Human Rights Allegations and Unfair Reports

I’m talking about the documentary which aired 14 June 2011 on Channel 4: ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’… I know it has been out there for a while now, but recent activity on social networking site Facebook has prompted me to write this.

With all due respect to Jon Snow for been so bold in highlighting these issues, I think the report could have been more unbiased and included sources from both sides. The full documentary can be watched at:

As a student of journalism I find this very disturbing. We’re expected to have integrity, check our sources and most importantly to be unbiased.

When I saw this report countering Channel 4’s report, I was extremely proud of the organisation  who produced it, for standing up for their country.

A Facebook friend wrote:

“where were your human rights when 20 millions Aborigines were killed in Australia? Or when USA sent the nuclear bombs to Hiroshima? How about when more than 100 million Indians were killed in North America? Where were the objections when 180 million Africans were taken as slaves and 88% of them died and was thrown in the Atlantic ocean? When a western country takes over a country and ruins it after raping it of it resources there is NO ONE TO OBJECT!!! But when one nation tries to protect themselves from a brutal terrorist organisation.. it’s genocide! Don’t over look the other citizens of Sri Lanka that suffered at places of worship.. while travelling by bus and train.. at their homes… we all suffered.. we were not fighting a race.. we were fighting TERRORISTS… war has casualties from every side.. before you point fingers at things that do not exist just to divert people’s attention from all the mess you create.. clean your acts.. because they are far from perfect…”

The author of the quote is obviously upset by these events like most Sri Lankans, but it is also important to note that the events referred to by her happened a long time ago and the world has moved on to be a better place with regard to human rights. We should also consider the various events where civilians were the victims of war in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle East countries in more recent times where the UN needs to question human rights violations if they are questioning the Sri Lankan issue.

It’s time we stand up and show people what our country is made of: The hunger for peace and safety, full of ambition, pregnant with natural resources and beautiful landscapes. We’re trying to put behind a past we would like to forget and move on, taking with us those who suffered more, from the North, the East, the South and the West… why can’t you?


6 thoughts on “Human Rights Allegations and Unfair Reports

  1. I am glad you wrote about this Natasha. What Channel 4 did was very unprofessional and they should be held accountable for reporting biased and distorted facts and footage from unreliable sources.
    However, I have a problem with the above comment you have quoted. I think it is irrational to compare today’s political situations and wars with history dating back a few centuries of genocide of Native Americans and Aborigines, and Black slavery. Those were acts of extreme brutality that occurred in a different time frame. I am not saying they were not wrong by human morals, they were justified by selfish economic gains and cultural beliefs of the time.
    It seems more apt to compare the Sri Lankan terrorist problem with how other countries dealt with other terrorist organisations like the al-Qaeda, and leaders that do comply with the rules and standards set by certain Western countries. This double standard is evident in the events of the recent Arab Spring, where the situations Libya and Syria were perceived very differently by Western powers: Libya was raided and the people of Syria were left to the mercy of tyrant kings, simply because that was economically favorable.

  2. What we need to understand is the journalists are human too. They are also thinking from a point of view that has shaped in their mind based on the various information, experiences and insights they have been exposed too. The more mature and astute journalists will look at each story with fresh eyes with the heart of an innocent child learning something for the first time and try to understand it without prejudice. Let’s hope Jon Snow of Channel 4 has matured due this incident and will be bold enough to tell the truth one day and contribute to the dignity of the journalism profession.

    1. Yes indeed.Truth is truth all the time.It is so rigid and powerful. Boldness is something which demands lots of courage. Fabrication could be to some extent and to a particular group. But, time will heal. The pearl of Indian ocean is day by day shining by clearing all these fraud critism.It should be to the dignity of human being too.

    2. I sure do hope he has learnt something from this backlash. But the crazy thing is, do you need to make a mistake of this enormity to mature as a journalist? And media organizations have a system of checks and balances- a piece of news, especially a documentary of this scope is never created by one man alone. Editors, deputy editors and sub editors, not to mention script writers and researchers are involved in the work. If this Jon Snow person was a lone blogger hiding in his parents basement, I could understand that the whole thing was a subjective rant gone horribly wrong. But this was a full-scale documentary aired internationally. Humans make mistakes. But news corporations CANNOT make mistakes.

  3. My comment applies for the rest of the editorial team and the news corporation as well. It is a collective error of judgement, whatever the intention may be. Corporations and individuals should not make mistakes and we should insist on the highest standards. However if they make mistakes they need to learn from them and right the wrong so that they can contribute to make the world a better place.

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