17 Nov 2013

An open letter to Sri Lankan journalists

I definitely detected a delicious sense of “schadenfreude” from among you brave – but mischievous –  Sri Lankan journalists, over the relentless harassment of me and my Channel 4 News colleagues by state intelligence, police and immigration officers.

I’m not referring to the ranting rottweiler “reporters” who do the regime’s clunky propagandist bidding, although I have no doubt that they enjoyed it too.

Read more: Sri Lanka, ‘impossible journalism’ and Channel 4 News

I’m talking about those of you who live with such harassment yourselves, day in, day out, and don’t – or can’t –  complain.

Those of you who confided in me that doing what you do is sometimes really hard.

‘State repression of the press’

Come on, admit it. Finally us Brits were feeling the chill wind of state repression of the press in your beautiful tropical paradise – and we were feeling it at first hand.

Wasn’t there just a little part of you that secretly relished knowledge that that our train north had been blocked by pro-government demonstrators, tipped off by the intel agents travelling with us?

And what about when you heard that for the final couple of days of our visit we were being tailed by no less than five separate state intelligence vehicles? Didn’t you let slip a little smile?

I’m not suggesting for a moment that you didn’t sympathise with us when you heard that a gang of thugs had pelted us with rocks as we left an interview on Saturday.

You also probably recoiled, as we did, at the sinister broadcasts on state TV, as Callum Macrae, my friend and colleague and Director of No Fire Zone, was repeatedly denounced as a supporter of the Tamil Tigers.

I do know you shared our disgust and indignation when we were removed from the lists of “approved journalists” deemed worthy of attending news conferences with your delightful president (the one who, by the way, still owes me that promised cup of tea.)

If it hadn’t been for some persistent haranguing of your Mass Media Minister by Commonwealth Spokesman Richard Uku and by the indefatigability of my Editor, Ben de Pear, we wouldn’t have got in there.

Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims

Don’t worry though if you did “schmirk schadenfreudenly” at some of the above. This assignment had its angsty moments, but we enjoyed it too. We love your country.

And for all that is reported to the contrary, we know that we have many friends there.

Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. So many people gave us secret thumbs-ups or whispered, winked or nodded their support. Sometimes in the most surprising places.

There aren’t many things that I delight in more, as a journalist, than turning a camera on pesky intel irritants in a repressive country.

The opportunity I had to do just that in downtown Colombo, near the York Street HQ of CID, was, I’ve got to say, unusually satisfying.

It’s up there with a fight I had with my Gaddafi minder and tops similar run-ins in Zimbabwe, Burma, China, Syria and Sudan.

That said, I do not mean to make light of what these agents of state repression are capable off.

‘Push the boundaries’

As foreign journalists, visiting during a major international summit, and with our own prime minister and foreign secretary in town, we had a security blanket I know that you don’t have.

I reckon it was thought unwise to arrest and torture us or kill us, tempting as it must have been.

Both Callum and I had death threats prior to coming, but we recognise that it was much safer for us than it is for you.

That is why we felt it was important to push the boundaries as we’d have expected to have been able to do in a “free and democratic country” as your president called Sri Lanka yesterday.

Mahinda Rajapaksa has maintained that he’s committed to Commonwealth values – which include freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

How he’s done so, while keeping a straight face, I cannot fathom. Some of your newspaper editors are tethered goats. Your state TV is edging towards Pyongyang.

I know that at least nine of your number have been murdered in the past ten years.

There are few things that chilled me quite as much as reading Lasantha Wickrematunge’s death foretold.

Prageeth Eknaligoda

I wince in pain when I hear Prageeth Eknaligoda’s wife still pressing to find out where her abducted husband’s gone.I too have heard what you’ve all heard: that nothing at all of Eknaligoda remains.

I know that the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Sri Lanka 162nd out of 179 in terms of independence of the press.

I know the red lines which you cross at great risk to your life expectancy. I know it can be difficult for you to write critically of the Rajapaksa brothers.

You cannot write about the army and, unlike us, you can’t really even mention the war.

I know that you live with what Reporters Sans Frontieres ranks as the worst record for press freedom for any parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world.

But then again, to cast Sri Lanka as a parliamentary democracy is kind of stretching irony.

But for all the restrictions, I marvel at the inventive ways you find to bravely do your jobs.

I nearly fell off my chair in Rajapaksa’s press conference yesterday when a Sinhalese journalist was the first to stand up and ask the president about war crimes allegations.


We were all witnesses to what he did. I hope to God he’ll be OK once the spotlight’s off Sri Lanka once again.

I’m sitting writing this on the plane, having been forced, by threats to our security, to leave faster than we’d planned for.

I’ve been reading your Sunday papers. I understand how clever you are being, in the sometimes oblique ways in which you have to work.

I really understand how difficult it is. I understand the terrible dilemmas you must face when quoting people who themselves are putting their lives at risk. It’s really hard. I share your anxieties.

It was inspirational to have met you. We all admire you for the way you operate in the face of this repression.

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73 reader comments

  1. mojindar-gaia says:
  2. David Smith says:

    I still think Sri Lankan government is better than UK because they didn’t bug your phone. I am sure German chancellor Angela Merkel will agree with me.

    1. Manny says:

      With so much knowledge available to you through social media networks yet alone documentaries and videos. How could you possibly suggest the Sri Lankan government being better than anything? I dont question your opinion on governments bugging phones but if your going to make a reference please avoid such ignorance. I hope to be speaking on behalf of my community as I say this, and I assure I mean no disrespect.

    2. HRas says:

      Bugging is something governments do when they don’t have the power to be brazen. I guess you don’t need to bug phones if you can just take people away in vans, then torture or kill them.

    3. Sach says:

      LOL you got that right!

  3. Kumar says:

    Dear Jonathan Miller and colleagues,

    Thank you for all you have done to the voicelessin the North.

    I came to this country in 1975 from North as a single man and I studied at a British University in late seventies and gained peofessional qualifications and still working in the City of London. I am a family man with kids who too are preofessionals. This country has given me life and prosperty. There are many like me. I am glad that I left this beautifil county- as problems intensified more and more still now. We need a DeKlerk and desmond Tutu in Sri Lanka.

