One of the salient points of the conflict in Sri Lanka
is that many countries, organizations and individuals seem to be
misinformed about the ground realities in the North.
One reason for this status quo is the LTTE’s propaganda
machine which has through the years managed to paint a
completely wrong picture of the Sri Lankan Government, the
Security Forces and even the majority community to the outside
world. Their version of events gained currency as opposed to the
Lankan State’s version.
Unfortunately, some Sri Lankan missions abroad were not doing
enough to counter such Tiger propaganda. The LTTE thrived in
many countries in the absence of a proper counter-propaganda
It is only now that the State apparatus is fighting such
misinformation and outright distortion of facts with an
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has on several occasions pointed
out to our representatives abroad the importance of properly
countering malicious propaganda by the LTTE and organizations
which directly or indirectly support it. These directives seem
to be having the desired effect.
Now that the operations against the LTTE are drawing to a
close, the Tiger sympathizers’ propaganda mill is working
overtime to paint a picture of ‘genocide against the Tamil
This is how the Tigers instigated protests in Tamil Nadu
aimed at stopping the military operations. These have died down
after the organizers realized that India was firmly with Sri
Lanka on the issue of eliminating terrorism.
Yet, the misinformation campaign continues in one form or
another, with new fabrications almost everyday. First, the LTTE
sympathizers have vastly inflated the number of people living in
the very small area still dominated by the Tigers to show that
the Lankan state is willfully targeting Tamil people.
The Government has now proven that such charges are
completely baseless and it is in fact the LTTE which is holding
them hostage against their will. This fact is proven by the
influx of thousands of people to cleared areas in the last few
weeks. If the Security Forces personnel are oppressors as the
LTTE claims, they would not be so keen to cross over.
Another canard spread by the LTTE sympathizers was that the
Security Forces had used cluster munitions which resulted in
civilian casualties. It is a costly, relatively new technology
which the Sri Lankan Security Forces do not possess.
The international community has now accepted the Government’s
position that it does not possess such weaponry. Several
misleading statements were also made regarding attacks on
hospitals and other civilian facilities. The true picture with
regard to these incidents emerged later.
It is also baffling as to why many local political parties,
international organizations and human rights organizations are
silent on the LTTE’s shooting and killing of innocent civilians
crossing over to cleared areas.
The true nature of the LTTE was exposed just a couple of days
ago when a suicide bomber targeted innocent Tamil civilians.
Several so-called rights organizations did issue half-hearted
statements condemning the LTTE for this crime but the tone was
nowhere near the wordings used against the Government and the
Granted, the LTTE is a terrorist organization and one cannot
expect them to honour human rights, but the Tigers seem to have
no qualms about killing members of the very community they claim
It is also regrettable that certain misinformed observers
including UN experts have confused the two issues of the general
human rights situation and the military operations to combat
They keep on blaming the Government and the Security Forces
for the plight of Vanni civilians without urging the LTTE to
stop attacks against these civilians. The timing of these
statements raises doubts as to whether they have been deceived
by pro-Tiger propaganda.
Organizations such as the ICRC and the UN agencies which work
closely with the Government in conflict areas have a great
responsibility to disseminate correct information to the world.
Many would believe their opinion and it would be unfair by
the Government and the Forces if incorrect information regarding
their actions is disseminated. This point was recently stressed
by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
As the civilian influx continues and as the military closes
in on the last remaining vestiges of Tiger domination, the
misinformation campaign by pro-LTTE elements will no doubt rise
to a crescendo.
The authorities must be ready for this eventuality to even
more effectively counter such false propaganda and explain the
correct situation to the entire world. Pre-empting the LTTE’s
propaganda attacks is as important as gaining battlefield