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Jun-10-2012 23:42printcomments

UN Targets Reporter Who Criticized Sri Lanka War Crime Suspect

Corporate media, UN and France conspire to silence reporter.

Sri Lanka's deadly opposition to media
Courtesy: Cristina Sampaio, flckr.com

(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 - Sri Lanka Guardian

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.

Major General Shavendra Silva

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.

Professor Derrick Pounder, a forensic pathologist at
Dundee University, points out one of the five bullet
wounds in the body of 12-year-old Balakandran
Prabakharan.
Ch-4 / Daily Mail

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...

    "Sri-Lanka has a long history of disappearances both during the civil war and the JVP insurrections.

    The successive Sri Lankan governments’ handling of insurgent groups has involved acts of state terrorism. Such acts include massacres of civilians, the concealment of mass graves, the use of torture, rape, unlawful imprisonment and forced disappearances.

    In an interview with the British television presenter David Frost, Chandrika Kumaratunga - who was the President of Sri Lanka from 1994 to 2005 - stated that at the time that her husband Vijaya Kumaranatunga was assassinated, "Sri Lanka had killing fields; there was a lot of terror perpetrated by the government itself, state terrorism.”

A comment on that same article summarized the situation in Sri Lanka with journalists who were both murdered, and disappeared:

Abductions by paramilitaries assisted by military intelligence in white vans (without number plates) while heavy presence of mono-ethnic army is deployed and check points all over the north and east of the country has been going on since November 2005. Many abductees were tortured or extra-judicially executed without trace. Prevailing culture of impunity enables the abductors to commit the crimes without being apprehended by the police and army. The government has said many times that no action of any sort can be undertaken by the international community to investigate these excesses as China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India and former leaders of Egypt and Libya would protect them in the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Councils from passing resolutions to that effect. Anyone writes or speaks about the war crimes or violations of international laws committed by the government are accused of being in the payroll of defeated Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

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.

Sri Lanka's Media Death Toll

This data includes both murdered and disappeared media workers in Sri Lanka from 2004 to 2010. The information draws from several sources, including the Executive Committee of Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, Committee to Protect Journalists, The Guardian and other sources:



Artwork by Carlos Latuff, friend of Salem-News.com located in
Rio de Janeiro. To see more of his work, visit:
Latuff Gallery

2004

Aiyathurai A. Nadesan – Journalist / 31 May
Kandaswamy Aiyer Balanadaraj – Writer / 16 August
Lanka Jayasundera – Photo journalist / 11 December

2005

Dharmaratnam Sivaram – Editor / 28 April
Kannamuttu Arsakumar – Media worker/ 29 June
Relangee Selvarajah – Journalist / 12 August
D. Selvaratnam – Media worker/ 29 August
Yogakumar Krishnapillai – Media Worker / 30 September
L. M. Faleel (Netpittimunai Faleel) – Writer / 02 December
K. Navaratnam – Media worker / 22 December

2006

Subramaniam Suhirtharajan – Journalist / 24 January
S. T. Gananathan – Patron, Tamil News and Information Centre / 01 February
Bastian George Sagayathas – Media worker / 03 May
Rajaratnam Ranjith Kumar – Media worker / 03 May
Sampath Lakmal de Silva – Journalist / 02 July
Mariadasan Manojanraj – Media worker / 01 August
Pathmanathan Vismananthan – Singer and musician / 02 August
Sathasivam Baskaran – Media worker / 15 August
Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah – Media owner / 20 August

2007

S. Raveendran – Media worker / 12 February
Subramaniam Ramachandran – Media personnel / 15 February
Chandrabose Suthakar – Journalist / 16 April
Selvarasah Rajeevarman – Journalist / 29 April
Sahadevan Neelakshan – Journalist / 01 August
Anthonypillai Sherin Siththiranjan – Media worker / 05 November
Vadivel Nimalarajah – Media worker / 17 November
Isaivizhi Chempian (Subhajini) - Media worker / 27 November
Suresh Limbiyo – Media Worker / 27 November
T.Tharmalingam – Media Worker / 27 November

2008

Paranirupesingham Devakumar – Journalist / 28 May
Rasmi Mohamad – Journalist / 06 October

2009

Lasantha Wickramatunga M - Sri Lanka Editor / 08 January The Sunday Leader
Puniyamoorthy Sathiyamoorthy M - Sri Lanka Journalist / 12 February freelance
Sasi Mathan – Media worker / 06 March
Shoba Isaippiriya - Reporter with TamilNet / 18 May
K.Suvendiran – Photojournalist- missing since 25 April 2009
T.Thavapaalan – News Editor – missing since 19 May 2009

2010

Prageeth Eknelygoda 24 January
Christhper Payas – Cartoonist (date of death or missing could not found)
H. Vijayakumar – Journalist (date of death or missing could not found)
B. Sivakumaran – Journalist (date of death or missing could not found)

This is not a complete list, there seems to be no definitive way of even locating the names of many of the missing, however we are interested in gaining the name of every media employee in Sri Lanka who disappeared or was killed. The agencies this information was compiled from, are somewhat limited in nature. The CPJ only names journalists whose stories are well known, little good that does for the missing.

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.

    Sri Lanka's state-controlled media has described journalists as "traitors" following the UN human rights council's call for an investigation into the country's alleged abuses during its war against Tamil separatists.

    In an attack on Sri Lankan journalists, both at home and in exile, state television accused them of "betraying the motherland."

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
(Follow link at the bottom of this story, to Inner City Press

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


Tim King's previous Salem-News.com reports on Sri Lanka:

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

______________________________

Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

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: tim@salem-news.com. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)

View articles written by Tim King




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Shiva June 14, 2012 11:05 am (Pacific time)

@ Kirthi Jayasekera - Undoubtedly the Rajapakse regime is the worst criminal regime of the 21st Century! Due to the Indian UPA regime and few Western Nations' collaborations with the Sri Lankan regime, the International community has failed to prevent mass murders, rape and massacre of innocent civilians. The International Community's failure is exposed and many have no faith in these organizations. Shame on those leaders who collaborated with the Rajapakse regime in the name of democracy, freedom and human rights and ignored war crimes, human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Even after three years ending the war, the Rajapakse regime continue with ethnic cleansing, abductions, detentions, torture and murder with full impunity.


amandablack June 11, 2012 3:24 pm (Pacific time)

Everyone seems to have lost their voice when it comes to "Defend" what is ours under Free Speech and Free Press.


Question The Press June 11, 2012 10:35 am (Pacific time)

The quthor states "Most of us bearing the statements of witnesses and the hard facts are nowhere near Sri Lanka." It's rather peculiar that the author of this article, and like-minded people as he states, takes such a strong stance on Sri Lanka without ever having been there. Perhaps it would be best to leave the reporting and the publication of opinions of this nature to those who have experienced the situation. This article, obviously, is highly biased, and therefore, in my opinion, should be treated appropriately.

Editor: Do you realize that you essentially mirror the supporters of Kagame in Rwanda?  "Let us figure it out" "It's an internal matter" "Let the people take care of their own country"

Your government is irresponsible and incapable of making kind, humane decisions.  I suspect people have no trouble reading content generated out of country, they know the track record of the GoSL and media, it isn't good.


Kirthi Jayasekera June 11, 2012 9:19 am (Pacific time)

People just coughing out for tiger( Tamil diaspora) money.

Editor: Our readers know we aren't supported by anybody, that is a sad last ditch effort to make those who expose the practices of Sri Lanka, and it is flatly untrue.

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