    I came to this country, even before I heard of LTTE leader Prabaharan, due to state supression of Tamils- in education and employment. I for the last 35 years or more wonderd in silence whether our suspression and discrimination in Sri lanka (Ceylon then) would ever be the knowledge of the international community.

    Yes. I am fully satisfied and my dream has come true now. It’s because of you and your team at Channel 4 News (John Snow and Callum Macre). You gave voice to the voiceless. Channel4 is a wonderful institution. It is because of Callum Macre’s No Fire Zone that that British PM said what he said in Sri Lanka and visited Jaffna, Yes, it is because of C4 that the Indian PM or Canadian PM or Mauritius PM boycotted CHOGM in Colombo. The Indian Finance Minister, Mr P Chithamparam, told reporters the day after your No Fire Zone was released that he had believed what had happended to LTTE news reader, Isaipriya; he condemned the crime, so as Indian Environment Minister, Mrs Jeyanthi Nadarajan. It was these ministers who had a final word with Prime Minister Singh for the boycott. Indian Defence Minister Anthony also joined in.

    Sri Lankan government was the same and has the same attitude towards Tamils since 1960’s and their intellegence is notorious, especially fouth floor. You have done an excellent reporting from Colombo and Jaffna. Sadly the government organised protests and had stopped you from reporting from Vavunia. The 1983 anti-Tamil riots in the south of the island was also organised by the then Prime Minister Premadasa, later became President. The Sri Lankan Presidents are capable of organising this kind of protests or anti-Tami or ant-Muslim activities with short notice to their thugs. I am only relieved that the world knows now the Sri Lankan government’ sinister secrets. We need journalists of your calibre and courage to take on war crime suspects like President Rajapkse and his brother Gotabaya. We the supressed in Sri Lanka thank you and thank you. Hope something good come out of your reporting and CHOGM 2013. Hope people of North and East live with peace and diginity after all. God Bless you.

  4. Daniel Joseph says:

    Channel 4 had burnt the bridges in SL, well be fore you came to SL and hence the hostility you experienced. If you look at your programmes on SL over last 3 years, Mr John Snow and you all was hell bent on attacking SL, through out the programmes. I would say 95% of coverage was to attack SL, which meant that indirectly you gave the expression that your are supportive of the LTTE and the funders of the LTTE in UK such as British Tamil forum. You never gave a balanced view.
    I believe most of your information and contacts would have come from BTF, who wants to take revenge from SL, what ever the way they can and channel 4 was a pawn of it.
    If BTF tries to flag up Human Rights issue in Lanka, it is you duty to ask them of their ‘human rights credentials’- such as….
    1. Over last 30 yrs did they fund , support, nurtured the most brutal terrorists
    2. When the LTTE massacred innocents for 30 yrs, did they ever protest against the LTTE based on their barbarity.
    3. When the LTTE terrorised their own tamils, with only allowing ‘tamils to open mouth to eat’ did they fight for the rights of tamils
    4.When the LTTE kidnapped thousands of kids from the arms of parents, did the BTF protest ?
    5. When the LTTE destroyed all of tamil life- human values, jobs, industry, economy, did they utter a word against them based on human rights?
    6. When the LTTE kept the whole of tamil population at gun point as hostages and took them from one end to the other end of the country what did they do to protect people. Why did not they ask the LTTE fighters to fight SL forces as true freedom fighters rather than hiding behind innocents. Wasn’t this the reason for massive human death toll?
    7. LTTE were the biggest killers of tamils ( probably before the final phase)- what did they do to stop it?
    8. When the LTTE shot the innocent tamils who tried to flee for freedom did the BTF do any thing to stop it?
    9. Didn’t the BTF not only fund the LTTE but also cheered, encouraged them
    10 Did the billions of money they contributed to the LTTE as given to innocent tamils to get a panadol, grain of rice or a text book?

    So, what right have they got to fly the human rights flag against the govt. now????? Yes, govt has to answer some specific grave issues but that does not allow you to succumb to the pressure, bogus info from organisations such as BTF and similar others !!!
    Give a balanced picture. If so, majority of the blame has to be on the brutal LTTE !!!

    1. Periathamby Casinathen says:

      Mr Daniel
      The golden rule is you do not make enemies with the media some will be out right pro or anti regarding any issue depending from from where you view the article
      Please remember all journalist from the west while publishing an article about Sri Lankan conflict they refer to BOTH parties commited atrocities during the last stages of the war
      One party that is the LTTE is not there any more but the government of Sri Lanka is present and claims that it is democratic

      To jog your memory during the war GOTHA proclaimed to the Australian TV live that they( The Army) will continue to bombard the LTTE Hospitals This is a violation of Geneva convention which the Sri Lankan Government is a signatory to it when he is charged for ar crimes will you say that it is fake just as your government accuse channel 4 clips ?

      When allegations of atrocities surfaced The president declared that his soldiers went to liberate the Tamils with one hand holding the gun and the other holding the book which specifies how to conduct with the civilians so zero casualties

      Then they came with figures less than 1000 2000 3000 and that number has reached 7000

      I am sure you are an intelligent person who knows about satellite images you can buy these from companies showing how the governemnt attacked the no fire zones and later how the mass graves were cleared by your new found friends and the bodies were cremated and dispersed they forgot the Satelite images that was gprovided during the war can also be used against the regime to bring them to justice

      we are witnessing history in the making please take it it easy when JVP iNSURGENTS were killed 30000 in 1971 and another 40000 ( thrity and forty) there were no rumps to talk on their behalf but that does not mean the Tamils are going to sweep it under the carpets just like the Sinhalese did

      Namo namo matha in Tamil (This was one reason the LTTE came in to the history)

      Peri nathen

      1. Daniel Joseph says:

        No, I have not defended the govt and if you read carefully you should see it clearly. Crux of my issues are
        – Channel 4 has not given a balanced picture and I feel that majority of the blame for the final calamity should lie with the LTTE for keeping poor tamils as hostages rather than fighting as true freedom fighters man to man.
        – Also, is organisations like the BTF- if they were truly concerned for the human rights of all humans, they should have vigorously opposed the LTTE. You can be indirectly responsible for utter brutality and massacres for 30 yrs, and now fly the flag of human rights and shed crocodile tears!!!

