Channel-4 broadcast of internment camp conditions irks Colombo

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 09 September 2009, 00:11 GMT]
Following the broadcast of shocking video footage showing Sri Lanka Government soldiers executing Tamils stripped naked and hands tied behind their backs, British Television Channel-4 Monday revealed a new film that showed Tamil "victims of Sri Lanka's war suffering poor conditions in UN-funded camps." The new footage, allegedly taken by a mobile phone, was sent to Channel-4 from the group War Without Witness, and was reportedly shot two weeks ago in Vavuniyaa, in northern Sri Lanka, where more than 300,000 Tamils are being interned in Sri Lanka military supervised camps. Sri Lanka's spokesperson, while insisting that United Nations is active inside there [the camps], responded that the malnutrition statistics reflect "Western standards," indeed malnutrition is present in other parts of Sri Lanka, and also that the situation was worse under the Liberation Tigers.

Courtesy: Channel-4 and War Without Witness
"Patients on intravenous drips lying on mud floors, a man so weak he is unable to brush the flies from his face," Channel-4 says in its broadcast, and adds, "[t]he concern now is that when the monsoon rain season begins, the camp will be flooded."

"The plight of Tamil children was raised by Unicef spokesman James Elder, who has just been expelled from the country after being accused by the government of spreading Tamil Tiger propaganda," the broadcast said.

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinghe, secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights blames Channel-4 of "ridiculous behavior" and that Colombo would not invite Channel-4 to Sri Lanka to tour the camps.

Courtesy: Channel-4
While Sri Lanka is taking hurried measures to contain the negative publicity and allegations of war-crimes generated by the summary-execution video, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice, during a press briefing late last week, when asked if she "expects the Council to take that issue [soldiers shooting naked prisoners] up in any way," responded: "With respect to Sri Lanka, again speaking in a national capacity, these reports are very disturbing. They're of grave concern. We'd like more information as we formulate our own national response."

Channel-4 reporter Jonathan Miller who aired the execution video said the execution was "chillingly reminiscent of the Bosnian video [of Serb militia Scorpians murdering six Bosnian Muslims]."

Miller responded to Sri Lanka President's media unit's characterization of the footage as "false and doctored," saying that "Steven Spielberg would have had a hard job staging this grim scene."

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External Links:
Channel4: Grim scenes at Sri Lankan camps
Channel-4: Execution video: is this evidence of 'war crimes' in Sri Lanka?
WWW: War Without Witness
Channel4: British guns 'fired at Sri Lanka civilians'
Channel-4: Footage reveals Sri Lanka camp conditions
Channel4: Blog: Crossing the line in Sri Lanka By Nick Paton Walsh
Channel4: Investigating claims of Sri Lankan ‘war crimes’


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