbed by it, as the UN reporter Matthew Russel Lee eith Inner City Press.
Not only were Tamil civilians forced into so-called 'free fire zones' and then bombed inside of these areas, but it is also highly documented that Sri Lanka's military forces murdered LTTE officials and even the young son of their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was murdered after attempting to surrender, along with his bodyguards.
Sri Lanka's war on the Tamils according to the evidence, was nothing but a big slaughter fest and this is what the UN is representing in its battle against Matthew Russel Lee.
He is facing six years behind bars, according to Sri Lanka media, for asking the wrong questions about war criminals and their association in the UN. It goes far beyond that also; Lee has called out improprieties on the part of the UN and big corporate media groups- the same ones that are trying so hard to take him out.
David versus Goliath
The media groups targeting Lee, like Bloomberg, represent the corporate culture that actually feeds these war machine governments like Sri Lanka. Another terrible government when it comes to all of this, is Israel. The stories that examine Sri Lanka's war crimes with a serious approach are one thing, but groups like Bloomberg are not here to illustrate Israel's flaws.
Instead a lot of pretending takes place, and too often, forked tongues are used to wage arguments. Free speech is international law, the UN is supposed to represent this, now they are targeting it.
Groups like The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) are failing to return contact to Mr. Lee. I look at all of them in the same light as other non-profits; they have a very limited span of effectiveness and they pick and choose their battles under political guidelines. Reporters Without Borders (RFP) is another one, look at their reports and try to find real objectivity. It is time for a new group to represent media; one that fills its self-described role of advocacy without predetermined bias.
After the end of the war in Sri Lanka, war crime suspect Silva was appointed as Director of Operations of the Sri Lanka Army and promoted to the rank of Major General.
In 2010, Shavendra Silva became a Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations as the only serving army officer to hold such a post at the time of appointment.
That is a lot to appreciate; the first military officer used in this capacity is also a war crime suspect. It is all very consistent. Sri Lanka has taken Israel's example of alternately denying crimes of state terrorism, and relying on its unethical western trading partners for protection in the United Nations.
In a January 2012 article, The Economist wrote...
A comment on that same article summarized the situation in Sri Lanka with journalists who were both murdered, and disappeared:
Sri Lanka's game plan is old news. All of us who write about the events in 2009 are called LTTE supporters; we are all accused of being funded by the LTTE and it is ridiculous.
The fact that this group was designated as 'terrorists' takes all political bargaining power the LTTE once had and effective sets it on a high shelf out of sight.
While I find it necessary to concentrate on Sri Lanka's treatment of journalists in general, this story is about Matthew Russel Lee and the struggle to prevent the United Nations from tossing him behind bars for simply doing his job, which is an extremely important one.
The 'media' in general and the UN, are not showing any concern for press freedom, but with their own interests. If you add 'Matthew Russel Lee' to our search window, you will be rewarded with a long list of related stories by this determined reporter. He is right, they are wrong. Silva should be arrested and thrown in prison or executed for his crimes. Instead he is rewarded by a sick minded UN that is fearful of doing the right thing.
It is shocking to read that state television, a government agency of Sri Lanka, would state, "betraying the motherland," when the entire government is guilty of mass murder against its own citizens. There is never a need to pretend or apologize, the Tamils only fought their government after 30 years of Gandhi-style non-violent resistance failed. For this quest for freedom and autonomy, and because the Tamils established the breakaway state of Tamil Eelam.
In March 2012, Guardian UK carried the article, 'Journalists are 'traitors', says Sri Lanka's state TV'. Again, the consistent anti-media position of this island nation is made perfectly clear:
At present. Silva holds the rank and title of Ambassador in addition to his post at the United Nations Headquarters. It is an abomination of justice in an unfair world filled with discrimination and cultural preferences. He obviously has been able to cow them the way he has led western media to paying little attention to his country's Genocide of Tamil people.
This report was also published today:
Jun-10-2012: Ban Ki-moon Advisers Defend Sri Lanka Crimes By Linking Press with LTTE, France Smells Blood? - Matthew Russell Lee Special to Salem-News.com
Sources used in Sri Lanka media casualty figures:
23 March 2012: Journalists are 'traitors', says Sri Lanka's state TV - theguardian GREENSLADE BLOG
28 May 2012: The Disappeared in Sri Lanka’s War in the Recent Past: What is missing in those “Missing”? - Tamil News Network
19 May 2011: The Reckoning: Press Freedom in Sri Lanka - Groundviews
14 Jan 2012: Murky businessPeople are disappearing—and the government has been accused - The Economist
11 Jan 2010: Journalists killed since 1992 - The Guardian
01 Aug 2009: Sri Lanka: Thirty-four journalists & media workers killed during present government rule - Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka
May-07-2012: Sri Lankan Buddhist Mobs Call for Mosque Demolition
Apr-10-2012: Sri Lanka: Genocide and Poor Toilet Training
Mar-18-2012: Is Google Earth Hiding Sri Lanka's Ghosts?
Mar-11-2012: War Crime Court and its Conflicting Interests
Mar-08-2012: Sex Abuse and Murder in Sri Lanka- New Photos Emerge
Feb-28-2012: Tweets from Tamil Eelam
Feb-24-2012: Two of Sri Lanka's Foulest War Crimes
Nov-24-2011: Fear, Genocide and Torture in Sri Lanka
Oct-15-2011: Genocide 101: World and Media Apathy
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
Jun-20-2011: Sri Lanka's Violence Toward Tamil Minority Continues
Jun-02-2011: UN Experts: Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide Video is Real
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
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.
Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 20+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide with an emphasis on Palestine and Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S. Marines. You can write to Tim at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)
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