      2. Wallace says:

        Who started this war? Could you please enlighten me on this. I only see two parties attacking each other. But who drew first blood the Tigers or the SL Govt. ?

      3. Sach says:

        So called war is what developed western nations call Terrorism when it happens to them.

    2. Glen says:

      Mr. Daniel,
      You are comparing a terrorist organization (As you call it) with a democratically elected government. Is this correct? or are you giving equal status to a terrorist organization and a government? In your words, if the LTTE can kill 50 people, the government can kill 50,000 people..is that what you are trying to say? Then you have to accept LTTE and SL Government both are criminals. Though LTTE did criminal things, how such an organization came into existence is a different story.

    3. Niqa says:

      Hi there,
      Daniel Joseph; Firstly, Just to inform you that the Government of Sri Lanka had decided it was correct to start the war and kill MILLIONS of Tamil people. For example, if there was a Christianity majority, hating everyone and killing everyone, what do you think everyone would do? Would you WANT to be voiceless and die just because Tamils don’t deserve to live for absolutely no reason? Those people are innocent. But I agree that the LTTE may have done a FEW things, not near close to what Rajapakse has done. I’m assured everyone has seen the distressing images and videos in No Fire Zone, and did you see the way women were raped, several times, people were shot in the face, all brutally murdered. Is that humane? Is that allowed?

      1. Mel says:

        Hi Niqa,

        Just to be clear, you do know that LTTE was killing innocent civilians for more than 30 years and Rajapakse became the president only 8 years ago right? better get these simple facts right before spreading hatred with false info :)

        And please don’t forget that LTTE was considered as ‘the strongest terrorist group in the world’. Why is it so hard to understand that if somebody didn’t end the war, there will still be deaths, gun shots, and bombing. NO MORE KILLING IN SL. we are not losing anymore lives and that’s what important.

  5. thushara says:

    a terrorist report with blood money


    APRIL 2004 – MARCH 2009


    1. Aiyathurai A. Nadesan – Journalist / 31 May
    2. Kandaswamy Aiyer Balanadaraj – Writer / 16 August
    3. Lanka Jayasundera – Photo journalist / 11 December


    4. Dharmaratnam Sivaram – Editor / 28 April
    5. Kannamuttu Arsakumar – Media worker/ 29 June
    6. Relangee Selvarajah – Journalist / 12 August
    7. D. Selvaratnam – Media worker/ 29 August
    8. Yogakumar Krishnapillai – Media Worker / 30 September
    9. L. M. Faleel (Netpittimunai Faleel) – Writer / 02 December
    10. K. Navaratnam – Media worker / 22 December


    11. Subramaniam Suhirtharajan – Journalist / 24 January
    12. S. T. Gananathan – Patron, Tamil News and Information Centre / 01 February
    13. Bastian George Sagayathas – Media worker / 03 May
    14. Rajaratnam Ranjith Kumar – Media worker / 03 May
    15. Sampath Lakmal de Silva – Journalist / 02 July – killed by Army Intelligence
    16. Mariadasan Manojanraj – Media worker / 01 August
    17. Pathmanathan Vismananthan – Singer and musician / 02 August
    18. Sathasivam Baskaran – Media worker / 15 August
    19. Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah – Media owner / 20 August


    20. S. Raveendran – Media worker / 12 February
    21. Subramaniam Ramachandran – Media personnel / 15 February
    22. Chandrabose Suthakar – Journalist / 16 April
    23. Selvarasah Rajeevarman – Journalist / 29 April
    24. Sahadevan Neelakshan – Journalist / 01 August
    25. Anthonypillai Sherin Siththiranjan – Media worker / 05 November
    26. Vadivel Nimalarajah – Media worker / 17 November
    27. Isaivizhi Chempian (Subhajini) – Media worker / 27 November
    28. Suresh Limbiyo – Media Worker / 27 November
    29. T.Tharmalingam – Media Worker / 27 November


    30. Paranirupesingham Devakumar – Journalist / 28 May
    31. Rasmi Mohamad – Journalist / 06 October


    32. Lasantha Wickrematunga – Editor / 08 January
    33. Punniyamurthy Sathyamurthy – Journalist / 12 February
    34. Sasi Mathan – Media worker / 06 March

    1. John Pillaye says:

      So no journalist killed after 2009 as c4 claims??

    2. Ruwan says:

      no killing after 2009. are you accepting that,

      1. Trogen says:

        Yes.. Because every journalists in srilanka are now washing the legs of president for their survival and car permits

    3. bala says:

      Jonathan sir, this guy (pon aiiya) is not tamil. he wrote bad words in sinhala. if you don’t konw the meaning, ask any other person to conform, please.

    4. Sach says:

      Why don’t you also mention for whom the Journalist worked for and who did the killing? Because many journalist in the list were killed by LTTE and others were from the LTTE media unit who for some reason has gained the name journalist instead of terrorist.

      It is very easy to shape opinions by misinformation which is basically what Channel 4 did.

    5. Blahblah says:

      I strongly recommend this list from Committee to Protect Journalists for a list on journalists killed in SL, along with circumstances and possible motives. — http://cpj.org/killed/asia/sri-lanka/

      If you read through, you could see political motives (government criticism, killed by warring Tamil militants or political parties) as well as non-political circumstances behind the deaths (caught in suicide bombs or crossfires while on duty).

  7. Sasika says:

    First of all I would like to thank Channel 4 for your hard dedicated work to get justice.

  8. Kiran Sivan says:

    Dear Jonathan Miller

    Thank you for visiting our country and I am really sorry for what happened to you and to your crew there. So far your the bravest journalists I have ever known. A Big thanks to your and other journalists from Channel 4 and thanking Channel 4 from heart for having journalists like you and the news releases. Please don’t loose hopes and continue bringing the truths to the public and help the Tamil minorities to get JUSTICE.

