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Channel 4 video : a figment of imagination:

Balachandran, marketable product

Why was Channel 4 silent when hundreds of children were butchered by the LTTE?:


The Aranthalawa Massacre

A death of a child, no doubt is a reason to mourn. Especially when he or she is brutally killed, it is a grave crime which has to be dealt with severely. The disturbing image of a bullet-ridden body of a boy telecast in the latest controversial Channel 4 video has caused a certain amount of anxiety to many.

In the video - Sri Lanka's killing fields: war crimes unpunished - a 12-year-old boy with five bullet holes in his chest can be seen and the presenter, Jon Snow says that the boy is Balachandran Prabhakaran, youngest son of LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. The director is Callum Macrae, a former reporter at Channel 4, now turned director.

For many, who have viewed Channel 4's previous videos, this is heart-rending as a body of a teenage boy is shown. The video 'accuses' the Security Forces of executing the boy with five others, who were identified as 'bodyguards' of the teenager.

It is good to highlight the killing of a child in a video, but 'Channel 4' has a 'reputation' of releasing concocted videos and has well and truly missed incidents where thousands of little children including new-born babies were killed in cold blood. The video shows that the so-called investigators of Channel 4 have not done their homework and are not aware of the ground realities in the North.

The history of the ruthless LTTE is full of such gruesome killings where children, despite their ethnicity were chopped, smashed and bombed. This article is an attempt not to justify the story of the boy shown in the video, but to remind Channel 4 that thousands of Sri Lankan children, who perished even before they blossomed into their teens, are waiting for justice from Channel 4 to air similar videos of their stories which also need to be heard.

The LTTE massacre of innocent Sinhala villagers to ethnically cleanse the North started way back in 1984 with the attack of two farming villages at Kent Farm and Dollar Farm in Mullaitivu.

LTTE terrorists made a killing field of these two villages and armed LTTE terrorists chopped, gunned down and smashed 33 villagers, the majority of whome were children and women at these two farms.

It was the LTTE's second attack on a Sinhala village - Kent Farm, where there killed 29 civilians, including women and children.

On August 3, 1990, the LTTE killed over 147 Muslim men and boys out of a crowd of over 300 people who were prostrating for 'Isha' prayers in the Meer Jumma, Husseinia, Majid-Jul-Noor and Fowzie Mosques in Kattankudi, a Muslim town 140 miles east of Colombo, in Batticaloa.

According to an eye-witness account quoted in the New York Times, heavily-armed terrorists didn't spare small boys who were kneeling down and praying and the firing lasted for over 15 minutes.


The Kebethigollawa Massacre

Mohammed Arif, a 17-year-old student who survived the massacre said: "Before I escaped from a side door and scaled a wall, I saw a Tiger rebel put a gun into the mouth of a small Muslim boy and pull the trigger."

It was June 15, 2006 that the LTTE killed 64 innocent civilians including 15 children in twin claymore mines bus attack in a jam-packed bus plying to Kebithigollewa. The victims, who were from the Sinhala villages of Yakawewa, Halmillewa, Kanugahawewa, Thalgahawewa and Nikawewa, most of them were attending the Kebithigollewa Hospital children's clinic.

The Aranthalawa Massacre, where 33 Buddhist Monks, most of them young novice monks, were gunned down and is considered one of the most gruesome killings committed by the LTTE. The massacre took place on June 2, 1987, when a bus carrying Buddhist monks and a few unarmed civilians, were on a pilgrimage from their temple in Mahavapi to the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara. The terrorists ordered the driver to get the bus into the nearby Aranthalawa jungle. After the bus stopped, the LTTE cadres went on a rampage, attacking the monks with guns and swords and also shooting some of them with machine guns.

Among the dead were 30 young novice monks and their mentor, the Chief Priest of the Vidyananda Maha Pirivena, Hegoda Sri Indrasara Thera.

The Anuradhapura massacre in 1985 was the largest massacre, where LTTE cadres opened fire indiscriminately with automatic weapons killing and wounding many civilians who were waiting for public transport. LTTE cadres then drove to the Buddhist Sri Maha Bodhi shrine and gunned down nuns, monks and civilians as they prayed inside the Buddhist shrine. Before they withdrew, the LTTE strike force entered the national park of Wilpattu and killed 18 Sinhalese in the forest reserve. The LTTE cadres massacred 146 Sinhalese men, women and children in Anuradhapura.

