Shavendra alleges British media plot to discredit the government


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka’s Deputy UN Representative, Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva, alleges a British media plot to discredit the government of Sri Lanka at the behest of the UK-based LTTE operatives.

Responding to queries by The Sunday Island in the aftermath of the UK-based Channel 4 News confronting him outside his offices in Manhattan, he emphasized the need to expose those behind the Channel 4 News operation targeting Sri Lanka.

 ``Channel 4 News is nothing but a media outfit hired by the LTTE activists to harass Sri Lanka on the diplomatic front,’’ he said.

 The Major General’s staff, too captured the confrontation outside on the pavement on video and a subsequent interview in the 20th floor of the UN building in New York. Maj. Gen. Silva challenged Channel 4 News to telecast the entire meeting with him alleging the British network of working overtime for the LTTE.

 "They never expected us to record the interview and release it through the Sri Lankan media. Now it is on the net. The bottom line is that they probably felt they could overwhelm me by ambushing me on my way to office. But I was prepared and had equipment to record the scene," the Gajaba veteran said.

 The former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 58 Division challenged Jonathan Miller, foreign affairs correspondent of Channel 4 News, to reveal the identity of the so-called Sri Lankan army officer who alleged the then Brigadier Shavendra Silva had received instructions from Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to finish off those surrendering on the Vanni East front.

 Miller refused to name the source.

 Asked whether he felt intimidated by British media action, Maj. Gen. Silva said that those working for the LTTE seemed to be confident of achieving their goals in spite of the group losing its conventional military capability in May 2009.

Those countries demanding an international mechanism to investigate accountability issues in Sri Lanka on the basis of so-called Channel 4 News exposures should demand the British network to reveal the identity of its informants.

"If they are so concerned about executions, rape and destruction carried out by the Sri Lankan Army and as many as over 40,000 killings, they shouldn’t hesitate to produce their sources at whatever international forum. We cannot be held accountable for war crimes raised by faceless men," Ambassador Silva said.

He pointed out that even the controversial Darisman Report too didn’t identify its sources.

The diplomat further stressed that Channel 4 News based at the Independent Television News (ITN), No 200, Grays Inn Road, London WCIX8X had produced ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, whereas another UK- based media outfit, Channel 4 telecast it.

"They are two different organizations, though many know only about Channel 4, which is based at 124 Horseferry Road, London SWIP 2TX,’’ he said.

 Channel 4 News did the research, production and presentation of ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ though Channel 4 telecast it first on June 14 before the LTTE contacted television networks in several parts of the world to carry the 50-minute programme, he added.

Jonathan Miller, Jon Snow (presenter of ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’) and Krishan Gurumurthy et al work for Channel 4 News at the ITN.

 Silva pointed out that UNSG Ban Ki moon office had strongly contradicted ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ with regard to what the Channel 4 News said on the UN Chief’s visit to Sri Lanka in the immediate aftermath of the war.

``Could Sri Lanka expect Channel 4 News to be fair, when it didn’t care whether its project ridiculed the UN Chief?,’’ the Major Gen asked.

 Silva, one of the top commanders who led the final onslaught on the LTTE said that those wanting to know the truth should speak with some 300,000 people rescued by the army in the final phase of the conflict. They should also speak with thousands of LTTE cadres freed after rehabilitation and now living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

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