    If foreigners/journalists are getting attacked and receiving death threats in Sri Lanka think about the Tamil Minorities who is fighting for Justice in the Country and the some other good people in Sinhalese community who is trying to give justice/support Tamil Minorities in the Country.

    I wish I can ask Mr Rajapatsa and his brothers that if you don’t have blood in your hands why won’t you let International/UN to carry out international inquiry into alleged war crimes Or Abductions/disappearances in Sri Lanka. After all this latest events or video footages. why can’t they challenge Channel 4 and other Governments/UN and let the inquiry to be carried out Independently.

    Also if you treat all people equally and respectfully why would people go Violent in the Country. Its not just 100 people in the country seeking for Justice its the whole Tamil communities in the world (inc. Tamils in Sri Lanka, India, Europe & Canada) more than 80 million tamil people. Take a VOTE worldwide and see what tamil communities wants.

    Even Muthaiah Muralitharan (Top Cricketer) will tell public/press what he really think about the Government if Sri Lankan government promise him will not do any harm to him. People are scared to talk about the government in Sri lank and thats why people living out side the country pushing. So far I don’t see any Sinhalese (except those ones who supports tamils and respect human lives) Lost sons and daughters Or Crying out loud for help and Justce.

    See what is happening in the western countries they treat all people equally and One LAW for ALL. Even the MPs, Presidents and Prime Ministers, government are scared of the Law and the public because they all respect the Human Rights and lives. This is my first post on the internet about this matter and I wanted to express my feeling about the whole thing. I don’t know if I will be punished from the Sri lankan government for writing this on your page when i go there in the future. I am just a normal person but I am even scared to reply to your posts and tweets. I am sure lot of other people wants to reply to your POST and Tweets online but they are Scared to write and give personal information. All tamil people in foreign countries are scared to talk about it because of their relations who is currently living in Sri Lanka. The government/army will go after them. It happened a lot of times. People are even scared to protest in UK now because they are scared about anything could happened to the love ones back home. I have some sinhalese friends and they even don’t like whats going on. Simply Good people seek justice and bad people always wants escape and cheat on others.

    I know lot of my friends want to reply to your posts and tweets online but they are scared to write and give personal information online. I am sorry I am not brave to fight for my people in public because my family and relatives will be hurt by the government back home. Thank you for your support and please continue your excellent work. Thank you for reading.

  9. theepan says:

    i , on behalf of tamils ,would like to thanks a lot for your team who have been doing great job for the tamils who lost their voices in sri lanka .

  10. nalini says:

    I think you channel 4 is given by god to help our tamil to come to the life from slavery. Thank you for fighting to stop our tears and fears.You are the reason that this world becomes to look at us. I pray for you all ever and ever.

  11. Gangani says:

    Lasantha Wickremathunge was a great Journalist and his paper as well as his TV shows always challenged the people who were doing wrong .Fredrica Jansz is also of the same Calibre.Mahinda regime does not only hate tamils from the north they also hate the Sinhalese who question them- so most of the educated, civil and cultured Sinhalese.

    The regime’s supporters are the thugs from the south who mostly have never read these papers or watched these shows as they are illiterate and also would never have understood what you were trying to say as they can only understand Pidgin English……

    Srilanka is not a democracy and does not even qualify to be a member of the commonwealth.

  12. Ravi says:

    Hi Sir
    It was a very courage’s thing to do in Hitler regime in sri lanka what you have done ,Hats off to you and your team ,NO words to say Big thank you .

  13. kalum says:

    You are doing a great job well done,,,,
    LTTE will pay you more…
    Cameron will also earn lot of money after this visit…

    1. HRas says:

      Channel 4 have been equally condemning of the LTTE and their brutal tactics both against the Sinhalese and Tamils.

      It is so ridiculous to suggest that Channel 4 is in any way affiliated to the LTTE.

      Can you not open your mind for one second to the possibility that there could be some truth in what C4 is saying? Perhaps they could be biased, perhaps they may have some inaccuracies, but could they not have shown some uncomfortable truths about the Sri Lankan government and military?

    2. Gangani says:

      LTTE paying channel 4 ?? are you bonkers ? LTTE is no more , and Channel 4 is publicly owned unlike your crappy Rupavahini so they don’t need LTTE’s or anyone else’s money….

      Just because they are telling the truth don’t accuse them of getting money from LTTE…LTTE is no more after 2009 and even the few who escaped cant afford to give money to a television as they don’t even have funds to run their own website “tamilnet”

  14. Nuwan says:

    It is really funny how you FORGOT that your Cameron PM who was talking about press freedom DID NOT ANSWER LOCAL JOURNALIST QUESTIONS ?? and ran away !!

    it shows how biased you are ! at least your president MR answered questions from CH4 ?

    CH4 is just a film maker, not journalist as they make films as per the requirement of the customer (LTTE) and twist any thing as per requirement.

    CH4 all this hype is not the British point of view, British people have bigger problems. this is only to get LTTE money and LTTE votes !

  15. Maruwa says:

    Dear UK kings and queens baby journalist you have Hypoactive sickness…please go for medicine….

  16. Maruwa says:
  17. Peace loving Tamilan says:

    Dear Jonathan

    It was great reports from SL for last 4-5 days and In UK one of the mainsteam News was SL and war crimes. Well done all!!!
    You all have used this great opportunity to high light main Tamil Issue and SL government has failed theirs aim in theirs PR in this commonwealth summit. Every News channel reports, based in Tamil issues and Northern SL.
    Also very moving report from Jon Snow from Jaffna and those Tamil women were hanging on to Jon and want to pass those desparate letters through Jon to Mr David Cameron. It was very tearful reports you have provided, thank you sir.
    I strongly believe Mr David Cameron will take strong action against SL government after March 2014. We all awaiting for this day for so many years.


