Published on 25 Sep 2013

A dimly lit Sri Lankan affair, in a side street beneath the UN

Last night, in a dimly lit side street a stone’s throw from the towering UN headquarters here in New York, Britain co-hosted a drinks party with Sri Lanka –  a country led by regime accused of the worst war crimes committed this century. Australia joined the fray to render it a tripartite affair.

Large black shiny cars ferried Sri Lanka’s large UN delegation to the door of an un-extraordinary town house. The hosting of the party was personified by British Foreign Secretary, William Hague; Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister GL Peris and – six days into her job – Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

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The event was “off camera”. We found ourselves the only team attempting to record what went on. Our presence outside in the street attracted the joint concern of both British and American security – both of whom made plain their discomfort with our presence.

This was a celebration by three members of the British Commonwealth of this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be staged in Sri Lanka in November.

War crimes

The antecedents of the meeting have not been happy. A number of countries have tried to have the meeting moved to Mauritius. The Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, has uncharacteristically excused her own attendance.

It is just four years since the ending of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war. A war that ended, as Channel 4’s Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields has described in eye witness detail, with 120,000 Tamils being herded into an ever shrinking “no-fire zone”, in which the UN itself believes at least 40,000 – possibly more than double that – were slaughtered in the final three weeks.

Our film showed men, women and children shelled by Sri Lankan artillery, and field hospitals deliberately bombarded soon after their locations had been passed to government forces by the International Red Cross (a provision of the Geneva Convention requires that both sides in conflict should inform each other through the International Red Cross the whereabouts of their field hospitals to spare them bombardment).

The World Bank has estimated that perhaps as many as 100,000 Tamils are still unaccounted for after the war.

A new, feature length film, No Fire Zone, narrates this criminal enterprise and humanitarian  catastrophe in graphic detail – and updates our original reportage.

The UN secretary general himself, Human Rights Watch, and many others have charged that war crimes, and crimes against humanity were committed by the government in the closing stages of the war. The president, Mahinda Rajapaska, and his brother, the Secretary of Defence Gotobaya Rajapaska have both been identified as suspects.

Indeed, Mr Ban used his platform on the opening day of this UN general assembly to hold up the Sri Lankan civil war as an example of the “systemic failure” by the UN system and member states to prevent the “disastrous consequences” of human rights violations.

He called for the UN to renew our commitment to the “United Nations’ founding principles.”

‘Tinkling glasses’

But all this was a far cry from the tinkling glasses and warm ministerial speeches that graced the townhouse in this New York side street last night. Ms Bishop talked warmly of her visit to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Professor Peris talked of Sri Lanka’s economy  having “turned a corner”. Mr Hague was both humorous and expansive in his praise for the Commonwealth, but managed diplomatically to say all but nothing of Sri Lanka.

No one mentioned the estimated 40,000 dead Tamils, or the World Bank figure of 100,000 missing. No one mentioned the military’s artillery and aerial bombardment of the “no fire zone”.

I and a tiny handful of New York based journalists were put on the guest list, but we were told we could not bring our cameras in. The atmosphere was strangely awkward. Those that knew each other, spoke to each other, those who did not know each other avoided doing so.

Britain’s Development Secretary, Justine Greening, looked in. So did the UN’s Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Valerie Amos.

The deputy head of the Sri Lankan mission to the UN is a former General, Shavendra Silva, who commanded the military’s infamous 58 Division during the final assault.  He is accused of war crimes but was given this prominent diplomatic posting as a reward by the regime.

Not once during the evening did I hear talk of war crimes, or crimes against humanity – beyond my own attempts to alert my seemingly relatively unknowing New York based journalist colleagues.

My shouted question to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister from across the street – “When are you going to address the killing of the thousands of Tamil civilians in the closing moments of the war?” – went unanswered.

Unanswered questions

This was an early taster of what is to come. An institution – the British Commonwealth – is to play a macabre role in securing the re-entry into the family of nations of a country which has unaddressed blood on its hands on an horrific scale.

Commonwealth countries will be greeted and facilitated by a president, and a government, against whom evidence exists of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which we have screened and which the UN itself has substantiated.

The reform programme underway inside the Commonwealth is centred on human rights. On the basis of the prickly charm offensive conducted last night, a terrible pact has perhaps been entered into not to mention Sri Lanka’s war crimes.

Last night in New York, a dimly lit side street witnessed an event which did not feel compatible with the high ideals that are etched within the UN headquarters which towered above it in the night sky.

Last night left many questions unanswered.

Why is Britain prepared to co-host even a drinks party with Sri Lanka’s government so long as those horrifying closing weeks of Sri Lanka’s civil war, and the war crimes that flowed from them, remain unaddressed?

Why was the UN’s own point person on these matters prepared to grace the event?

Why is the British Commonwealth prepared to blind ahead with this vast meeting of heads of government in Sri Lanka so long as the continuing human rights crisis there remains unaddressed?

Why is President Mahinder Rajapaska to be allowed to remain, for the next two years, the chairman of a movement that claims human rights at the very core of its being?

And why is British tax payers money being used even to fund either a drinks party, or any of this?

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74 reader comments

  1. Sam says:

    War crimes by the US government don’t matter?

  2. Anpu says:
    1. Dave Thomas says:

      Thank you channel 4 for destroying a beautiful island for a few dollars.

      1. AKP says:

        Dave, so you want to shoot the messenger. How pathetic!

      2. Dave Thomas says:

        Messenger ??????????
        Great Messenger. How pathetic :)))))))

  3. A Sri Lankan of Conscience says:

    All that was missing was a representative of the US government to whom Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (a citizen of that country) is cozying up very successfully recently to paper over the horror that Channel 4 has documented beyond argument.
    The cynicism and hypocrisy of the so-called bastions of democracy is truly unbelievable in the matter of their treatment of Sri Lanka.
    PROVEN FACT means nothing to these countries!

    1. Ben Hurling says:

      CH4 should boycott all events attended by British and American establishment. By far the worst and the biggest partners of war crimes, around the world.

      Only then will CH4 will have any credibility on Sri Lankan matters.

      Cheers!

