Sri Lanka rewards loyal Sinhala journalist
[TamilNet, Friday, 01 August 1997, 23:59 GMT]
After years of supporting the Sri Lankan government's propaganda by using his position as a reporter for the Reuters News agency, Mr. Mohan Samarasinghe has been formally employed by the Colombo regime. Mr. Samarasinghe is to join the Sri Lankan diplomatic mission in Canada.
A few weeks ago, the Sri Lankan state media said that five 'communication
experts' were being appointed to Sri Lankan missions as 'Counsellor
(Information)'. Apart from Canada, the other capitals to receive
propaganda activists are London, Ottawa, Stockholm, New Delhi and Bangkok.
According to the state run Daily News, these officers "will engage in
projecting a positive image of Sri Lanka from their respective stations
and endeavour to correct any misperceptions entertained in some quarters
in these countries".
In practice, one of the tasks this will entail is playing down the Sri
Lanka's atrocious human rights record. Despite a successful public
relations exercise in 1995 and an orchestrated campaign to dupe the human
rights organisations by setting up official human rights bodies, the
Sinhalese government's human rights record is causing increasing
Another item on the propagandists' task list is to, promote the
government's view of the war between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. For
the past two years, the Sri Lankans have been predicting that the end of the
war was only months away. The international community's initial belief in
these claims has given way to skepticism, as the Tigers have scored
several military victories against the Sri Lankans.
The Sri Lankan government's ban on the press has helped to conceal the
horrors it is inflicting on the Tamil people, and the government's initial
claim that the censorship was needed for 'tactical reasons' has worn
thin, with many foreign governments and NGOs urging the lifting of the
Mr. Samarasinghe has worked actively over the past few years to promote
the Sri Lankan government's image through his position as a correspondent
with the Reuters news Agency. By taking Sri Lankan government claims and
reporting these without fail, while ignoring the LTTE's statements, Mr.
Samarasinghe did his best to ensure that the world media had access only
to the Sri Lankan government's version of events in the reports he filed
As his role was being mirrored by Sinhalese journalists with the other
major agencies operating out of Colombo, he was quite successful in
manipulating the coverage of events on the island.