    Tamilan, UK

    1. Mel says:

      u don’t seem to be very peace-loving. just saying :)

    2. Daniel Joseph says:

      Who is actually responsible for the tamil deaths in the final stages?? Isn’t it the LTTE? Why did they hid behind poor tamils civilians for 5 months…. is it because they ‘loved’ the tamils or is it because the shameful LTTE leadership wanted to sacrifice and hide behind to tamils to prevent imminent defeat. If the LTTE fighters were true freedom fighters, why did not let the people go and fight the SL army- man to man!!!! Didn’t they shoot tamil civilians trying to flee?

      You say in the final war hundreds of kids died…. but didn’t you protest to the LTTE when they kidnapped thousands of kids from the arms of screaming parents to sacrifice on the bogus alter of self determination. If you did so, hats off to you sir….. but if you did not bury your head in the sand first !!!!

  18. Raj Ubendran says:

    Hello Channel 4 team,

    Hat off to Channel 4 and the team for their work they have done in the last few days during the summit in Srilanka. Specially for Jonathan Miller, Callum Macrae for their brave and very courageous job they done in the most testing circumstances and stood for most oppress people in (Tamils) the entire globe I can only admire and take inspiration from it.

    Well done, keep up the good work.

  19. quietoaktree says:

    “As foreign journalists, visiting during a major international summit, and with our own prime minister and foreign secretary in town, we had a security blanket I know that you don’t have.”

    –very true.


    “It was inspirational to have met you. We all admire you for the way you operate in the face of this repression”


    “I have been absolutely shocked about the way the Guardian has been treated, from the idea of prosecution to the fact that some members of parliament even called it treason,” said La Rue. “I think that is unacceptable in a democratic society.”


  20. Daran says:
  21. Sathya says:

    Here we go terrorist in your own land…..
    You are covering one side of the story stop it for name of journalism….


    1. HRas says:

      Yes, this stuff goes on in the UK – Tamil gangs – no one is denying it or hiding it. You have shown evidence and we believe it.

      So why is it that when C4 show evidence you bury your head in the sand? Sometimes the truth is difficult to swallow, right?

  22. kana says:

    your dedication on mankind and peace are greatly appriciated.the whole world is watching you. people who are opposing you the violaters of humanity.be a real solder of jouralism. you have born to save justice and peace inthis universe, nothingelse.

  23. George says:

    Dear Jonathan, an interesting article. its good that you highlight that many of us actually love Sri-Lanka (unlike the British Tamil Forum et al). We have issues with the Government but we still want to see a united country that is not divided on ethnic or faith grounds. Murali was brave but unlike the BTF, GTF and Disapora in the UK etc, he walks the walk (literally) and support communities across the Island through his Foundation of Goodness along with Sri-Lanka Unites. Interesting to see the nasty comments from the BTF and others when criticising Murali and putting very negatives comments about his charity and the work of Sri Lanka Unites. Murali never said he represents SL Tamils, he cares about Sri-Lanka and the people living in the country and does his best to support all our communities. The BTF respond by saying “he is from Kandy so will never understand the Northern or Eastern SL Tamils’. This sums up the closed, insular and rather narrow perspective of the BTF and the Eelam brigade. I urge Channel 4 and the PM not to listen to the ethnic nationalism and fundamentalism of the BTF and other Eelam groups. All they want is a seperate state for Tamil people in the North and East and forget everyone else. I would respect them if they just said this inside of hiding behind human rights allegations. Of course criticise and challenge the Government and hold them to account, but also listen to the moderate groups and NGOs who want to see a united, fair and just Sri-Lanka for all communities. Not a divided one based on ethnicity or religion- this is what the BTF and others want. I am a Sri-Lankan with a Tamil mother and Burgher father with Sinhala cousins- so i suppose that would make me a traitor to the BTF and Eelamists wouldnt it.

  24. LankaN says:

    I am SO very proud to be Sri Lankan. And I am So very grateful to you Jonathan, and the rest of the team! I live in the comfort and security of your country to which I am so thankful. So in confidence, I give you all a HUGE thumbs UP – Wink and Smile and say please keep doing what you guys are so good at doing – that is being the voice for the voiceless!

  25. jj says:

    Excellent Miller !

    Thank you channel for team for your best job in Sri lanka.

    Keep on pressure !

  26. punchinilame says:

    You have done what you do best – with even a Nobel Prize.
    Mahinda Rajapase does what he knows best – he does it to for the Dynasty.
    In between we look for Devine redemption.

  27. Wendy Ells says:

    Bravo! Haven’t heard such a clear picture of what really goes on in Sri Lanka for a long time. It is a shame that so many Sri Lankans cannot see what is right under their noses. I guess that’s what happens to a people after decades of press silencing and propaganda.

  28. Davidson Panabokke says:

    Channel4 and British govt have done what everybody guessed.
    Pl do something about the unpublished reports Prez Rajapakse is hiding from the public:

  29. Eureka says:

    OK short term solution well done.

    Let’s talk about long term/sustainability to find solutions for all problems systemically:
    Now for the Long Term, Report(Oct 2013) by Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations

  30. Aathy Arun says:

    Yes Miller, It is really great and entirely truth what you have spoken here. Being a Sri Lankan, I know and can understand what u tell from your feelings. It is really a great challenge you and your team have taken and it is unbelievable thinking of your courage to make a decision to enter this country and face everything on first hand approach. You all have brought the truth to the light in several occasions in several countries. For many years, the one man rule in Sri Lanka now has emerged to a family dictatorship. The real situation is now shown to the world. Now the decision is with the hands of the international society. Hope with no further time lags, a permanent peace situation will be made.

  31. Daya says:

    Wel done C4. Sinhala people should try to understand Tamils needs . They only listen what thier politician says

  32. poornima says:

    What!! you didn’t have the cup of tea?