  4. Deshapriya says:

    Sir, what exactly did you expect to happen? Do you have the slightest inkling of how normal people work? Did you expect William Hague to accost the Sri Lankan delegation in the middle of this event? You sir must be one cantankerous and annoying individual if you simply start altercations with all and sundry you dislike or have a disagreement with whatever the context.
    People who get things done and get elected have cleverer and more effective ways to get things done. For one, the Sri Lankan government these days is behaving quite well exactly because the CHOGM will be in Sri Lanka and all eyes are on them. This was definitely one reason they had the elections recently in the North. International isolation will just let them thrive just like Mugabe did much to the detriment of the average citizen. Engagement is the only way we can pressure for change. i am glad you only bark and don’t make real decisions

    1. victim says:

      The way you are saying is that, there is no need to have police, army, prisons etc. Every criminal can be “engaged” and embraced, perhaps even commented for their crimes and the world would be a better place to live in!!!

      I wonder whether you would say the same thing, if you lost any of your family member!!!

    2. Observer says:

      Excellent response to a ridiculous piece of writing. I think the commonwealth heads of state know what they are doing and there is no place for cantankerous rabble rousing from the opposite side of the street to fit political agendas. Some of the claims in this piece of writing appear to be vastly embellished.

    3. nihal says:

      You radical decision maker? Shame on you

  5. Vani Kumar says:

    Many thanks to Jon Snow. Why is the Commonwealth Secretary General not following the organisation’s own guidelines? …….”Raising awareness of, and strengthening respect for, human rights is a primary strategic goal of the Commonwealth.” ……….

    1. kris says:

      Vani
      Kumar

      Ltte barbaric terrorist woman taking about commonwealth values , Hilarious

      1. Vani Kumar says:

        A U.N. report said government troops killed 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final phase of the war. Ref: http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/POE_Report_Full.pdf‎.

        In 2011 Channel 4 exposed damning evidence of atrocities committed in the war in Sri Lanka. Jon Snow presents this powerful follow-up film, revealing new video evidence as well as contemporaneous documents, eye-witness accounts, photographic stills and videos relating to how exactly events unfolded during the final days of the civil war.
        Ref: http://srilanka.channel4.com/

  6. Meg Howarth says:

    Nauseating. This wasn’t diplomacy but shameless cowardice. When will the British government have the guts to pull out and follow their own head of state? QEII, who’s known to keep a close eye on Commonwealth matters, clearly knows what’s what – she (or her advisor) probably watched C4’s Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields

    Perhaps the three separate Establishment figures of the pope, Hassan Rouhani and QEII should form a lose troika in pursuit of a better world for all.

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      ‘Loose’ troika, of course, not ‘lose’ troika.

      Just found this on Twitter, posted by ‘@SriLanka’ (bio: ‘a citizen’!): “Sri Lanka received crucial support from Australia for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in November”. Alas, it seems doubtful that the new Australian PM will pull out.

      1. AKP says:

        Hi Meg,
        As an Australian I am certain our new Govt will not pull out! The coalition will seek to stop the boast and will attend CHOGM and use that as an incentive to get Rajapaksa who is complicit in the exodus of Tamils to end it.

        well I think that’s the plan!

  7. David Robson says:

    It’s nothing less than disgraceful. If politicians and their hangers-on claim to be doing good work and ignoring these issues, they should be summarily fired.

    Disgraceful.

  8. Ravi says:

    Anyone who dines with War Criminals is not a human!

  9. kumaran says:

    Thank you for your great report and it is discusting that Mr Hauge had Tamil blood stain hand shake with Mr Perres. And Briton needs to stop this double act and i think your report will upset so many in UK including Tamil voters.

    I think British government should remove SL from commonwealth until SL government solve Tamil problems and punish all Tamil civilians murders.

    After Ms Navi Pillay SL HR report in Geneva today British government act on the above immediatly.

  10. JIt says:

    HI,
    Its all about trade. You are given a chance to sell Rollsroys Engines, So you to be grateful to it. Human Right is a tool of Foreign Policy , you use it to your benefit.

    1. citizen says:

      You got it. Absolutely correct.

    2. citizen says:

      British, Australians, and Sri Lankans are tinkling glasses and warm ministerial speeches that graced the townhouse in this New York side street last night. What can go wrong when three barbarians meet in New York and what is wicked with that idea? It is great meeting. Come people; appreciate the barbarians are the rulers of the civilized world.

      These are ideally matched three barbarians from three different continents who have deep history for destroying the great civilizations of great people in three respective continents. Look at what the British (European) did for Native Americans? Today, the great civilization of Native Americans lives in reservations. Who killed all Buffalos? See what the British did for Africa? Who draw the geographic/country boundaries in Africa? Who took their ivories, trees, animals, gold, etc? Who took the Africans to US and name them name SLAVES? 2/3 of the Africans still do not know what to do and suffering with positive future goals. Understand what the British did for the great Aboriginal Australians, and great Māori in New Zealand? They butchered them. Look at what the so called civilized “Australian” and the great generation of British – did for their native people of Australia then and now? They butchered the natives as well. Who taught the Australians to do this barbarian conduct? Their British Masters, right?
      So where did the Sri Lankans (Asian and future Asia’s hub) learn to butcher their own people? Who colonized this uncivilized land of Sri Lanka and taught the barbarian culture to butcher their own people? Do you understand my point – why these barbarians do not have any guilty, shame, embarrassment, and uncomfortable to meet and tinkling glasses and give warm ministerial speeches. They are in the same boat and rocking and searching for more butchering human. What an unfortunate state of affairs for MOTHER NATURE!

      1. RuwanL says:

        don’t agree with you when you say
        Who colonized this uncivilized land of Sri Lanka and taught the barbarian culture to butcher their own people?
        We were in a civilized world when the Britishers were living in caves! The made us uncivilized by capturing our country and ruling us by their divide and rule policy!

      2. Sam Lank says:

        Very well said! British have and had been the biggest barbarians, and uncivilized megalomaniacs who destroyed the world for 100’s of years. Go look at your own mirror Channel4 to see art of uncivilized world.