Among the list of attacks by the LTTE the last incident, before its annihilation, took place on April, 12, 2009, two days before the Sinhala and Hindu New Year. LTTE terrorists stormed into village at around 7.30 pm and killed nine Sinhalese including a one-and-a-half-year-old infant and an 11-year-old boy.

Eye-witness accounts in the video - Ruthless - released by the Government is a fine forum where people willingly gave their first-hand accounts on atrocities committed by the ruthless LTTE against humanity.

Unaware of the fate which would befall them within the next few minutes, several dozens of wounded Tigers, including forcibly conscripted children, brought from a makeshift medical facility in a Rosa bus, were helplessly gasping for life. Another group of Tigers, who were guarding another bus load of wounded youth a few metres away, was impatiently waiting for the final nod from their superior, to finish off their task. Their intention was to get rid of the 'burden' and also not to leave any room for the wounded to be interrogated in the event of their capture.

While those who fought unwillingly to make the dream of their megalomaniac leader a reality, were struggling to breathe, the Tigers hurriedly strapped explosives around the buses. In the next minute, everything disappeared under heavy black smoke, triggered by the thundering explosion.

The two badly damaged buses lay between Vellamullivaikkal and Wadduvakkal, a grim reminder of the gravity of the final battle fought against the LTTE in May, 2009.

Thiruchelvam Vardarasa from Wattappalai was an eye-witness to a mass murder that had been intended to remain hidden forever. "The LTTE brought a bus full of wounded boys, girls and elders who had been forcibly thrown into battlefronts. Then the bus was exploded with the people inside under the instructions of leader Nedumaran. I witnessed this with my own eyes", Vardarasa, who was temporarily accommodated 200 metres away from the location, said.

It was on May 17, 2009, in the wee hours, that the above described mass murder took place while the soldiers were pushing the terrorists into their last tiny patch of land on the edge of Mullaitivu. Two days before the LTTE's annihilation in the waters of the Nandikadal Lagoon, the LTTE leader instructed his subordinates to destroy their battle casualties, who had been ill-trained and conscripted to fight the advancing military might. Ruthless LTTE cadres loaded disabled and wounded cadres into a bus from the makeshift hospital and exploded the buses, not leaving a trace!

Child conscription

Three victims of child conscription narrated the incident at the church where the LTTE forcefully took them away. Nimalan: "My parents used to hide me in a bunker which was well concealed inside the house. Fearing my abduction, my father sent me to the church and he said the LTTE would not abduct children from the church. But I was there only a day, the LTTE stormed the place and abducted the children. Girls and boys ran hither and thither inside the church while the LTTE started shooting us. Pieces of roof fell on the ground. The LTTE left only one door open and they pulled out the children - one by one. A woman was shot at as she was obstructing the LTTE from taking her child away. I too was thrown into the vehicle".

Vignesh: "We went to the church that day, but I could go only 50 metres and I started running home as I heard the LTTE firing inside the church. I hid myself and later heard that the LTTE had taken all the children away. When I went to the church later, I only saw women crying and cursing the LTTE for abducting their children".

Bala was another child who was snatched away by the LTTE while he was at the church along with many other children. "We were confident that the LTTE would not enter the church and that they would listen to the priest. But it didn't quite happen that way. They abducted many children and I was among them. The LTTE took me to Mullivaikkal to fight".

Channel 4 which brought up the issue of a death of the 12-year-old boy is now saddle with a bigger responsibility - to produce videos to show the gruesome killings of thousands of children like 'Balachandran' by the LTTE terrorists.

How can Channel 4, which boast of engaging in responsible journalism, miss the heinous crimes committed by the LTTE? and what is the cover-up Channel4 has for those innocent Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim children who were executed by the LTTE for over three decades?

The video in question shows the images of those dressed in combat uniform and wearing slippers at the scene, where 'Balachandran' and four elderly people were gunned down. In this video clip where the faces of the soldiers were not shown, Channel 4 concludes that the execution was carried out by Sri Lankan soldiers. The forensic pathologist, Professor Derrick Pounder, identifies the gunshot injuries on the boy's body being a result of close-range shooting.

Channel 4, which claims that 'Balachandran' was executed after interrogating him about his father's whereabout, lacks the knowledge of ground realities in the North during the final months of the battle. It is unaware of the hatreds of Northern civilians, who struggled against conscripting their small children, with the LTTE and its leadership. According to ex-LTTE cadres, the LTTE leaders had to hide their children from the public as civilians protested against them for safeguarding their children while the LTTE leaders ordering to conscript innocent children to fight.

