| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(December 19, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Game, set and match for the censors of the long awaited LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) report proclaimed to run into 400 pages. In fact it has about 250 pages with blank pages, deletions and omissions. Did anyone even for one brief moment think that the report would be out in full?
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Yet Colombo based journalists have started commenting on the report; most editors are patting the government on its back for LLRC’s brilliant performance. Mind you, not a single media report stated the fact glaring in your face that there are reams of empty pages, words hanging on first letters and true to form stupendous deletions.
Four hours into reading the report I have yet to reach Page 200. How come our busy editors digested them in addition to editing a full Sunday paper? Some geniuses these guys and gals.
Welcome to the world of Sri Lankan style censorship. Which clowns thought it fit to perform this mutilation of a report which would make or break the government as it faces an international inquiry into war crimes? The LLRC commissioners have surpassed the expectations of the public and the international community and had performed a near miracle in that they have worked painstakingly hard and long hours.
Did the clowns in the Department of Censors (unofficial of course but they could be given a separate ministry for performing this near miracle) truly believe the UN or any other international body scrutinising the report would bite hook, line and sinker?
Manik De Silva, a witness at the sitting of the LLRC and the chief editor of Island cannot contain himself on stacking plaudits over a jolly good wholesome report and thumbs his nose at its critics. Even the BBC guys could not spot the glaring blank pages running into two hundred at the least. Perhaps I have enough time on my hands but as a very curious person I need to dissect the report and digest it before I offer further comments. Giving the benefit of a doubt my computer may be with-holding information due to its age (five year old DELL PC) and which keeps asking me to repair it every ten minutes.
Nevertheless, as they say in Tamil, `oru paanai soththuku oru soru patham’; translated one cooked rice grain is enough to declare the whole pot of rice is cooked.
The LLRC commissioners have been fairly consistent and given verbatim the witness reports. But the report has now been mutilated and hacked beyond comprehension presumably by the censors.
Censoring the media, censoring adverse reports on the government are traditions by which successive governments managed to keep the populace blissfully ignorant of its misdemeanours be they shelling civilians in No-Fire Zones, or playing classical music when the July Pogrom of 1983 against Tamils in the south saw hundred of Tamils massacred and thousands forced to flee the country to save their lives, their properties burnt and looted and blanking news when government ‘s killer squad led by Udugampola went on a frenzy of killing JVP dissenters in ’89/90 by their thousands and displaying their bodies in street corners and floating them in rivers.
The list is endless.
I hope readers would allow me some more time before I come back to you with a complete analysis of the LLRC. Meanwhile permit me to offer a piece of advice to my colleagues in the media and think-tanks. Do your bloody home-work before you pick up your pen or sit in front of your computer.