  11. Ravi says:

    The new Commonwealth charter lists democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, judicial independence, rule of law and good governance among the “shared values” it seeks to promote.

    The charter is simply a joke!

    The Commonwealth should be called CommonFilth!

  12. Winston De Valliere says:

    Meg…. right…it’s one hell of a bum steer and though the pathetic Tamils be wiped out in hundreds of thousands and even millions, global political imperatives will always drink a toast to mass murderers as long as it suit their political agendas to do so. Personally, I feel that the C’wealth has been cautioned to play it easy with Colombo because no one yet knows the parameters of the Sino-Lanka defence agreement and other unknown factors which can ricochet tremendously against neighbouring C’wealth nations. So perhaps the little show that Jon has exposed will hopefully have no depth to it.

    All this is part of the manifestation of the abject failure of the UN system and calls to question the sense and objectives of the club of commonwealth nations.

    ARE THE TAMILS NOT AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE COMMONWEALTH FAMILY ? IF THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT COMMITTED SIMILAR CRIMES AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF TAMIL NADU, WOULD THE C’WEALTH FAMILY HAVE HANDED DELHI THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE C’WEALTH ?

    THE QUEEN IS THE HEAD OF THE C’WEALTH. AND BY ANY MEASURE OF DECENCY SHE OWES THE SRI LANKAN TAMILS A PUBLIC EXPLANATION TO JUSTIFY HER GOVERNMENT’S CASUAL ATTITUDE TO THE FACTS CHRONICLED WITH DAMNING VIDEO EVIDENCE, OF THE KILLINGS OF TAMIL CIVILIANS AND THE FIELD EXECUTIONS OF LTTE MEMBERS WHO HAD OBVIOUSLY SURRENDERED OR HAD BEEN CAPTURED.

    WITH LESS EVIDENCE DAVID CAMERON SOUGHT SANCTION OF THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT FOR THE PROPOSED JOINT STRIKE WITH THE US ON SYRIA..

    WHO CAN BLAME THE POOR TAMILS FOR THROWING UP THEIR HANDS IN HORROR AND OPTING FOR AN ARMED DEMAND FOR EQUALITY AND DIGNITY.

    I’M AFRAID THIS LITTLE PARTY MEANS JUST ONE THING : IT WILL CONCRETISE AND STRENGTHEN THE POSITIONS TAKEN BY THE TGTE AND THE TAMIL DIASPORA.

    NO WONDER THAT [IN THE FACE OF SUCH SORDID EXHIBITIONISM] EVEN THE MOST LOWLY TAMIL STANDS OUT AS ” UN-COMMON”,, AS DIGNIFIED AS ANY MAN CAN BE EVEN AFTER BEING TROD UNDER FOOT FOR 30 LONG YEAR OF TERRORISM…AND I’M NOT TALKING OF THE LTTE WHEN I TALK OF TERRORISM. NO. I’M TALKING OF THE PEOPLE THAT GENERAL SARATH FONSEKA SPOKE OF, I’M TALKING OF THE HANDS THAT HELD THE GUNS IN THE CHANNEL 4 EXPOSURES.

    CAN YOU BLAME THE TAMILS,FOR HAVING MORE FAITH IN THE GUN THAN IN THE UN, THE C’WEALTH AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ?

    BOB DYLAN HAD THE ANSWER .
    LONG BEFORE THAT THERE WAS JOSEF BRODSKY AND THERE WAS WYSTAN AUDEN.

    THEY WERE OF ONE ACCORD IN CONCLUDING THAT SUCH DEATHS WERE MERE AXIOMS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT WEEP WHEN ANOTHER WEPT.

    WE HAVE LOST THE ESSENCE OF WHAT MARKED US OUT AS DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT FROM LOWER LIFE FORMS.

    BUT IF MY READING IS RIGHT, THE TAMILS HAVE NOT YET THROWN IN THE SPONGE…NOT BY A LONG SHOT. EXPOSURES SUCH AS THIS LATEST ONE BY JON NOW.

    STRENGTH TO YOUR FIST JON.

  13. hannah.rajaratnam says:

    Britain co-hosts a drinking party ?

    Thankyou.Sir this is just a info to sri Lankan Tamils.
    If Britain and Sri Lanka co hosted this drinks party what did you expect the guests to talk about.
    Accept,arrive as guests,enjoy drinks and bash the hosts? well then it would have been an unsophisticated evening drinks party.
    What else did you expect?
    Any way thanks for letting us know that Britain and Sri Lanka are still stepping the tango.
    We have to wait for CHOGM

  14. Srivanamoth says:

    The wayward conduct of the world, alas, right there in NY! Those 100,000 souls are perhaps in “Nirvana”! Anything goes in such a paradise. Knock, knock on the door Channel 4 of human conscience and it has to open some day, some day! The world belongs to the brave of human conscience.

  15. Vijay says:

    Thank you Jon and Channel 4. PM David Cameron and William Hague shouldn’t have any qualms shaking hands with president Asad then.

  16. EsanS says:

    My sincere and whole hearted appreciation Jon Snow and Channel 4. It is absolutely necessary to bring justice to the long victimized Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka by pressing the international community including British government not to offer the accused Sri Lankan government leaderships and military leaderships a chance for forgiveness but offer victims and their families the opportunity to confront those responsible for what happened to them, and hopefully to put the horrors of war behind them. Channel 4 continue to seek justice for victimized Tamils not just by words but by deeds. Once again, thank you so much and very much appreciated.

  17. Mala Yaka says:

    I don’t know about Australia but the Brits have enough blood on their hands with their phony wars against middle east to be in the same category as Sri Lanka. One gangster hosting another gangster, what’s the big deal?

  18. kris says:

    My shouted question to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister from across the street “when are you going to address the killing of the thousands of Tamil civilians in the closing moments of the war?” went unanswered.

