The meeting at the House of Commons to screen ‘Lies Agreed Upon’, the refutation of several falsehoods propagated by Channel 4, provided many interesting insights into the manner in which the whole case against Sri Lanka is being built up.

The screening was intended primarily for politicians, so that discussion could be of issues germane to the ongoing political discussion, but the High Commission also realized there was interest in other quarters, and it had intended to have other screenings of the film too. One was being planned for the media on Saturday 15th, while I was still in London, since I too had had an expression of interest from the ‘Guardian’ when they rang me about the Liam Fox issue. They also told us that Tamil groups were upset at not being invited, which seemed strange because the type of person who had complained had not previously attended events that the High Commission had organized. Still, since some Sinhalese who had attended such events were also upset, at the restrictions that had had to be imposed given the limited numbers possible, it obviously made sense to have more events.

We needn’t have worried. Those who wanted to get in to attack the Sri Lankan government did so, which was all to the good because they were told by several Tamils as well as Britishers present that it was necessary now to move forward.

Siobhain McDonagh MP

Amongst the politicians who turned up was one who had come to disrupt, but after one attempt to divert the discussion to British media problems, she left and did not come back. This was Siobhain McDonagh, who it was revealed had been in touch with Channel 4 over the making of their film. She also brought with her two people who she claimed were her researchers. One was a young man who had  signed himself into the meeting as Daran who told me however that he was a freelance journalist called Canaa. He claimed to have been in touch with Dr Shanmugarajah while the latter was in Mullivaikkal, and promised to send me photographs that he claimed he had got from him dating to that period.

When the promised pictures did not come, I called him up, to be told now that he actually worked for the Bank of Scotland, and he would definitely send me the pictures soon. He was a strange boy, obviously deeply commited to the cause the LTTE had upheld, though I suspect that, were it not for people like Siobhain McDonagh who have no scruples whatsoever in their thrust for electoral popularity, his energies could be channeled into support for the Tamil people rather than the rump terrorist movement.

It will be necessary however to persuade him to look at facts rather than to regurgitate falsehoods. When I was discussing the inconsistencies in the Channel 4 film, and in particular the fact that it was finally admitted that it had been edited, by the so-called UN experts, he denied this and said that it had been certified that it had not been edited. When I asked him by whom, he said that Channel 4 had said so. I then quoted to him the extract from the UN expert report that mentioned that the editing had been upside down as it were for three segments, and that the experts noted the fifth segment had been taken at a different time or in a different place, but he thought this could be dismissed in comparison with what Channel 4 had claimed. Later, when I spoke to him outside, where he was engaged in what I assumed was journalistic communication with whoever he worked for, he informed me that it was ‘The American Institute of Technology’ [author note: this is the only institute of that name to be found, clarifications would be welcome] that had asserted the video had not been edited.

I noted that I would not embarrass the young lady from Channel 4, called Zoe Sale I believe, by asking her whether she would confirm what the young man said or accept the decision of the UN experts. She promptly said that since she was not on the Panel she would not answer questions, which I thought rather proved my point, and was precisely why I had said I did not want to embarrass her.

The young man from the Times, Tom Whipple, was equally childish, trying to insist that we answer his question as to whether he would be permitted a visa, which was precisely the type of red herring we had anticipated would be flung at us to stymie discussion of the facts our film revealed. He had started by accusing the High Commissioner of not giving him a visa, which he thought indicated that no journalists were allowed into the North, so I had to point out that we had had several journalists in but the Times had lied and distorted things repeatedly. This was also true of Channel 4, which had consistently refused to allow me a hearing, except once when they hastily changed their mind after I had pointed out their pusillanimity when I appeared on a BBC programme.

Screening of ‘Lies Agreed Upon’ – Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, at the British House of Commons on 12th October, 2011

Given the pincer movement we had seen just before the meeting in the House of Commons, in which both Channel 4 and the Times tried to attack Liam Fox particularly with regard to Sri Lanka, it was apparent that they had an agenda not very different from that of the rump of the terrorist Tigers, and that they lapped up whatever information was provided to them from those who had supported the Tigers. In such a context the nexus between them and Siobhain McDonagh and her so-called researchers, with their own wider networks, seems even more sinister.

We know that the Tigers collected enormous amounts of money, through fraud and extortion as well as donations, and that much of this was used to buy weapons, which continued to be taken to Sri Lanka even when they were supposedly engaging in negotiations. The ship that was blown up when Norwegian monitors found guns on board was only the tip of the iceberg as it were, despite which their supporters abroad continued in a state of denial.

We know that the Tiger networks still exist, and still have control of vast funds. It would be foolish to assume that these are just lying dormant. Instead they are being used to win over politicians, politicians who have no qualms about the sources from which they take money to perpetuate their own hold on power.

We know that a group of Tamils for Conservatives, set up when the LTTE backers realized that perhaps their reliance on Mr Miliband and his ilk would be fruitless, has issued barely veiled threats to Conservative MPs who were positive about Sri Lanka. We know that the BTF and its like spend enormous sums of money at British Political Party Conferences, including through donations that should be recognized for what they are, blood money.

Obviously no one wants to abide by principles if not doing so leads to personal or political advantage. But given what British politicians are belatedly discovering about the way the press operates, I hope they will take measures to ensure greater transparency about the way in which stories are sourced, the manner in which so-called investigative journalism stops short at those who fund journalists. In the process there should be investigation too of those politicians who take up causes that can also bring them profit and political advantage. And when selfish politicians and sensationalistic journalists work in tandem, with no concern for the monstrosities they may be perpetuating, the gullible youngsters they may be perverting, the suffering they might cause by allowing terrorism to rear its head again, there is need of even more vigilance.

Advertisements