Channel 4: Prabhakaran Executed

| by Helasingha Bandara
( March 15, 2012, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) UK’s Channel 4, in their relentless pursuit of justice for both civilians and the terrorists who died during the last phase of the Elam war in Sri Lanka showed another harrowing documentary entitled “Sri Lanka’s killing Fields- War Crimes Unpunished” at 10.55pm on the night of 14 March 2012 on British television.
Dead Body of former leader of the LTTE, V. Prabhakaran
In addition to some clips from the previous documentary, it included new footage to prove their point. The film was presented mainly on three themes: shelling of the no fire zones, starving civilians to death on purpose and the execution of prisoners of war.
The appalling scenes of dead bodies of children covered with swarms of flies, dead and injured women, children and the old alike, malnourished people and the corpses of Prabhakaran and his son Balachandran allegedly executed after surrendering to the armed forces could convince viewers all around the world, particularly those who do not have a historic perspective of the terrorist activities for over 30 years in Sri Lanka. The main purpose of the programme was to influence the relevant authorities to indict Mahinda Rajapaksha, Gotabaya Rajapaksha, Sarath Fonseka, Shavendra Silva and Prasanna Silva on war crimes.
To a neutral viewer who has no knowledge about the atrocities caused by the Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka, a mere mention that the LTTE also committed war crimes did not help to make a comparison of the crimes allegedly committed by the two sides. By 2009 the LTTE had killed an estimated 30,000 people including men, women, children (even unborn), the old and the invalid, priests, bureaucrats, politicians, forces personnel and the visitors to the country. Had channel 4 included some of those murder scenes in the documentary they would be credited for fair journalism. Unfortunately the absence of evidence of activities of one party that C4 recognised as party to war crimes has left a vacuum, debilitating an independent assessor to come to any conclusion as to who were the perpetrators of war crimes and to what extent those crimes have to be probed into.
LTTE had killed R. Premadasa the loved and hated president of Sri Lanka, Rajiv Gandhi much loved Prime Minister of India and hundreds of civilians in the process. They had set up drug and human trafficking rings, arms smuggling gangs, credit card fraudsters and the LTTE was taking over the vices of mafia all over the world in all five continents. The world was seeing an unprecedented threat to its stability as a peaceful place to live. Despite the sympathy that it has now achieved through propaganda the entire world wanted to see LTTE annihilated at the time. The government viewed this as a green light to crush the LTTE by hook or crook. In the desperate need to liquidate a terrorist organization the government of Sri Lanka may have trusted its armed forces to do a good job, being complacent about the manner in which its forces personnel would execute the task.
The shelling of the no fire zones with the knowledge of both the political and military leadership was a major allegation that the documentary attempted to highlight. Had C4 documentary included clips of how the LTTE forced thousands of civilians to move from place to place at gun point, shooting those who disobeyed and killing the armed forces under cover of a human shield, that would present the viewers with a balanced view for them to judge whether the civilians were targeted purposefully. A major flaw of the documentary lies in the fact that they have not established the motive of the government’s alleged ordering of killing innocent civilians.
An attempt was made to show the world that the government of Sri Lanka deliberately deprived food and medicines to the civilian population trapped in the war. The clips of well-fed (rather well-overfed) Mr. and Mrs. Rajapaksha were juxtaposed with malnourished Tamil civilians for contrast. Incidentally the bodies of Prabhakaran or his son or for that matter any of the dead LTTE combatants who were captured on film did not show any sign of malnutrition. This raises some suspicion in a subtle viewer’s mind as to whether it was the LTTE who denied food and medicines to the civilian population. Did the LTTE steal and store them for the consumption of their own military? It is unfair to forget that the Sri Lanka government kept feeding the Tamil population in a semi state of LTTE rule for over 25 years.
The killing of the twelve year old Balachandran is unforgivable. It is an appalling crime that every parent of the world should condemn. However, the film does not hint on the possibility that the boy was killed by soldiers without having received orders from the top. Instead it attempted to implicate the political and the military leadership of direct involvement in the killing.
Most importantly C4 left itself open to criticism by including the death of Prabhakaran, whom they depicted as being executed after surrender, in war crime allegations. The death he died was a much lesser punishment than he deserved for the war crimes and the crimes against humanity that he had committed. Osama Bin Laden was held responsible for the deaths of 3000 Americans. The viewers all over the world watched how Barak Obama gave orders to kill Osama and watched impatiently and nervously the execution of unarmed Osama. Channel 4 do not need to work hard to collect material to produce a similar documentary to that of Sri Lanka’s Killing fields, alleging Obama, Hilary Clinton and the military leadership of the USA on war crimes or crimes against humanity. A large amount of photographic and film evidence is already in the public domain on how the allied forces have killed and maimed innocent people and made the civilian life of Afghanistan a misery.
Following the attempt of the documentary to hold the political and military leadership of Sri Lanka responsible for individual executions such as Prabhakaran’s, a good story for C4 would be the execution of Colonel Gaddafi of Libya. He was murdered in captivity. The political and the military leadership of NATO should be prosecuted for war crimes or crimes against humanity in this instance.
While appreciating the efforts of C4, though not well balanced, to show the world that politicians, military men and terrorists commit atrocities upon the powerless, a suggesting of some other good material to expose other criminals is thought to be timely.
Disregarding the protests of over one million people on the streets of the United Kingdom opposing the then imminent invasion of Iraq, Tony Blair sent British troops to invade Iraq on the flimsy excuse based on the much fabricated ministry of defence (MOD) information on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Instead of finding WMD (which were never found and never there) British and American troops used WMD upon the people of Iraq causing unprecedented misery on the civilian population.
Iraqi casualties
March 2003 to 
151,000 violent deaths.
June 2006
601,027 violent deaths out of 654,965 excess deaths.
June 2006
1,033,000 violent deaths from the conflict.
August 2007
87,215 violent deaths per death certificates issued.
Deaths prior to January 2005 unrecorded.
Ministry estimates up to 20% more deaths are undocumented.
January 2005 to
February 2009
110,600 violent deaths.
Health Ministry death certificates plus AP estimate of casualties for 2003–2004.
April 2009
105,052 – 114,731 violent civilian deaths.
compiled from commercial news media, NGO and official reports.
Over 162,000 civilian and combatant deaths
January 2012
109,032 violent deaths including 66,081 civilian deaths.
January 2004 to
December 2009
“In November 2008 Lord Bingham, the former British Law Lord, described the war as a serious violation of international law, and accused Britain and the U.S. of acting like a ‘world vigilante’. He also criticized the post-invasion record of Britain as ‘an occupying power in Iraq’. Regarding the treatment of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib, Bingham said: ‘Particularly disturbing to proponents of the rule of law is the cynical lack of concern for international legality among some top officials in the Bush administration.’ In July 2010, Deputy Prime Minister of the UK Nick Clegg, in an official PMQs session in Parliament, condemned the invasion of Iraq as illegal.”
David Miliband was a member of parliament of the Blair government that invaded Iraq. It is enlightening to read Miliband’s comment on terrorism in view of his implication on the documentary that the terrorists can commit any crime not the governments.
“In August 2009, Miliband was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives programme, choosing South African Communist Party leader and anti-apartheid activist Joe Slovo. Miliband stated during the programme, in a response to a question asking whether terrorism can ever be justified, “yes there are circumstances in which it is justifiable and yes there are circumstances in which it is effective, but it is never effective on its own”. These comments were criticised by Menzies Campbell and William Hague.
Can terrorism be justified under any circumstances, asking again Mr. Miliband?


Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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