    Our foreign minister’s job is not to answers the questions from rowdies in the streets

    1. Vani Kumar says:

      To Kris, Jon Snow is not a rowdy.
      Jon Snow has held numerous honorary appointments, including as Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University from 2001 to 2008.
      He served as ITN’s Washington correspondent (1983–1986) and as diplomatic editor (1986–1989)[4] before becoming the main presenter of Channel 4 News in 1989. In 1992 he was the main anchor for ITN’s Election Night programme, broadcast on ITV; he presented the programme alongside Robin Day, Alastair Stewart and Julia Somerville. (Previously ITN’s programme had typically been presented by Alastair Burnet, who left ITN in 1991. The 1992 election night programme was the only one hosted by Snow. He was replaced by Jonathan Dimbleby from 1997 onwards.) He has won several RTS Awards[4] – two for reports from El Salvador, one for his reporting of the Kegworth air disaster and two as “Presenter of the Year”.
      In 2002 he returned to radio, presenting Jon Snow Reports on Oneword Radio, a weekly show and podcast. He wrote regular articles for the Channel 4 News website and ‘Snowmail’ – a daily email newsletter on the big stories coming up on the evening edition of Channel 4 News.
      On 14 June 2011, Snow presented the multiple award-winning investigative documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, directed by Callum Macrae, which documented war crimes committed in the final days of the Sri Lankan conflict in 2009. The programme consisted of some of the most horrific footage ever broadcast in the UK; its second part, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished was broadcast in March 2012.[9]
      Snow declined an OBE because he believes working journalists should not take honours from those about whom they report.
      Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Snow

    2. truth says:

      It is a well known fact that Sri Lanka is being run by a pack or rowdies, murderers, and robbing the country and are living and roaming the world acting like “lords” on tax payers money.

      The foreign minister is an “educated” person who has sold his “soul” by supporting these rouges,.

    3. winston De Valliere says:

      KRIS, CURIOUS DEFINITION YOU’VE GOT FOR BRAVE MEN OF INTEGRITY WHO RISK THEIR LIVES TO STAND UP FOR THE TRUTH..AND THAT TOO ON A MASSIVE GLOBAL SCALE.

      ROWDIES ?,

      i DON’T KNOW A THING ABOUT JON SNOW EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT HIS WORK TO DATE TAKES MY MIND BACK TO A FEW THOUGHTS OF SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL IN RELATION TO NOBLE MEN AND B*****DS.. IT FITS HERE BECAUSE YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE SOME HANG UP ABOUT YOUR fM SUPPOSEDLY HAILING FROM A SO-CALLED SRI LANKAN NOBLE FAMILY.

      HERE’S SIR WINSTON’S QUOTE. THINK ON IT, IF YOU HAVE THE INTELLECTUAL DEPTH TO DO SO.

      ” MANY A B*****D HAS COME FROM NOBILITY AND MANY A NOBLEMAN HAS COME FROM THE GUTTERS ”

      THIS WAS IN THE COURSE OF AN ADDRESS TO THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT MADE BY SIR WINSTON.

      I PERSONALLY THINK IT TAKES A MAN OF A NOBLE MINDSET, A NOBLE HEART AND A NOBLE SPIRIT TO FEEL AS DEEPLY AS THIS MAN JON SNOW DOES. PERSONALLY , I FEEL THAT GAMINI PEIRIS, WHO HOLDS A BRIEF FOR PERPETRATORS OF SUCH DIABOLICAL CRIMES SEEN ON CHANNEL 4, CAN NEVER EVER EVEN DREAM OF MATCHING THE INTEGRITY OF A MAN SUCH AS SNOW IS.

      ONE PROBLEM IN THIS WORLD IS THAT PEOPLE SUCH AS YOU ARE ALLOWED TO GET AWAY SCOT FREE AFTER MAKING YOUR COMMENTS DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY CONTAIN INSULTS.

      THAT THE MODERATORS OF THIS BLOG POSTED YOUR COMMENT ON IT IS ALSO A DEFINING INDICATION OF THEIR SENSE OF HONOUR, DECENCY AND FAIR-,PLAY IN PERMITTING YOU THE RIGHT TO HAVE YOUR SAY.

      IT’S AN UGLY THING TO BELITTLE THE DEATHS OF THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS AND EVEN THE KILLING OF AN ENEMY WHO HAS SURRENDERED,.NO MATTER WHAT ATROCITIES HE HAS COMMITTED.

      GUESS WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED TO JON SNOW HAD HE BEEN A SRI LANKA JOURNALIST. LASANTHA WICKREMATUNGA WAS KILLED FOR LESS.GAMINI PEIRIS IS A PAID MINION OF WICKREMATUNGA’S KILLERS.

      IT WOULD APPEAR THAT ANY CRIME COMMITTED IN THE PURSUIT OF PRABHAKARAN’S LIFE WILL BE GLOSSED OVER BY A PERSON SUCH AS YOU.

      cORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG BUT WASN’T THE SRI LANKAN ARMY COMMANDER HIMSELF WHO BROUGHT EXPOSED THE “WHITE FLAG” CONTROVERSY ? WHY WAS HE REMOVED, SILENCED AND IMPRISONED ?
      WAS HE ALSO A ‘ROWDY’ BY YOUR DEFINITION ?
      . .

  19. kris says:

    Why is Britain prepared to co-host even a drinks party with Sri Lanka’s government so long as those horrifying closing weeks of Sri Lanka’s civil war, and the war crimes that flowed from them, remain unaddressed?

    Diplomatics and educated people will not answer to questions from paid terrorist agents like Jon Snow , Clallum Mcrae, these journalist live on blood money of the terrorist.

  20. Iqbal says:

    Jon Snow has endevoured to highlight the double standard of the British Government in dealing with leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka. Both these leaders treat their minorities with contempt and persecute them but the latter is rewarded with engagement in parties and allowed to host the CHOGM. The miltay almost all of whom speak Sinhalese language rule the Tamil speaking minority with iron fist.

  21. Duminda N Jayatileke says:

    This is a disgrace. The SL genocidal govt being paraded around as if nothing has happened. Why are the Australians so damn cool about everything? They are appalling and disgusting to sip drinks with murders. As a sinhalese who lives in SL, I have seen Tamils discriminated against and slaughtered.

