Archive for November 17, 2013


May 1st, 2009, I interviewed Tamil demonstrators at a rally outside ABC headquarters, East Perth…Many people were extremely concerned and visibly upset about the plight of those surviving relatives and friends who were trapped in a brutal nightmare…the killing fields of the Vanni region of north eastern Sri Lanka…

…we were about to go to press with a report from behind the lines in Vanni by David Gray of Reuters …”I managed to get a few ‘usable’ frames of a scorched and destroyed landscape. Every single dwelling was either destroyed or uninhabitable. It reminded me of East Timor in 1999. Burnt out vehicles lined the road….”

…here are a few Tamil perspectives from the demo that resonate still…

“To understand the ground situation (in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka), where there are no independent observers or media allowed by the Government, it is vital to understand the motive behind the Sri Lankan onslaught on the Tamil civilians. The meticulously planned disenfranchisement of the Tamils has been going on since independence from the British in 1948. The Tamil Tigers are an outcome of this long deprivation of basic rights to exist as equal citizens in Sri Lanka…”

“Sri Lanka – don’t kill the media. Sri Lanka – don’t bomb the hospitals. Sri Lanka – stop the genocide of Tamils.”

“Anyone really concerned about humanity and freedom should impress upon both parties for an immediate ceasefire, send in independent observers and media, provide international protection to the refugees and  bring a permanent peace solution.”

Around this time, UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) put out an urgent appeal:

Sri Lanka: 250,000 People In War Zone Need Food

 

excerpt…

“…I had been to the front line of a war in an area that is extremely difficult to reach and come back to civilization. I was exhausted and dripping with sweat, but what about the people trapped in the war zone? They didn’t get to fly back to the comforts of a city. They continued to endure the horrors of war in dire conditions and horrendous temperatures, with minimal food, water, medical aid or even shelter. What about those who got out, but had a long journey to a refugee camp ahead of them, with no clear idea when they can go back home. It reminded me of a book I finished reading a few months ago called ‘Dispatches’ by Michael Herr about his experiences as a correspondent during the Vietnam war, and how he found it strange flying in and out of war zones. I could see what he had meant a little more clearly now – just the craziness of it all.”

clickonthrough for piece in full @ reuters.com

 

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