Bell Pottinger failed to deliver
| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(December 07, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The paranoia of the government knows no bounds. First it hires Bell Pottinger, the advertising firm which charges exorbitant rates to promote its image. Then the President’s brother and defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa despatches abroad former LTTE cadres who splintered from the LTTE and affiliated to Karuna Group to keep a check on anti-government Tamil diaspora. He goes one further and stifles websites which antagonise the government.
|Beware the Ides of March and be warned that Rajapaksas have had their day. The party will soon be over.|
Ariya Rubesinghe, the clown of a director of the government Department of Information, who set up a censorship of all war related news in mid ’90’s by ordering the media to send their news releases to the three stooges (some military men with no face or name)who would delete anything which spells LTTE thereby making a gobbledegook of news stories seems an innocent and ignorant censor compared to the present day media hirelings who are a bunch of boot-licking sycophants who would sell their souls for a mess of pottage.
The media was having a field day selling more copies of their newspapers simply because there were `censored’ parts deleted willy-nilly and the readership were more than curious as to the deleted contents.
Colombo based media have become the pawn of the government and they have sold their journalistic ethics and integrity to a Sinhala chauvinistic regime which hopes to preserve its hegemony by obliterating its war crimes in the name of Sinhala soverignty.
President Mahinda Percy Rajapaksa is digging his own graveyard and the way the government is behaving it is pushing itself towards international scrutiny and eventual judgment in the war crimes probe.
The evidence is mounting and no amount of damage control can extricate the government from its alleged war crimes. Let us take the government’s stance on mitigating accusations being hurled at from the four corners of the world.
Post-war, the government set out on its dis-information campaign and these are its foolhardy attempts which do not have legs to stand on:
1. Gotabhaya denied that no civilians were injured in the final throes of the war.
2. Gotabhaya concedes there were bound to be casualties among civilians and this is acceptable during war times.
3. The government denies access to the war zone to humanitarian NGOs and the media in the name of national security
4. Some journalists who dared to speak out the truth were either murdered, imprisoned or incarcerated
5. The government incarcerates General Sarath Fonseka who led the army into Wanni annihilating the LTTE and over 40,000 civilians to bring to an end the bloody protracted war which raged for well over three decades
6. Then it celebrates its triumph by organising an exhibition of arms and ammunition captured from the retreating LTTE
7. Following independent investigation by international media and particularly Channel 4’s Killing Fields documentary, it hired Bell Pottinger, a highly expensive international advertising agency, to campaign for the government possibly with the blessings of the British Government
8. Then the UN sends out a damning report commissioned by the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon and hands it over to the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) to take necessary steps
9. In the face of mounting international criticism it sets up a toothless commission named LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) based on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to ward off accusations flying in its face of its direct complicity in wiping out a sizeable number of ethnic Tamils fleeing for their lives and who were innocent civilians and unfortunate victims. LLRC skilfully omitted truth in its subverted title.
10. UNCAT announces it has damning evidence of rape and torture of female civilians by the govenrment security forces
11. The government increases its defence budget and increases military surveillance in the North and East despite the end of the war
12. In its serendipitous hopes of getting its hands on LTTE funds it courts a key LTTE arms procurer K.Pathmanathan and provided him with VIP security and plum residency in Visumpaya, once the residence of Prime Minister
13. It gives carte blanche to Douglas Devananda who is given unlimited powers to intimidate, arrest and bump off anyone who antagonises him or the government through `white van abductions and murder.
The litany of the government’s foolhardy efforts in trying to white-wash its war crimes is endless. The truth is out there and is staring the government in its face. No amount of dis-information campaign is going to save face for the government come the first quarter of 2012.
Beware the Ides of March and be warned that Rajapaksas have had their day. The party will soon be over.
(The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at email@example.com)