  22. AKP says:

    Another example of Geo Politics overriding humanitarian concerns. The meeting was part of the carrot and stick strategy now under way. On the one hand there is pressure on Sri Lanka (stick) which is widely known to be guilty of genocidal violence against the Tamil people.This meeting with the perpetrators of the war crimes is the stick. The objective of the Western actors involved in this elaborate charade is to prevent Sri Lanka from further moving into the Chinese orbit.

    The murder , maiming of the civilians by luring into ‘safety zones’ is articulated only to the extent of it serving the interests of those international actors seeking to contain Sri Lanka.

    As Meg Howarth has mentioned above it is truly ‘nauseating’

  23. kris says:

    Commonwealth countries will be greeted and facilitated by a president, and a government, against whom evidence exists of war crimes and crimes against humanity

    Only Channel 4 has the photoshop evidence , no civilised person in the world will accept lies

  24. shaka says:

    i think 400 thousand tamils in uk sud openly challenge next election and remove cameron from no 10 this challenge for tamils

  25. Kalaiarasan says:

    Tamils have become the most neglected people recently for reasons unknown. In addition, we have earned the wrath of the westerners and the Sinhalese have become their new friends. Even though the Petrie report mentioned that the SL government forces are responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths, it was neither mentioned anywhere by the chief of UNHRC in her speech nor any independent international investigation was recommended. Justice delayed is justice denied.
    A special thanks to Channel 4, Jon Snow and Callum Macrae for their relentless pursuit to bring the Tamil genocide to light.

    1. Mala Yaka says:

      “…we have earned the wrath of the westerners…”
      If you are wondering why, it’s the fault of tamil diaspora itself! Gang violence, Credit card frauds, funding terrorism, being a general public nuisance etc. Lot of us don’t like these attributes associated with you guys.

  26. UKRAJNADAANANTH. says:

    THANK YOU CH4 NEWS TEAM.

  27. Donald says:

    Many thanks for Jon and C4 team continue to highlight worst GENOCIDE in 21st centuary.
    However, the world powers and leader with UN let this happens with full knowledge and now trying to hoodwink critics by sending UN human right chief Navi Pilla after 4 years, masking the genocide of SL government over Tamils as bad governance and authoritarian regime. This is path is desing by abettors of genocide, recent election in SL has again shown to the world that Tamils rejected Sri Lanka role over them, there is no bogy man for the west and its media to blame LTTE. Will the give justice to Tamil and their right for self-determination that they yearn since 1977 by overwhelming democratic mandate.

  28. Sujeewa says:

    You all are a bunch of proxy of the most ruthless terrorist group (of yesterday), LTTE. Cry, Cry, Cry. But you will not get any thing. Sri Lanka is booming – both economically and in democratic modes. After 30 yrs, last week, the Tamils elected their preferred reps to manage the northen provincial administration. You are not going tio live “Peaceful Sri Lanka”, which most innocent Tamils have now chosen to. Sri Lanka is a lesson to US, UK and the western world on how to face the terrorists. Not to spread the imperilism as what you all have done in Iraq, Afghanistan and now heading to Syria.

    1. Lanka Liar says:

      Sri Lankan is booming – with terror war crimes corruption, kidnapping, child molestation and above all the highest per capita Lies by miles. No body can match Sri Lanka in this

  29. Senthil Thirugnana says:

    I thank you for your diligent work in this matter. It hurts to hear what went on last night Jon. If not for you & Channel 4, the genocide that took place in 2009 would not have reached the western world. Thanks again for all your hard work.

  30. Sathya says:

    Great article and very valid questions. Hope CH4 will bring this to attention of Britsh public with the headlines

  31. Srivanamoth says:

    It was truly nauseating to read the news that Britain sold $ 3m worth of arms and ammunition to private parties only about 2 years ago. And it was alarming to see on BBC in 2009 that Britian sold $12.4 B during the so-called Peace process period with an apology of “sorry, we did not know that those arms and ammos would be used against innocent civilians”!
    What a weird, weird world we live in!

  32. B dan says:

    The “Challenges and Prospects in Uplifting War Widows in Sri Lanka” reports’ launches in the House of Commons on Wednesday 16th October.
    The launch will review the current status of the War Widows in the north and east of Sri Lanka and look at how to stop the systematic abuse of women and promote access to services and justice. Special attention will be given to full implementation of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by the Sri Lankan government to protect widows from all forms of discrimination and exploitation. MPs are welcome to attend.

  33. singam says:

    Dont forget, the same people was drinking with Sadam and Kadafi too.

  34. Mr James Wilson says:

    Sri Lanka is a test case for the Commonwealth. It is hard to understand how the Sri Lankan military could repeatedly and deliberately target hospitals. According HRW, Sri Lankan forces destroyed more than 30 Hospitals between Dec 2008 – May 2009.
    ” (New York) – The Sri Lankan armed forces have repeatedly struck hospitals in the northern Vanni region in indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks, Human Rights Watch said today. Commanders responsible for ordering or conducting such attacks may be prosecuted for war crimes.

    Patients, medical staff, aid workers, and other witnesses have provided Human Rights Watch with information about at least 30 attacks on permanent and makeshift hospitals in the combat area since December 2008.
    One of the deadliest took place on May 2, when artillery shells struck Mullaivaikal hospital in the government-declared “no-fire zone,” killing 68 persons and wounding 87. – HRW 08 May 2009.

