Investigations on David Miliband:
BBC dodges questions
Sri Lanka suffered from LTTE terrorism:
The following interview of Prof
Rajiva Wijesinha MP was conducted by Nik Gowing on the BBC Hub Program,
on November 24, 2010. This was well before the revelation on WikiLeaks
that Miliband had made it clear to American diplomats that electoral
considerations governed his approach to Sri Lanka
RW: Your assessment of a savage indictment suggests that you havenít
actually looked at the real figures.
J S Tissainayagam
There were several journalists murdered in the 90s as you said very
clearly. In fact it (a list) was published last week, and then a great
many were killed in the first half of this decade, for reasons which I
wonít go into but which I have explained in other writings, I donít know
why you donít actually look at those occasionally.
But the simple fact is that the press is really very free and very
critical of the government.
The Tissainayagam case that you refer to is actually particularly
interesting. I mean my Minister - I am no longer Secretary - but my
Minister actually visited him the day he was arrested, made sure that
his wife could see him, and as you know he was pardoned, and I myself
wrote at the time that we really needed to sympathize with someone who
was the victim of a lot of pressures. But the simple fact is that, as
the Indian journalist Subramaniam Swamy put it, and I quote, ĎA lot of
what he wrote was simple LTTE - pure LTTE propaganda.í Now the really
sad thing is a lot of this stuff was funded by the British Government
and (Nik keeps interrupting) look Nik, I think you really should try to
investigate what the British Government was doing on this.
NG: Let me come back at you because you said that he was pardoned,
but the fact is a journalist like Tissa was jailed for 20 years (this
was perhaps unwitting carelessness, he may have meant to say 20 months),
he was pardoned the following year.
He then - therefore - spent a year inside for being accused (again
carelessness, or sleight of hand, he was actually found guilty, and
given the minimum sentences for each charge, his lawyers failing to ask
that the sentences be concurrent) of writing things which were
politically motivated. Journalism is about freedom of expression.
RW: My dear Nik, you have to know, just as youíve said recently (in
your program), your MP (in the European Parliament) was punished for
saying things, and there are limits to freedom of expression. We in Sri
Lanka have suffered from terrorism; you guys had a Prime Minister killed
nearly 200 years ago. We have suffered (more recently), so has India.
And as I told you, the Indian journalist, this wasnít Sri Lankan,
Subramaniam Swamy described Thissanayagamís writings as pure LTTE
propaganda. He received money from the LTTE. You know Iím sorry, but you
know Miliband and his Hampstead intellectuals may think there are good
As I told you, the British Government funded Tissainayagam. I think
you should investigate that, just as the new British Government is
investigating the appalling things that happened in Uzbekhistan, when
your poor ambassador was dismissed for blowing the whistle. (Nik
interrupts) I think you should investigate why you funded Tissainayagam.
Please Nik, why doesnít the BBC look into your faults, why do you
concentrate only on ours? Please, look into what your Government did in
funding what Indians have described as pure LTTE propaganda.
Prof Rajiva Wijesinha MP
We donít like terrorists, we have suffered from them.
Nik: Let me put it to you, the BBC is always analyzing its
journalism, and that is done independently and internally. And let me
remind you that Milliband is no longer the British Foreign Secretary.
RW: Well exactly, Iím suggesting now that the present British
Government look into what he did, funding people like .....
Nik: (interrupts) The issue is about press freedom, if I may
put it to you.
RW: No, itís about freedom with limits. Terrorism is terrorism
and I donít like this business that some people in Britain, gladly I
think not the new Government, think that some terrorists are good
We had an attempt to rescue the LTTE and Iím sorry but our people
have suffered enough, Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims and we expect the same
morality from all of you (Nik interrupts)
Nik: Doctor Wijesinha, I have to stop you there. I was asking
you specifically about journalism and you have broadened the issues.
RW: Well, I told you about what this means in Sri Lanka.
Nik: (Interrupts) I have to stop the interview there in the
interests of balance
(Cuts the interview short)