  33. Mel says:

    seems your interest in innocent civilians depends on the amount written in the cheques they put in your pocket. no offense, i know in real world money does lot of talking. :)
    Would you blame LTTE for their war crimes if they won the war instead of SL troops? I highly doubt that :)

    If you look inside a room from a keyhole, you’ll only see a lil bit. specially if someone knows you’re looking from there, you may only see what they want you to see. It could be what you choose to see as well.
    Not a huge fan of the Rajapakse, but as a person who grew up with a war, and seen both the war and peace, trust me i know what’s better. Maybe it wasn’t done the perfect way, but 30 years of war has ended. And we have people of many ethnics living here peacefully.
    What’s important is what’s happening now. I accept the fact that things are not perfect, but its thousand times better than how it was 10 years ago. The no of deaths were talked about in hundreds. Be it sinhalese, tamils, troops or terrorists, those were humans we lost. And i’m simply glad that we are not losing them any more.

    so i guess it’s better if we all focus on what’s happening right now in SL, rather than what happened.

    We are at peace. please let us be :)

    1. LankaN says:

      @Mel – at peace??? Which part of the planet do you live in? Innocent Muslims getting stoned and mobbed, Christian churches and priests being persecuted, Journalists silenced and killed, and the THOUSANDS of Tamils up north who have lost their loved ones to war. You just have join me and thank GOD that we were not born in Jaffna and didn’t have to go through what they went through, and didn’t have any of our family members kidnapped in a white van -Not knowing their whereabouts for years. You really call this peace? God I pray people in the city wake up to the reality that it so could have been us.

  34. karnan says:

    Our sincere thank for Jonathan ad his c4 team.You are doing a good job , standing with the voiceless poor Tamil people who still going through severe discriminations by singhala rulers and its racist hard lined people.I am sure the world is now understanding the dirty tactics and lies of the Sri Lankan rulers.I have amazed to see you differentiate the fake protesters and the real ones in pain when you visited to Jaffna. You can look at the sri Lankan history , when anyone speaks the truth they always brand them as LTTE or LTTE funded , they have called former British foreign minister David Millaband “white tiger ” when he asked them to stop the war on innocent Tamils.They called Navi Pillai as LTTE sympathiser , so this is not something new we are so used to this .All we beg you is to stand for the truth and help Tamils to achieve their justice .Thank you and god bless you all.

  35. naju says:

    Thank you channel 4. You guys are brave and are god-like to many people in the world. You will always be remembered for your great deeds.

  36. shiva says:

    thank you channel 4 team for your brave work. who comments against them(proud SL Sinhalese)
    u can understand from ur comments about your tolerance on other people. thank you for that

  37. Rajan says:

    Thank you Mr.Millar,wrong thing can’t hide long time,You are our Load jesus .

  38. Konesh says:

    Hat off to Chanel 4 crew as a Tamil.I can’t find the word to thank you !!!!
    We all Tamils thank full to you.
    Thanks again.

  39. wajira says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I think you have done some thing better then Ch 4. Bc, There ve blocked comment on all youtube Clips they have post on you tube. You are talking about free media but you have blacked to comment on it I can’t understand why they want to do some thing like that. thanks for visiting my beautiful Sri Lanka. as I have read I seen you have been telling that you have got lot of troubles. first I want to say sorry what happened to you there.

    But you want to understand you here for reporting CHOGE ! not something else I think it also valid to your PM too. for last 30 years you have never talked about LTTE problems. but now you want to talk about last few days on this Humanitarian rescue operation. I can’t understand what kind of right you have to talk about this problem.

    Why are you pointing your finger on people who protest against you in Anuradapura as ” pro government Protesters ” If people see that you are doing some thing wrong they can stand against you. That is the democracy as you said if it was pro gov protest what about you want to say in Jaffna. few of Tamil woman hung on Jon Snow. I’ll call, it was a set up by you for media propaganda too.

    You want to understand you country never ever can’t talk about human rights with out apologizing all of the colonial countries you have used to rule. I don’t know about other countries but in Sri Lanka. your grad grandfathers have killed hundreds of thousand freedom fighters and raped sixty thousand women. How about we start it form here. Are you ready to pay our price. all your luxury life you got their form every thing you have stolen form our countries.

    You country Is the only colonial ruler witch did not apologize to there colonial countries. I think you people still like to think that we are under your control. some people like you like see that brown and black people are always wrong but white people are not. you have to understand it’s wrong.

    You want to understand what kind of hard time we had here in Sri Lanka for last 30 years. what we want to do? can’t we fight against termism. what should we do kill our selves ?.

    I Can write here all day long what you have done wrong to my country. but we have a saying here ” you can wake up some who really sleep but you can not weak If they are in fake sleep”
    you can choose witch one you are ? but I cant believe some one who depend on blood money do it.

    *** since you have work for LTTE and M16 you can give my email address to follow-up about me..

  40. Thulasi says:

    I would like to thank you Jonathan miller, Jon snow, Callum Macrae and the whole channel 4 crew to voice for Tamil people.

    we know what is happening in Sri Lanka from 1948 til now. But the Sri lankan government hide everything with the help of Indian government. (Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh etc..).

    Ban Ki-moon, Vijay Nambiar and kamalesh sharma also helped the Srilankan government to hide the genocide of Tamils in Sri lanka.

    Because of you (channel 4 crew), the world is speaking about the Tamils problems now.

    you know, you had too many problems even as a foreign journaliste in Sri lanka. So you could understand now how the local Tamils and journalists get problems from the government of Sri lanka since 1948.

    I’d like to write more. but I’m not fluent in English and i don’t know the words more to explain.

    Thank you again.

  41. Jilska says:

    C4 you guys are awesome…. Now the whole world knows who is trying to hide dirty laundry… Please continue you work as you are safe to do so unlike us the srilankan journalists….

    Please also cover the oppression of journalists, opposition parties and also the Sinhala catholics who are being targeted by this Sinhala Buddhist only thugs….

  42. anthony manoharan says:

    Dear Jonathan, I am similar to Kumar above, an UK resident over 4 decades and who was fortunate to escape the ethnic cleansing of the Tamils. My sincere thanks to you for the courageous trip your team from C4 made to Sri Lanka. A local newspaper reported the dirty trick campaign by the govt to make the taxi driver to complain that the C4 team did not pay his fares.
    It is a pity the govt stooges prevented you from visiting Killinochi. We admire your efforts and wish you well in your efforts to present true journalism which is a dream out of reach for those journalists in Sri Lanka.