  35. Neloufer says:

    Mr. Snow – have you lived in a country where life was uncertain for civilians who were the targets of terrorists? I am a resident of Colombo who has been touched by suicide bombings and while two members of my immediate family were victims – one as she walked across a busy Colombo street and another while waiting for a train at the main railway station – while I narrowly missed a suicide bomb while driving home. My car literally went up in the air and down before I could take a breath. We lived with death without notice for too many years and our governments were too timid to take a stand amidst international arm twisting, even though the TIgers were proscribed by a majority of countries. Obviously, the stand these very same countries have taken post-war, has made a mockery of the proscription. There was no war against Tamils. You have sadly got it wrong. Our Armed Forces are obviously more Sinhalese than any other ethnicity because the Sinhalese comprise 76% of the entire population. Is your army in the UK not similar, where the majority would be English? So if the UK government waged a war against, say, against Muslim extremist, would it be accused of killing Terrorists or Muslims who are still a minority there? ALL Sri Lanka has a Right to Life. Too many innocent people have died at the hands of Tamil terrorists, including Tamils. Why don’t you research our history properly? Our govt. is a democratically elected one. It is not a Junta. It is being chastised for giving the correct leadership simply because you are pawns in the hands of an extremely powerful Tamil Diaspora who are cocooned in your countries, enjoying benefits that none of us have in Sri Lanka. Good for them but bad for us because we need to get on with our lives and live as we have not lived in more than 30 years. 60% of Tamils live in Colombo and the suburbs where the Sinhalese are a minority of 26%. Now they want the North and East, too – a mere 12% of the entire population of Sri Lanka? we have had race riots, just like you and just like you, we have gone on. By and large Sri Lankans live in harmony. Your tone, Sir, is supercilious, arrogant and smug. We are no longer in awe of the ‘white’ man. We were a proud nation with kings and an ancient culture long before the west set eyes on us, so your two cents is just that. Two cents.

  36. Shiva says:

    This party simply illustrates the British regime continues to live with the Apartheid mindset, supporting the Sri Lankan Sinhala Buddhist Apartheid regime and racist towards the Tamils.

  37. Jaffna Tamil says:

    Thank You Jon Snow, I think people should propose your name for Noble Prize. If the Camera is not allowd then try and draw few pictures of these culprits. Like to see them eating and drinking their last supper.

  38. aruna ranasinghe says:

    CH4 is so corrupt, trying all these tricks.
    Is this the only way getting some attention.
    After all Sri Lanka is so strong CH4 is taken for a ride here

  39. Dasantha says:

    You Sir is a remarkable Journalist, you stand against everything that Journalism is about thus makes me think whether you are journalist at all.

    When writing about SL you have forgot the most important thing, but it was clearly visible in all your articles, it was right in front but you and C4 seemed to missed it or simply ignored it. Because it was just not good for business.

    In all articles you and your colleagues mentioned about the deaths of the Innocents in the last phase of the war, which means that you clearly understand that the war was almost 30 years old and yet you only speak of 2009. Why is it that you only speak of 2009? Were you not existed on this good earth before the year 2009? or you were simply blind until 2009? Every time I see your articles all I can feel is that you have no regards for the people who died of the war, at least not on human level, you are promoting 2009 because it is what good business. What about all the Sri Lankans who died due to war in all parts of my country, were they not human?

    I do not understand this new found love of yours for SL Tamils, it’s not that I am saying you’re wrong but I have not heard you ever speak about Child Soldiers, the certain individuals who are living in UK responsible in putting guns in to the children’s hands are they not criminals ? How is it that they became refugees? What about those who are responsible for training the human bombs? How come they became refugees? Not war criminals? Most of all how come that you never speak of any of those? How come you do not speak about the war criminals that are living in your own country? Why you and C4 are so silent about them? Are not in a position to write about the above or simply its good money and good business?

    I will give you the idea of an average Sri Lankan,
    “At present we are happy in our country, it is not perfect but it’s ours, do we have issues which we need to sort out “yes we do” and so does in UK. So stop worrying about us and try to correct what is wrong in your own country”.

    1. Shiva says:

      @ Dasantha, your writing may be applicable for the Sinhala hardliners and criminals who may be sleeping well and not for others as they live in fear, oppression, rape and murder. There is no rule of law and the law of the jungle exists in Sri Lanka. No one can receive justice in Sri Lanka.
      Do we need International Law, UN, Commonwealth and other institutions if a regime can commit genocide, mass murders, rape and get away from responsibility and accountability?

      1. Sam Lank says:

        It is good to revisit truth about HR in Sri Lanka and how and why it was lead to current status. Tamil terrorists not only killed Sinhalese and Muslims but they killed respected mainstream Tamil politicians such as opposition leader Amirthalingam, Foreign Minister Kadirgamar (who was tipped to be prime minister), scholar Thiruchelvam, and the list goes on. Tamil terrorists were banned by USA and other western countries for blunt violation of human rights, including recruiting of child soldiers, ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Sinhalese from the north and east, connection to global terrorism such as Al-quida etc. Terrorists brutally killed respected Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandhi because he helped Sri Lankan leadership and moderate Tamil political leaders to start peace negotiations. Tamil terrorism must be carefully watched by all peace loving citizens of the world. We are glad that Mr Rajapakse’s leadership has defeated what CIA labeled as the world’s most brutal and ruthless terrorist organization. Sri Lanka now has to build bridges between the communities, an area Mr Rajapakse should give more focus and also contain southern extremists. Also Mr Rajapakse should strengthen the constitution that no Tamil terrorist groups can even find a hole to risk unitary status of the country as he has a 2/3rd power vested in him. Also he should build an unbreakable security network to protect Tamil, Sinhala, Muslim people from clutches of Tamil terrorism and avoid further mayhem.

  40. shashi says:

    Those who are concerned of the lost lives must post the questions to dead terrorists in hell, asking why they kept hiding behind a human shield???
    If they were Freedom Fighters, then they should have released them to safety and given them the protection.
    Instead, all what those terrorists did was holding back the development of entire island that would have benefited 20 million people of Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and all other communities.
    Sadly, some of the Western countries and their agents in the NGOs supported the Disruption process in anticipation of gains during the Construction process after the turmoil.
    Funnily, terrorists got defeated and NGOs got expelled and Western supporters were blacklisted thereby Chinese are having a grand take away :)
    My advice to those who are still worried is; Just mind your business and look after those who have come to refuge with your taxes. Now it is too late to get turn your old economic wheel of wealth creation through the induction of Disruption and Construction mechanism on third party states.

  41. CCD Kingston says:

    All humanitarians please strongly urge your MP’s to attend the launch of “Challenges and Prospects in Uplifting War Widows in Sri Lanka” report
    The House of Commons, Committee Room 9
    Wednesday 16th October
    6.00pm to 8.00pm

    An envoking report on the status of the War Widows in the north and east of Sri Lanka and look at how to stop the systematic abuse of women and promote access to services and justice. Special attention will be given to full implementation of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by the Sri Lankan government to protect widows from all forms of discrimination and exploitation.

