Although the exceptionally long and bloody civil war in Sri Lanka has ended, an extension of the conflict is playing out in the world media. Until recently, world opinion seemed considerably anti-government. But Colombo is mounting a media counter-attack.
Seeking to counter the rapid spread of condemnatory documentaries by organizations like Channel 4, not to mention far more partisan efforts by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development launched its own documentary. It was announced by News.Lk, the government’s official online periodical, and released earlier this month. The documentary was given the title (not to mince words) “Ruthless.”
The government article insists that only this film offers an accurate story of the war, by showing just how brutal and inhumane the Tamils really were. Its purpose is to prove to the world that the accusations held against the government of Sri Lanka were actually committed by the Tamils. The Director General of the Media Centre for National Security said the film is designed to be a corrective to all false representations of the war. “Ruthless,” the director general insists, reveals oppression by the relentless Tamils, in a history that, until now, most were too fearful to reveal.
Although the government paints a picture of a populace at the mercy of the fearsome Tamil Tigers – the terrorist army whose tactics even many Tamils decried – the government itself undermines it credibility by continuing to jail journalists and photographers who criticize it in any way. Such a government should not be surprised that “official versions” of the controversial civil war released by state-run media will not be unquestionably accepted around the world, much less by all the people of Sri Lanka.
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