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Article by Dr. Stuart Reiss on Sri Lanka and Channel 4 allegations.

It is the content not who he is that matter.
About those videos one does not need Hollywood to concoct out any fantasy.

I have followed the misfortunes of the Sri Lankan conflict over the years and it`s very clear to me that both Tamils and Singhalese are relieved that it`s finally over.

The country is beginning to recover from its horrible aftermath and the international community should help Sri Lanka heal its wounds.

However the Channel Four program titled `The killing fields of Sri Lanka` served rather to inflame them.

It`s clear that Channel Four has an agenda of discrediting the Sri Lankan government and this is accomplished at the expense of truth and good journalism.

The documentary insisted that the Sri Lankan government carried out deliberate and systematic attacks on Tamil civilians. This is wholly untrue and is a reprehensible suggestion.
It is as ridiculous to suggest that the British Army deliberately targeted all republican Irish citizenry during the height of the Northern Ireland conflict.
A sovereign democratic government will not met out mob justice using it`s armed forces on it`s own citizens, and Tamils are as much Sri Lankans as are Singhaleese and other ethnic minorities in the country.

It was particularly evident during the end stage of the Sri Lankan conflict that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) held Tamil civilians hostage, denying them the very freedom that the LTTE allegedly sought for them.

Throughout the long history of this conflict various methods have been tried to bring about a peaceful settlement and to encourage the LTTE to enter mainstream politics.

This included direct intervention by Sri Lanka`s powerful neighbor India.

However, the LTTE rejected all these efforts in pursuit of an independent Tamil state under its control.
It was unacceptable for a terrorist state to exist and export its evils such as suicide bombings, therefore the Sri Lankan Government carried out its duty to protect and serve its citizens by removing the LTTE terrorists from their area of dominance.

Unlike in Afghanistan and Iraq the Sri Lankan government did not need foreign intervention to accomplish this task.

Contrary to what the documentary suggested, every effort was made by the Sri Lankan government to extract civilians from the combat zone, and local journalists were given unprecedented access to the front lines.
Perhaps the government didn`t allow some western journalists - such as Chanel Four - with a liberal bias towards the LTTE terrorists, into the frontline to prevent truth being a casualty and to avoid military attack plans being divulged to the enemy.

Embedded journalists in combat zones are a privilege allowed by the government.

It was no secret that the United States armed forces disliked Al Jazeera correspondents in the front lines during the last Iraq war, and directly attacked the Al Jazeera building on the outskirts of Bagdad.

This was not the case in Sri Lanka, where Chanel Four correspondents were only escorted out.

The UN chose to leave the combat zones in North Eastern Sri Lanka, as they abandoned Rwanda, Kosovo, and many other places.

The Sri Lankan government merely highlighted the fact that it couldn`t guarantee the safety of UN officials.
There was a very plausible danger of the LTTE killing UN employees and blaming it on the government.

Clips chosen for the Chanel Four documentary were emotive, screaming people and the crowd outside the UN offices showed the real horrors of any war.

They didn`t show direct evidence of the Sri Lankan government`s cruelty. Perhaps the Tamil civilians begging the UN to stay, were afraid of exactly what followed, that the LTTE taking them hostage and used as a human shield, or the forcible conscription of their children.

The alleged aftermath of a Sri Lankan army bombardment of a hospital showed buildings very much intact and patients lying on their beds.

As for the execution videos, these have been proven to be inauthentic by the Sri Lankan government.

Mr. Gordon Weiss, the former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka, who was interviewed extensively in the documentary has published a book titled `The Cage` about his experiences of the final days of the war against the LTTE. Its worth quoting a chapter in page 216 of the book in its entirety:

`It remains a credit to many of the front line SLA (Sri Lanka Army) soldiers that, despite odd cruel exceptions, they so often seem to have made the effort to draw civilians out from the morass of fighting ahead of them in an attempt to save lives.
Soldiers yelled out to civilians, left gaps in their lines while they waved white flags to attract people forward and bodily plucked the wounded from foxholes and bunkers.
Troops bravely waded into the lagoon under fire to rescue wounded people threading their way out of the battlefield or to help parents with their children, and gave their rations to civilians as they lay in fields, exhausted in their first moments of safety after years of living under the roar and threat of gunfire.`

Gordon Weiss is a hostile witness for the Sri Lankan government, however Chanel Four chose not to show any of the positive comments he made in his book focusing entirely on the negative.
Mr Weiss has made bizarre unsubstantiated comments but even he cant deny the fact that there was no official policy of deliberately harming Tamil civilians.

The capture of LTTE carders was made difficult by their suicide policy and the danger to civilians in the conflict zone.

Many LTTE suicide bombers crossed over to government held lines mixed in with the population only to detonate their bombs in the presence of Army personnel, causing heavy civilian deaths.
Despite all its sophisticated technology, the US navy seals team in its mission to capture or destroy Osama Bin Laden, chose to kill him rather than take him captive, as precaution against a suicide bomb concealed in his person.
The killing of LTTE leaders was inevitable, as they would not surrender.

War is an evil that ultimately reduces the humanity of its participants, however it is a well used conflict resolution tool of mankind.
A surgeon will hack a diseased limb to save the body.
It is unpleasant, but often has to be done.
War also serves to highlight peaks of humanity and the personal sacrifice of individuals for the greater good.
Once its ended, a healing has to begin, and this process can only happen if scars are allowed to settle.

Chanel Four should get off its high horse of moral monopoly and allow Sri Lankans to sort out their own issues.

Dr. Stuart Reiss
Department of Surgery
William Harvey Hospital

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