  43. Niranjana says:

    We admire your continued and persistent efforts to contribute towards a truly peaceful society in Sri Lanka that will emerge only when Truth is told and Justice is done. Thank you for sticking it out here inspite of the kindness we showed you! As a citizen of this country I apologize for all that we did to you during the last week and salute your willingness to become vulnerable and exposed.

    We need to expose this regime…Especially the majority community needs to see that these leaders they brought to power do not care whether they live or die; that communal hatred and LTTE phobia is being used to blind them so that they could rob in broad day light; that they are being fed with lies about the economy…only then the end will come for this corrupt, evil and murderous regime.

    Sad to say, for most of us what happened at the end of the war and human rights issues for the minority are non issues. We wake up only when the evil reach our doors. We need to see how dangerously greedy is this government; how it will not stop from ruining or killing anyone so that they have more power, more money, more land and that even the majority community is no exception to this….then we will vote them out and hand them over.Justice, sometimes, is done in a round about way.

    I pray to God that we what will shake us from our slumber will be exposed soon.

  44. indika says:

    Dear Jonathan and Callum Makray,

    One simple thing you should understand.  Tamila and Sinhalese people (and muslims too) have been living in this country in peace and harmony, for centuries.  

    It was Britishes who created hate and anger between the two ethnic groups, for their (Britishes) own intertest.  Unfortunately, once you left our country in 1948, our national eaders (both Sinhala & Tamil) could not come back to the correct path, and they simply continued on the wrong path.

    Until 2005, the ‘War’ was not common man’s war.  It was the dirty politicians’ war.  (Once again, both Sinhala & Tamil politicians).    Until Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power, no one needed to find a proper solutions for it.   Even president Rajapaksa tried to come to an amicable solutions with LTTE.

    Have you heard what pushed president Rajapaksa to war ?  

    Have you heard about…..
    – Sri Maha Bodhi attack by LTTE ?
    – Sri Dalada Maligawa attack by LTTE ?
    – Central Bank bombing by LTTE ?
    – Dehiwala train bomb by LTTE ?
    – Piliyandala bus bomb by LTTE ?
    – Pettah (near CTB bus stand) bomb by LTTE ?
    – Kebithigollewa bus bomb by LTTE ?
    – Lion Air plane attack by LTTE ?
    – many other incidents of brutally slaughtering innocent civilians in rural villages in the North & East, bomb by LTTE ?  
    – Assassination of Mr. Neelan Thiruchelvam by LTTE ?
    – Assassination of Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar by LTTE ?

    How do you (or the others who have commented iin favour of C4 here) JUSTIFY those attacks ??

    I do not mention here about their (LTTE) attacks on busses transporting (un-armed) soldiers who were going on leave to meet their families, because it could on one hand be considered as a clash between rebels and forces (a war is a war).

    – have you heard about the closure of the Mavil Aru by the LTTE, violating the right of free-access to water resources of the innocent people in that area (which made president Rajapaksa to decide to finish LTTE – don’t take it wrong…. Finishing LTTE does not mean finishing Tamils.  LTTE is only a rebel group.   And, in a war, when a terrorist coming towards you with a gun pointed at you,  is there any way to identify whether that it a real terrorist who joined LTTE willingly, or whether LTTE abducted that guy and gave a gun to his hand forcibly ?    As I mentioned earlier, a war is a war.    Poor parents of those who forcibly taken into LTTE only know that their young children had no idea of a separate country and have been killed or is missing.   No need to wonder when they shout asking justice for their childrens’ lives.  But, whom should really be accused ?   Government forces who shot that ‘terrorist’ or the LTTE who took him forcibly into the battle ground ?????)

    Do you know that, when hundreds of thousands civilians fled from LTTE and came to Army controlled area (from Vellamulli Vaikkal), it was so-called brutal (in your point of view) Sinhalese who got tother to collect thousands of tonnes of food, cloths, medicine, drinking water etc., and sent to those fellow SRI LANKANS.     (Your Tamil Forum friends will not show this side to you.   They even do not know these things, bcoz they are living in UK, Canada, Scandinavia etc., for decades and do not know the ground reality here).

    We want you to know, that it would be the common Sri Lankans to come forward and protest against the government first, if they have massacred innocent Tamils.    Sri Lankans do not tolorate such things.   But, rather than just accusing president Rajapaksa and his forces, come up with valid evidences.  Your videos do not prove the point.

    NO !!! We do not believe that president Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa or our forces committed war crimes !!!


    1. LankaN says:

      @ indika – I totally get your point. But what i don’t understand is why everyone is commenting on all the atrocities committed by the brutal LTTE as a defense to the government??? The argument is not one way or the other. I TOTALLY despise what the LTTE did. There was a time when I would cringe every time a bus came close – expecting it to be my last few moments alive. (Thanks to the LTTE bus bombings). But having said that, NOTHING justifies the rapes, disappearances, and killing of all those innocent civilians. It is wrong! I have friends who stand up for the government too. due to the peace, prosperity and opportunities that they are having in life. That’s Great! but one thing for sure……….If you happened to be born in the north, and it happened that it was your daughter who was raped and your son kidnapped in a van, never to be seen….. We would not be having this discussion.

