Sri Lanka escalation

The war in Sri Lanka is by all accounts into a 'final phase'. Though I've heard that phrase before....

The LTTE has accused the Government of shelling civilians, the Government have accused the LTTE of shooting civilians who try to leave the area, using them as human shields. If this report by Human Rights Watch is anything to go by, they are both correct in their accusations. Here is a sample.

Under international humanitarian law applicable to the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, both the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE are obligated to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilian life and property. But since January, both sides have shown little regard for the safety of civilians in the embattled Vanni region in northeastern Sri Lanka, and more than 4,500 civilians are believed to have died in the fighting, according to UN estimates. The LTTE has violated the laws of war by using civilians as "human shields," by preventing civilians from fleeing the combat zone, and by deliberately deploying their forces close to densely populated civilian areas. The Sri Lankan armed forces have indiscriminately shelled densely populated areas, including hospitals, in violation of the laws of war.

There is very little real information about the situation and it is reports from aid agencies, such as the one above that are being relied upon. The Government has prevented journalists from going anywhere near the frontline and as a result there is very little reporting on the issue - I read one article today in the New York Times that was filed from Hong Kong and a Channel 4 (UK) report contains footage filmed by aid workers.

I worry about this for the simple reason that if journalists cannot get to an area to report upon the situation, and the only way any news can get out is through the aid agencies, will this mean the agencies themselves will be persecuted in order to censor the reports? I know this happens plenty, where aid workers are acused of working for the enemy (of whoever is doing the accusing) and by banning journalists, more pressure is applied to the aid workers themselves who not only have to do the job of helping the dispossed but also reporting on the situation.

I have a simple plea; let journalists in, so the aid workers can put down the cameras and get on with their other job.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tavis Smiley interview M.I.A, hip hop musician and Tamil Tiger, about the conflict in Sri Lanka. She supports the Tigers, refering to the actions by the government as genocidal.