  42. James Wilson says:

    Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma may have covered up two key independent legal opinions on the legality of Sri Lanka’s impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, withholding the content of those opinions even from the powerful Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).
    Kamalesh Sharma has been widely criticised for soft-peddling the Sri Lankan state’s increasing violations of Commonwealth core values and the incumbent administration’s erosion of democracy and human rights. It is believed Sharma used his good offices to prevent Sri Lanka from being included in the CMAG agenda.

    1. WINSTON DE VALLIERE says:

      This is a very serious matter raised by James Wilson and one wonders why the commonwealth appoints men of his caliber to such pivotal positions. Of course, Sri Lanka would not have easily been excluded from the CMAG agenda had some very effective intervention not taken place. and the finger points at Sharma who so very warmly welcomed Rajapaksa in New York.

      one thinks that Channel 4 would do well to check out this man’s credentials and even question him on these issues.

      One certainly gets a very strong feeling that this matter needs some very serious probe by Channel 4 because what seems to be the core issue here is tantamount to the protection of perssons against whom there is serious evidence of war crimes.

      Is Sharma implicitly involved in blocking or influencing the course of justice ? if so, he is then also guilty of aiding and abetting in jeopardising the course of justice..

      Over to Channel 4. Jon ?

      1. Meg Howarth says:

        Seconded – both James Wilson’s comment here and in more detail below.

  43. AKP says:

    I find the comments about ‘child soldiers’ by the very same people who supported the perpetrators of the wanton murder of children to be utterly hypocritical and revolting-to say the least.

    Many of these ‘child soldiers’ (and here i refer to not those forcibly conscripted by the LTTE in those dark desperate days in 2009), but those’ ‘children’ who joined them earlier were the sons and daughters of parents raped, killed and maimed by a barbaric and brutal army bent on genocide. Successive Sinhala Governments are the ones who made this happen and at the end of the day there is no escaping the fact that ‘child solderers’ were the creation of brutalities visited upon families.

  44. James Wilson says:

    On August 15, Colombo Telegraph exclusively revealed that the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma who had commissioned two key legal opinions from eminent Commonwealth Jurists on the Sri Lankan Government’s impeachment of its Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake had decided to withhold the findings of those reports from the rest of the organisation.
    Sharma refused to disclose the findings, even to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the Commonwealth’s organ to measure state compliance with the organisation’s core values and principles. Queried on the topic by the Canadian High Commission in UK, Sharma responded that some matters were ‘privileged’ communications to his office.
    Justice Langa, who later passed away, issued his opinion on the matter in a memorandum to the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, dated March 5, 2013.

    Langa concludes in his memo that the disregarding of the Supreme Court ruling on the so called impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was unconstitutional, a direct violation of the Commonwealth Values and Principles and a serious violation of the Doctrine of Separation of Powers.

    The late Jurist also concludes that the appointment of a de facto Chief Justice (Mohan Pieris) to replace Bandaranayake was both unconstitutional and unlawful, since the incumbent Chief Justice was not validly removed.
    A copy of this report was found among Justice Langa’s belongings following his death. Justice Langa passed away after he concluded his report, which was possibly his last international assignment, which Commonwealth Scholars and analysts say should have been available to the CMAG before its meeting on April 26 2013. The CMAG during its April meet discussed the Sri Lanka issue extensively, even though it was not officially on the agenda, because of the country’s recent lapses in terms of upholding Commonwealth values and principles, especially in light of Bandaranayake’s impeachment. It is learnt that yet another legal opinion along the same lines was provided to the Commonwealth Secretary General by another UK Jurist, as commissioned by the Secretariat. Sir Jeffrey Jowell, Q.C., Emeritus Professor of Public Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law, University College London However that report too is believed to have been suppressed and withheld from CMAG and other member states.

    A clear cut legal opinion that had been commissioned by the Commonwealth for clarity on the Sri Lankan issue, delivered by jurists eminently respected by the organisation would have provided greater insight for CMAG to exercise its mandate in terms of the Rajapaksa regime’s compliance with Commonwealth principles and values.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/expose-full-text-of-sharmas-buried-report-impeachment-violated-cwealth-principles-sowed-seeds-of-anarchy/Ref:

  45. Meg Howarth says:

    STOP PRESS Canada’s PM Stephen Harper to boycott Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka http://gu.com/p/3jbjz/tw

    Will William Hague now do the same?

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      Correction: meant David Cameron, not foreign sec Hague in the above. I did tweet ‘RSVP’ to Britain’s PM but, alas, no answer.

  46. Corea says:

    Talking about human and civil rights, those who wish to be treated as civilized humans should first learn to treat others in the same manner, otherwise they risk being treated in the same manner they treated others. That being said, nobody can blame the GOSL for communicating with the Tamil terrorists in the only language they were willing to understand.
    Secondly, as president Rajapaksa announced immediately after crushing down the Tamil nationalists rebellion, he announced that all citizens living in Sri Lanka will be considered as Sri Lankan citizens and not as Sinhalese Tamils Burghers and Moors, and that Sri Lanka will be the homeland to all peace and harmony loving people who respected the rights of others.
    Peace and harmony loving Tamils were never nationalists but patriots who loved their county and folk. The times when Tamils were enjoying privileged status during the British Colonial times are long but over. The wealth, jobs and opportunities will be shared by all people working hard to achieve something in life.
    The people living in the liberated Sri Lanka are known as Sri Lankan nationals regardless their ethnic background. Nationalists who lost their balls and tails after wedging a bloody war should now stop braying like castrated donkeys and focus on developing the nation for the future generations, if not pack your bags and leave. Nobody forced them to stay now will they be forced to leave.

