Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sri Lanka's propaganda war

The New York Times' blog, The Lede, reports that supporters of both sides in the 25-year Sri Lankan conflict continue to fight a global propaganda war on many fronts - http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/two-sri-lankas-struggle-to-tell-their-tales/?hp. The government has banned journalists from entering the war zone, so it is impossible to verify the facts. Instead, reporters rely on spokesmen from the Ministry of Defense on the Sinhalese side and the separatist group LTTE on the Tamil side. The Tamils claim that the government has killed massive numbers of Tamil civilians and forced them into a narrow strip of land in the country's northeast. The Sinhala government claims that the rebels were themselves killing the civilians for propaganda purposes. At demonstrations in several countries, supporters of both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil separatists, have been pressing their case on foreign governments and international media organizations. Pro-government protesters marched Monday to the gates of the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, demanding that diplomats from the country that has been trying to broker a peace on the island be expelled. The government blames the Norwegian government for not able to protect the Sri Lankan embassy in Oslo from being attacked by Tamil protesters last week. I think that this kind of blaming is illogical and purely political. It is purely an effort by the Sri Lankan government to victimize itself to shore up sympathy internationally. It is an effor to undercut the Tamil message of victimization in Washington and London and elsewhere.

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