One such child who was given a strong protection ring was Prabhakaran's son - Balachandran. This is evident even in the Channel 4 documentary where it shows that the boy was killed with five of the LTTE bodyguards.

Even now, after rehabilitating over 11,600 ex-LTTE cadres the Government faces the problem of reintegrating them into society as some families in the Northern villages are not willing to welcome them as they had forcibly snatched away their children, most of them breathed their last in deadly battlefields in 2009. The families of some of the LTTE leaders had to hide themselves while they were in welfare centres in Vavuniya as civilians hated them and threatened to kill them for the atrocities they had committed against their people in the North.

Not only Northern civilians but also LTTE cadres selves criticised LTTE leaders as sisters and brothers of LTTE cadres were conscripted during the final months of the end battle.

They were up in arms against the LTTE for deviating from its own policy, which only recruited one member from each family.

"As I need to save the lives of my brother and sister I joined the LTTE and fought until I surrendered to the Army on May 1, but the LTTE police had taken away my 13-year-old sister and without any weapons training she was sent to fight with other cadres.

They have also taken my older brother and he died in the battlefield. My small sister who had not hold a gun in her life was found dead later and I had to bury her in Puthumathalan before my surrender.

Many families in my village lost their small children", said the ex-LTTE cadre Raju.

He said they assaulted and killed one LTTE policeman who helped civilians, whom they kept as hostages to flee the government controlled areas.

He said civilians whose lives were reduced to zero came to Government controlled areas and cursed Prabhakaran and his family for destroying their lives.

Channel 4 and the pro-LTTE fronts are still trying to give a fresh breathe of life to the defunct LTTE and have forgotten how the Security Forces saved family members of the leaders - Soosai and Thamilselvan and many other prominent LTTE cadres facilitating their children to have their education in some of the leading schools in Colombo, which is a distant dream for many.

In this scenario, what is the assurance that civilians, who sometime did not spare ordinary LTTE cadres, would not kill the family of the LTTE leader, who tainted their future with blood for over 30 long years.

Though the world is talking about this 12-year-old boy, how many boys and girls of his age were killed on the orders of Prabhakaran.

The best example was the schoolgirl who was sent by the LTTE to blow herself to prevent civilians flee the LTTE control. There are hundreds of such incidents where the LTTE used small children in their crimes.

If the soldiers intended to kill family members of the LTTE hierarchy, why did they bring families of Sea Tiger leader Soosai and leader of its Political Wing S.P. Thamilselvan safely to Colombo and then the Government has even taken steps to secure their future. How has Channel 4 slipped up on this positive story in their videos?

How ethical is it for Channel 4 to throw allegations of killing Balachandran on government forces which maintain hundred percent discipline throughout its humanitarian operation and rescued over 300,000 Tamils from LTTE terror?

With no source to identify the boy as being LTTE leader Prabhakaran's son, Channel 4 refers to the victim as Prabhakaran's son. Prabhakaran's son lived comfortably.

It is true that it is heart-rending when a child is killed, whoever he might be. Those who are aware of the reality on how the LTTE played with the lives of innocent children whom they used as suicide bombers and also as ill-trained fighters, accuse Channel 4 for weaving a story around a terrorist, forgetting the thousands of small children who were butchered by the LTTE.

Yes, when they produce a video about Prabhakaran's son, there is a 'market value' which the world will talk about. Here, Channel 4 has given market value to 'Balachandran' to achieve their ulterior motives, roused by pro-LTTE fronts to attack the Government at the UN Human Rights Sessions. Human Rights activists will now clamour for action against the alleged execution shown in the video, but in turn people will question about their silence over heaps of incidents where innocent Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim children were butchered to death.It is apparently a 'fine' initiative of Channel 4 to telecast images of body of Balachandran.

The world would give their blessings to the TV team if they aired the stories of thousands of other children who are in their graves waiting for justice - at least an opportunity for them through Channel 4 to tell the world how brutally they were hacked to death by the world's ruthless terrorists.

Unfortunately, Channel 4 has missed out on these sad stories as these innocent children are not marketable like Prabhakaran's son but are the sons and daughters of Sirisena or Murugesu or Hakeem, who are just ordinary civilians who had many dreams for their children, any less important?

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