BBC ‘supporting Tamil terrorists’ - protest

[TamilNet, Monday, 15 May 2006, 12:37 GMT]
An estimated two hundred Sinhala expatriates demonstrated outside BBC headquarters in London Monday, protesting what they described as the organisation’s bias towards the Liberation Tigers. The protest, organised by a hitherto unknown group, Sri Lankans Against Terrorism (SLAT), drew together members of other Sinhala organisations and, in defiance of President Mahinda Rajapakse’s instructions, members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) also.

Sinhala protest against BBC.
Holding Lion flags as well as several signs and a large banner denouncing the BBC for ‘supporting terrorism,’ the demonstrators chanted slogans against the organisation and handed out leaflets stating their protest.

‘BBC, Stop Supporting Terrorism in Sri Lanka,’ a large banner said. Other signs denounced the BBC as ‘an instrument of colonialism.’

Whilst protests against the BBC’s Sinhala service, Sandeshaya, have taken place before, Tuesday’s protest was directed against the Corporation as a whole.

The protest, according to BBC insiders, was triggered by the Corporation’s reporting that over 43,000 people had been displaced by the Sri Lankan military’s bombardment of the Muttur area of Trincomalee in late April.

The protestors, echoing challenges by the Sri Lankan government, claim the actual number was far fewer and it was the BBC’s inherent bias that had led to the number reported.

However BBC reporters showed TamilNet a copy of an official report by the Government Agent (Trincomalee), Mr. M. A. M. Niyas which provides the breakdown of displaced area by area, which adds up to 43,158 people.

Members of the Patriotic National Movement (PNM), affiliated to the Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP), joined the SLAT protest.

Sinhala protest against BBC.
Sinhala protest against BBC

And defying instructions said to have been issued by President Mahinda Rajapakse to members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Rani Bulathwella, its London organiser, joined the protest holding a banner mocking the BBC as ‘Bias Brainwashing Corporation.’

A leaflet distributed by the protestors said: “Sri Lanka’s efforts to eradicate terrorism has been hampered by a number of factors. The main among these has been the inability of the West to understand the actual situation. For this the BBC is considerably to blame.”

“Many of its reports have even been sympathetic to the Tamil terrorists while others have distorted the facts about the Sri Lankan situation.”

“In Sri Lanka, the LTTE Tamils (sic) have been engaged in a 23-year terrorism (sic) in which they have brutally murdered more than 68,000 people, most of them indigenous majority Sinhalese, but also including Muslims, as well as Tamils,” the leaflet said.

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