  45. Sri Lankan says:

    Hi Jonathon,
    No words can express the sense of gratitude and admiration all Tamils (And many Sinhalese) in Sri Lanka have for you and your team.
    You have seen the repression first hand. When a murderous regime has the final say about what each person in the country is allowed to see or hear, it does have an impact on the people. Especially Sinhalese who live far away from the war zones don’t even have a clue as to what really happened and is happening. The government is hell bent on painting itself as a savior. The ‘western world’ is the evil empire that would do anything to destroy Sri Lanka. They are all paid handsomely by the now destroyed LTTE and it’s supporters who apparently have enough money to buy the whole world. And it is our King Rajapakse who is the only hope for defending our people from evil people from western countries funded by Tamils living abroad.
    Can you imagine that’s what a lot of Sinhalese people believe this nonsense? This is what happens when an evil Government has a monopoly on information. Thank you so much for highlighting our plight! For us Tamils you are more than a Godsend. And you have provided a glimmer of hope to Tamils and well informed Sinhalese. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  46. Nathan says:

    Hats off to you all at Channel four especially Jonathan Miller.
    I would like to make appoint, to all(Mainly Singhalese) saying why you(Channel 4) dig the past?
    This is not about the past, this is about what happening now? About the tortures, rapes and murders happening now right at the moment. Of course the past is the evidence. I couldn’t believe those so called genius couldn’t understand this simple thing. Unfortunately even most of the Singhalese are fear of their Regimes. They never enjoyed the freedom of speech, media, even in their own places. You have to say and accept who ever rule the country says.
    You have to be a relative/friend/feet washer of a top official or the minister to live peacefully in Sri Lanka.

    This culture should change, I am sure at least the poor Singhalese and some educated people will accept this.

    The Peace,People and Freedom lover


  47. Suresh says:

    Dear Channel 4 Team,

    Your true journalism has paid the way for the world to look down at the current President of Srilanka and his family members who are responsible for the mass killing of Tamil minorities. Systematic Ethnic Cleansing of Tamil minorities began since 1956 following the independence from the Great Britain in 1948. Tamils lived along side the Sinhalese everywhere and contributed to the local community in their education and the civil administration. On the other hand the Sinhalese were educated in the east and north and peacefully lived with the minority Tamils.
    SWRD Bandaranayke was the one to be blamed for the beginning of the racial hatred in the lovely Island. Tamils were killed in tens in the beginning and hundreds in 1983 riots. Finally in ten of thousands of Tamil civilians were massacred in the government declared safe zone in 2009. We have heard of so many commissions, select committees to investigate the alleged crimes against the Tamils but no single persons were found to be charged. The affected Tamils were not compensate until now. The hard line Sinhalese and retired security personnel are favoured by the government and their limited knowledge never was enough to summarise a report. This ignorance further encourage the rioters and local thugs to act without a fear to hurt the Tamils anywhere in Srilanka.

    As a citizen of Srilanka and a member of the minority group of Srilanka I express my gratitude for making the head of British Government to shone a light on Srilanka.

    Also I wish to request you to continue your journey until the war criminals are punished.

  48. Blah Blah says:

    Haha, a veritable tongue-in-cheek blog post. I guess Miller and C4 crew probably do have their questions as to why journalists in SL, the group truly affected by regime’s media repression, did not flock to the C4 crew and readily support them in their quest for media freedom, justice and democracy and whatnot, esp. when C4 crew was being severely harassed, as your blogposts and twitter posts indicated. Well, I’m not sure why C4 crew expected such, given the extremely divisive reactions to their documentaries and articles. Simply, I think people are confused. Even local journalists (not just govt. supporters, even bitter critics of the government) are reluctant to jump on the C4 van, and not necessarily because they fear for their lives. No one locally really knows who you are, and when you first visited SL, people had already made up their minds about you. (The visiting part should have been done BEFORE airing the documentary). I mean can you blame them? The documentary came out of nowhere, it was clearly made for an international audience, and not actually for the people of SL. I mean look at the comments here– divided on Sinhala/Tamil nationalist sentiments, extremely emotive and full of half-truths and downright ignorance. This is as far as C4 reporting goes. C4 could have presented a complete, unbiased picture of SL war crimes (The things C4 reported have been reported in the past, sometimes by LTTE media as PR tactics, but also by local human rights groups, and some have been taken to the courts too). Had that happened the dialogue on human rights in SL would be notably different: introspective, not defensive denial, I think, instead of the utterly humiliating shenanigans you see now. Reading local papers, all I remember now was how the C4 crew didn’t pay their van driver’s fee (which converted to pounds isn’t that much). In the end, the CHOGM and the C4 crew antics in SL was nothing but an expensive spectacle the already battered people of SL will end up paying for years to come.

  49. Sadith says:

    Hey Miller get a life, before you write open letters to SL, you better write letters about British police and intelligence officers harassment of journalist in UK. Tell us how the hell you didn’t felt the chill wind of state repression of the press in your own country !!!! In 18th August British police arrested and questioned Mr. Miranda, partner of the journalist Glenn Greenwald at Heathrow airport for 9 hours. Mr. Glenn was writing about the documents leaked by Mr. Snowden. The British police gave this as the reason why they did that

    “intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity that had the potential to act against the interests of UK national security”.

    If UK can say that, Sri Lanka has the absolute right say the same. You are involved in espionage activity against SL period, but you didn’t got arrested or questioned for 9 hours in SL. This mean SL is much better place for journalist than in UK.

    Always remember when you point a finger at others, there are three fingers pointing at you.

  50. Suresh says:

    Dear Jonathan

    You have mentioned about the State Repression of Media in this article. The Tamil ethnic in Ceylon/Srilanka has been under the State Repression since 1948. The Tamil youths initially armed themselves to protect themselves mainly from CIDs from so called 4th floor and from the local Police. Having succeeded they then try to protect the community they belongs to. This is the very brief of the arm struggle of Srilankan Tamils to which 95% Tamils supported (some openly and some indirectly). The Tamils expectation was very high because of the involvement of India, Norway and South Africa.
    LTTE were the reason for many civilians death but the targets were simply not the public but the government facilities. Airport attack was another one that was carefully planned to avoid the civilian casualty.
    So it is very difficult to say that they were terrorists. People loved them so much and they had set up their own government in which the law and order was exceptionally impeccable.
    Question to Jonathan- How do react under these circumstances, suppose you experience this repression, where;
    1. Regular home visit by military in the middle of the night
    2. Your siblings are taken for interrogation
    3. Female family members are under all sort of harassment
    4. Your close friends get disappeared
    5. You are provided with an identity card that enable the ethnic
    6. You must get the police clearance to live outside your area, mainly in the
    big cities.

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