2ND LEAD (Adds new links)

Aid workers tell donors not to fund Sri Lanka, reports Channel-4's Walsh

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 May 2009, 21:14 GMT]
"This is a man-made humanitarian disaster, the aid worker explained. "I am in the strange position of just keep telling all our donors when they come here to NOT to give money,"" writes Channel-4's Nick Paton Walsh, quoting an aid worker inside an internment camp in Vavuniyaa. The Channel-4 crew was deported on the directions of Sri Lanka's Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse for reporting allegations of abuse, rape, and ill-treatment of Tamils held in internment camps.

Nick Paton Walsh, Channel-4 Asia Correspondent
Nick Paton Walsh, Channel-4 Asia Correspondent
Walsh writes that it is not that often the "most powerful man" in a country rings you, and adds that Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse told him, "Who is this? You rang me earlier? Is this Channel 4? You have been accusing my soldiers of raping civilians? Your visa is cancelled, you will be deported. You can report what you like about this country, but from your own country, not from here."

Walsh says that "there is a broader reason why deportation, not rapid rebuttal, was the chosen method in dealing with our allegations. The government is intolerant of a critical press. Journalists get killed, most notoriously Lasantha Wickrematunge, an editor assassinated in January."

Walsh also accused Mr Lakshman Hulugalle who runs Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), the "military's tool for censorship," of falsely claiming that "Walsh admitted to a crime," which Walsh dismissed as "rubbish."

On the paranoid reaction by Colombo officials for exposure of inhumane treatment of Tamil civilians, Walsh says, "[t]here is a reason why the government is so extraordinarily sensitive about this topic, bar the usual protectiveness of a nation for its armed forces. They need western money to fund these IDP camps, places government officials openly accept are "technically" internment camps. They will hold part of the country's ethnic Tamil population for as long as 3 years, many involved say.

"The government has spent a lot on the war and needs the UN to fund and manage this "resettlement" project, ostensibly the detention of up to 230,000 people for long enough to filter out any remaining militant sympathizers."


Chronology:


External Links:
Guardian: Journalist who reported on internment camps in Sri Lanka tells his story
Channel4: Blog: Crossing the line in Sri Lanka By Nick Paton Walsh

 

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