Sri Lanka: When All Is Lost, Spin The Media


May 15, 2009: Every day, troops and LTTE gunmen fire on each other. But the most effective operation for the LTTE are daily press releases for the world media. A major feature of the fighting, at least according to the LTTE, has been attacks on Tamil civilians in the two square kilometer no-fire zone along a beach in northeastern Sri Lanka. The LTTE blame the army, and the army points out that they have no need to fire on civilians, and have not done so. The army insists that the LTTE is firing on its own civilians, in a desperate attempt to generate support among foreign governments and media, to force the Sri Lankan government to agree to cease fire, that would allow the LTTE to reorganize and rebuild before resuming their campaign to partition the island. The LTTE have been playing the media for years, and know what to say. Baseless accusations will be accepted by journalists if you frame them the right way. The government has learned not trust journalists at all, and banned them from the combat zone. NGOs, like the UN, operate like the media, choosing to back the version of reality that best served their interests. Thus the UN believed most atrocity claims and kept calling for a ceasefire. Naturally, the government saw the UN as LTTE allies, and treated them accordingly.

The army has been maneuvering to provide safe (from LTTE fire) zones so that Tamil civilians could escape from LTTE control. Over 5,000 civilians have escaped like this in the last few days. But the army is also constantly advancing. A few meters here, and a few meters there every day. The army believes that the no-fire zone will be gone in days, not weeks. In response, the LTTE has been launching suicide attacks on land and at sea. But the army and navy is used to this, and ready to foil these attacks.

May 10, 2009: The army fought for several hours to capture an LTTE trench line, along with 35 LTTE bodies. An excavator vehicle (used to help dig trench lines)  was also captured, along with 40 assault rifles and machine-guns.

May 8, 2009: The no-fire zone has shrunk to 2.5 square kilometers, where a few hundred LTTE gunmen hide among 20,000 Tamil civilian prisoners.


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