Tampering civilians’ statements a serious matter, Ambassador Amza tells Channel 4 director

Tampering civilians’ statements a serious matter, Ambassador Amza tells Channel 4 director

May 15, 2013   08:30 pm

During his intervention at the end of a panel discussion that followed the screening of the  film “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, held at the premises of the European Parliament on Tuesday, the 14 May 2013, which was jointly organized by Amnesty International,  Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group, the Head of Mission of Sri Lanka to the EU, Ambassador P.M. Amza stated that Channel-4 has made serious mistakes by misinterpreting what the witnesses have said in Tamil, to suit the Channel 4 agenda.

In a statement to the media the Ambassador pointed that in the “Killing Fields” documentary, the civilians who spoke in Tamil at no stage stated that the attacks were carried out specifically by the Sri Lankan Army,   rather they always mentioned that “they attacked”, leaving it ambiguous.

Ambassador Amza further elaborated that when a question was posed in English to an unidentified victim regarding an alleged attack on a hospital by asking “do you think this was an accident?” the answer from the victim in Tamil was, “Athavathu aspaththirikku aim panniththan adichchiruppinam” which literally means “they may have aimed and attacked the hospital”.  The Ambassador contended the Channel-4 of translating it as “the hospital was targeted”, giving implication to the viewers that it was done by the Sri Lanka Army. In this context, the Ambassador questioned the Director/Producer, Callum Macrae who was present as one of the Panellists, on what basis he gave an interpretation to what the witness referred to as “they”, to indicate that it was the Sri Lanka Army.

Pointing out to a similar mistake in the subsequent Channel-4 Documentary, “Sri Lanka Killing Fields: War Crime Unpunished”, during which an unidentified witness makes a statement in Tamil  saying “Enkalidamirunthu 150 meeter irukkum 15 perukku melai kayakkarnkal ippadi bankarukkulliruntha ellorayum veliyil iluththu iluthu pottu suttukkondu waran” which provides literal translation as “the distance may be about 150 meters from us. More than 15 injured civilians were inside the bunker when they pulled them out one by one and fired”. The Channel-4 took the liberty of translating it to mean “as I got up from the bunker, about 150 meters away from where I saw a group of Army soldiers pulling out over 15 civilians staying in a bunker and spraying bullets on them at close range”.    The Ambassador emphasized that at no stage, the witness stated that it was Sri Lankan Army that was pulling the civilians out from the bunkers and killing them. The Ambassador also pointed out that anyone with a sound knowledge of the Tamil language would identify them as serious mistakes and misinterpretations and manipulations done to suit the Channel-4 agenda. As the civilians’ statements constitute important evidence in any conflict, tampering them to give a completely false view, is a matter of serious concern, he said.

The Ambassador also refuted allegations on the killing of a 12 year old boy identified as the son of the LTTE leader. The Ambassador, while casting doubts on Channel-4 making sweeping conclusions based on few pictures depicting a man clad in a uniform similar to Sri Lanka Army personnel, a clean and neat bunker, a man in slippers, and an ‘expert opinion’ based on the pictures given to him that the boy was captured by the Army who then fed him a snack then killed him at point blank range, questioned as to why the ‘expert opinion’ disregarded the possibility of him being killed by his own bodyguards, to avoid being captured by the Sri Lankan Armed forces.

The Ambassador reminded that the LTTE was not an ordinary group of terrorists, but was one in which all its cadres mandatorily carried cyanide capsules to kill themselves if captured by the Army. It was also a ruthless terrorist group which never hesitated to use even disabled and pregnant women as suicide bombers in order to achieve its objectives.

Referring to a similar allegation where just by showing a 20 second footage of a group of  females  suspected as LTTE cadres, been taken away in a tractor, and giving an interpretation that their destiny was not know thereafter, he used the opportunity to remind the gathering about the comprehensive efforts taken by the Government in rehabilitating over 12,000 former LTTE cadres including 594 child soldiers after the end of the conflict, who have now been successfully integrated into the society and are leading peaceful and dignified lives.

Ambassador Amza stated that irrespective of Sri Lanka’s categorical rejection of the Channel-4 footage and its authenticity, Sri Lanka nevertheless, is in the process of investigating the allegations.  In this context, he reiterated Sri Lanka’s request to Channel-4 to provide original materials available with them to help the investigation process rather than pleading for Pounds through projects such as the ‘Kick-starter’, in order to go on a globe-trotting venture with the film.

The Ambassador added that, as a native Tamil speaker, he could provide ample evidence  to prove that Channel-4 indeed had a sinister motive to discredit Sri Lanka with the connivance of the pro-LTTE diaspora organizations,  and further alluded that it was ironical to see how one time ardent supporters of the LTTE and its killing spree through funding and other propaganda activities are now projecting themselves as independent human rights activists, having been oblivious to the countless human rights violations carried out by the LTTE.
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