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Minority Rights Group International has just issued a report which repeats a lot of the unsubstantiated critiques of the Sri Lankan state which we have heard in recent months. The BBC asked me to respond to three specific points, which I did, though ultimately the story was not used. I think this shows maturity on the part of the BBC, to realize that this sort of extravagant generalization is not of great importance to the world at large.

However, since another source brought the report to my attention, I thought it would be useful to publicize this initial response. The attack follows a similar pattern to what we faced in the past, with a tendentious press release that makes horrendous generalizations – “Human rights violations in Sri Lanka continue unabated against ethnic Tamils and Muslims who fear an increasingly nationalist government” – which are not borne out at all by the report. I was reminded of the first such effusion I saw, when Human Rights Watch issued a release that talked about indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the East, whereas the report itself recorded only one such incident, when civilians had died, but as a result of mortar locating radar. The report recorded that the LTTE had been present with weapons in the refugee camp that was attacked, though it claimed, knowing better than the radar, that there were no heavy weapons around.
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Rajiva Wijesinha

January 2011
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