  47. Nagen Ramraj says:

    The war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Sri Lankan military and the president himself have been documented with credible evidence. The experts appointed by the UN concluded that an international investigation is necessary. Human rights watch and UNHCR are calling for an international investigations. Its becoming abundantly clear series war crimes have committed by the president and his family. Yet the Tamils are losing hope that they will ever receive justice.
    70,000 people were massacred and many more are still languishing in prisons and under occupation by a brutal military.
    The leaders of the international community such as Secretary General of the UN Ban ki Moon, Mr Sharma, the Secretary of Commonwealth are behaving, what appears to be a dishonest manner to safeguard the Sri Lankan President and continue the brutality against the Tamil minorities. UN diplomat Mr Nambiar’s role in the killing of surrendering political leaders of the LTTE have been reported by many independent journalists.
    The defence secretary of Sri Lanka declared on tape that hospitals operating in Tamil areas are legitimate targets and that the Sri Lankan forces will bomb them.
    But, the diplomats and politicians from India, Pakistan, Russia, China, Iran, Israel and many more Asian and African countries are continuing to support the Sri Lankan government, which is guilty of war crimes.
    For the innocent Tamil victims, this is a hopeless world with no values for humanity and Justice.

  48. RAJAN says:

    So with this principles of common wealth will die. Is it Common wealth head of govt. meet or Criminal head of Govt. meet?

    Thank you commonwealth for cheating people for so many days.

  49. bhumi says:

    With the release of a video clip from Channel 4 television’s ‘No Fire Zone’ documentary, showing footage of what the British channel said was the arrest by Sri Lankan soldiers of Isaipriya, an LTTE television newsreader, India’s ‘Newshour’ TV programme last weekend featured a debate titled ‘Can this footage be ignored?’ A point made by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, a speaker on the panel, was that the footage was not authenticated by ‘Newshour.’ Channel 4 said it had authentication, “but how do you know?” asked Dr Swamy. He went on to argue that all he saw was the picture of a woman, some soldiers giving her a sheet to cover herself with and then helping her get up and walk away. From that the surmise comes that she was raped, she was killed etc.

    Swamy’s point draws attention to a typical feature of the Channel 4 documentaries on Sri Lanka that seek to incriminate the Sri Lankan armed forces over alleged war crimes. Nothing is authenticated, nothing is proved, everything is based on surmise and through an assemblage of visuals in such a manner that the viewer is led to believe that war crimes were committed. Viewers’ perceptions are manipulated so that they accept the meanings given by Channel 4′s narrative, to the visual sequences. For example pictures of some identifiable people are shown, followed by pictures of unidentifiable dead bodies which, it is asserted, are those of the people earlier shown alive. When atrocities are depicted Channel 4 suggests to the audience who the perpetrators, victims, times, dates and locations are. The narrative build-up and emotional momentum of the drama is such that most viewers would unquestioningly accept the interpretations of the image sequences suggested by Channel 4.

    Lev Kuleshov was a Russian film director who developed what is known in film studies as Soviet Montage theory. He showed how in film, meaning can be derived not from the shots themselves but the order or sequence in which they are assembled. (‘Montage’ in French means to build, organise or assemble.) Kuleshov demonstrated in an experiment how juxtaposition of different shots could change how an audience felt about certain scenes, and derive a new meaning from them – known as the ‘Kuleshov Effect.’

    In his now-famous experiment, Kuleshov showed an audience a single close-up shot of an actor’s face, intercut with other images — a bowl of soup, an infant in a coffin, a woman reclining on a sofa. The audience, reacting, was full of praise for the actor’s range of expression in response to the different situations. In fact it was the same shot of the man’s expressionless face that had been intercut with these images. The expressions the audience thought it saw – of hunger, pity and desire — were created in their own minds, with a new meaning derived from the intercut shots.

    Russian film maker Sergei Eisenstein further developed Montage theory, showing how two or more images edited together create a ‘tertium quid’ or ‘third thing.’ The concept is best illustrated in the ‘Odessa steps’ sequence of his film ‘Battleship Potemkin.’

    The influence of Montage and related experiments on contemporary video is well known. It is plain to see in Callum McRae’s documentaries on Sri Lanka. While Eisenstein’s classic work belonged to the era of silent film, Channel 4 is helped along considerably in its project by several other factors, the most obvious being the use of sound, narrative and dialogue. We are not aware of what kind of cutting and splicing has been done in this department.

    Another factor is the availability of the endless possibilities of digital image manipulation. One of these is the possibility to ‘tweak’ facial expressions. At one point in ‘No Fire Zone’ a group of young female LTTE suspects is shown being taken away in a trailer. In one frame a young soldier carrying a gun is shown escorting them, looking tired and somewhat harassed. For about a second the soldier’s face disappears from the top of the frame. It then reappears, but the tired expression has been replaced with a leer. The change is not obvious because the face is at the edge of the frame and off-centre. But it would no doubt register subliminally in the viewer’s mind.

    There is much that is unknown about the creation of the documentary ‘No Fire Zone,’ not least because its authors refuse to release the original footage to either the UN or the Government of Sri Lanka for independent digital video analysis. What is known however is that Channel 4 as well as most of those ‘testifying’ for them in this video, for one reason or another, have reason to be hostile towards the GoSL, and could therefore have motives other than the purely altruistic. Channel 4′s Nick Paton Walsh and his crew were deported from Sri Lanka in 2009. Ex-UN staffer Gordon Weiss left Sri Lanka disgruntled with both the UN and the GoSL. The video footage was reportedly supplied to Channel 4 by ‘Journalists for Democracy,’ a self-exiled group that, again, has an axe to grind with the government by whom they say they are under threat. The young Tamil woman with a British accent who appears repeatedly in the video has been identified by the GoSL as an LTTE operative, with cadre number and dog tag.

    It’s also known that the LTTE regularly photographed and video-taped its own atrocities, and that it had a super-efficient propaganda arm to circulate material to an eager Western media. Where this material ends up and in what form is anyone’s guess. Add to this the powerful revenge motivation of pro-LTTE Diaspora groups bent on discrediting the Sri Lankan state, and it becomes clear that Channel 4 doesn’t need to try very hard in convincing significant sections of its target audience. The tidal wave of propaganda building up against Sri Lanka represents the mobilization of a complex configuration of forces, and ‘No Fire Zone’ merely rides that tide to international ‘fame.’

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