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Online petition calls BBC report on Sri Lanka blasts ‘attempt to blame Sinhalese Buddhists’

The online petitioners also disapproved of BBC’s choice of commentator on the Sri Lankan blasts, and the views aired by him on the channel.

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New Delhi: Over 50,000 people have signed an online petition against a BBC report that “overtly or covertly attempted to put the blame on Sinhalese Buddhists” for the 21 April blasts in Sri Lanka that claimed the lives of over 250 people.

“From the time the bombs exploded on the 21st April the BBC reports were followed by comments which either overtly or covertly attempted to put the blame on Sinhalese Buddhists”, the petition said.

The petition was started three days ago by British citizens of Sinhalese origin from a group named Global Sri Lankan Forum United Kingdom.

The petition said, “The BBC had been following anti Sinhalese and anti Sinhalese Buddhists line for the last 25 years”, which may mislead and offer a “prejudiced view” to an audience who “does not know much about Sri Lanka”.

The petition said the BBC over the years has appeared to portray Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as if “they were innocent cubs and not the world’s most brutal terrorists”.

The petition urged BBC to “have a review of the extra-comments used when referring to Sri Lanka and attempt to be more realistic and rational”.

Also read: From Easter attacks to the uncivil war: Inaction marks Sri Lanka’s bloody history

The BBC commentator

Much of the ire the BBC received from the petitioners was also because of its choice of commentator and views aired by him. The commentator Thusiyan Nandakumar is a Tamil based in the UK and a doctor by profession.

Soon after the 21 April blasts, Nandakumar had shared a clip of his BBC interview on Twitter, in which he said it was not entirely clear who was responsible for the blasts and that “it’s possible there’s some local connection” because “Sri Lanka has a long history of violence” and “there’s been a lot of ethnic and religious tensions for decades”.

After he shared the clip, he not only got criticism, but death threats too.

“This clip of me on the BBC earlier today is going viral on Sinhala Facebook…I’m being called a ‘terrorist’ and other racist slurs because of it,” he had tweeted.

Nandakumar said in another tweet, posting screenshots of offensive messages, “my family and I have had more (7,000 + on @instagramalone) death threats.”

His support for Eelam

Nandakumar has been supportive of Eelam, which is a proposed independent state that Tamils in Sri Lanka wished to create.

In May 2009, after the Sri Lankan civil war ended, Nandakumar was quoted in a media report as saying, “With the fall of the LTTE militarily, the British government has no excuse but to act. They kept calling the Tigers ‘terrorists’, but now this is about the plight of thousands of civilians.

“…I know of a lot of people who might have been even anti-LTTE in the past, and even they are talking about taking up guns…At the same time, people can see that the armed struggle was necessary,” he had said.

Nandakumar had earlier tweeted a photo of veteran politician Tony Benn, holding a flag of Tamil Eelam.

He captioned it, saying: “5 years ago we lost Tony Benn – a veteran politician, devoted activist and staunch supporter of the Tamil struggle. My personal memory of him is from 2009, when he joined thousands of us on the streets, protesting in London, calling for a ceasefire in #SriLanka.”

The backlash

Offering another take on Nandakumar’s BBC interview, a social media user named Vikum Wijekoon wrote on, “BBC interviewer asked him this question ‘(Sri Lanka) is a religiously tolerant place usually?’ for that this person replies ‘I wouldn’t call it that. The island has a history of violence actually, you’ve seen a lot of violence by the majority Sinhala Buddhists led community against the other minorities across the island’. And, went on to subtly imply that Sinhala Buddhists are behind these attacks.”

Wijekoon also shared images from Nandakumar’s social media, indicating Nandakumar is supportive of the deceased leader and LTTE founder Velupillai Prabhakaran.

In defence of Nandakumar & BBC

Antony Dore, senior editor at BBC World News, defended Nandakumar and BBC, saying, “Thusiyan Nandakumar was one of many contributors we’ve used on this terrible, unfolding story. He was replying to a question about the political situation in Sri Lanka. Earlier he’d said no-one knows who carried out the attacks which is also what @BBCWorld has been saying all day”.

Also read: Easter massacre opens door for strongman Rajapaksa to return in Sri Lanka


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  1. The BBC and Tamil connection is nothing new. It was a shame that this LTTE sympathiser was invited to give comments about a catastrophic situation in Sri Lanka. How did he qualify for this? Any reputable organisation would have invited an ambassador, a high commissioner or an eminent catholic priest for this purpose. Nowadays it is easy to interview on Skype.
    There is enough evidence to show that this man is a pro LTTE activist. He is an NHS doctor. Having links or supporting a proscribed organisation is crime in the UK. Can someone carry the ISIS flag in the UK? This man should be reported to the General Medical Council.

  2. My father worshiped the BBC news. He said it is completely neutral. However, when I came to the UK for higher studies, I started having doubts. First the way they reported the Gulf war and then the final stages of fight against LTTE in Sri Lanka. I do not understand how this bogus LTTE sympathiser was invited to give comments about a catastrophic situation in Sri Lanka.

  3. I am someone who has been constantly complaining about racism and a Pro-Muslim bias at the BBC for many years, and I’ve been supported on this regard by most of the Non-Muslim South Asian diaspora including most of the Sri Lankan Tamil friends, but there’s always been this lobby who call themselves as representing the “Tamils” with a profoundly left-wing stance – now I am a gay second generation Sri Lankan Tamil of student age who’s can only find predominantly right-wing South Asian people, so therefore I have always wondered where these left-wing outlets (New York Times or the BBC) get these people from. The coverage of the South Asian community by the BBC is outrageous and basically factually incorrect.

    In terms of the situation in Sri Lanka, I have lived there in recent years and obviously the issue of the Civil War has been discussed – I have the somewhat upper hand of being able to speak to a wide range of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds and also mingle into the populace as a local. The majority of the Tamils and the Sinhalese get along and have no desire for war – the majority of the so-called anti-Sinhalese sentiment seems to come from the region of the Northern Province where the Tamils live alone (without Sinhalese, so how can they hate something that doesn’t exist) and also where the activist Tamil political class exerts huge propaganda efforts. It is these so-called western activist “Tamils” that need to be challenged and shamed by mainstream media – for not only trying to fuel a war that no longer exists, but also for trying to cover up more serious social conflicts such as that between the Tamils and the Muslims (or the Sinhalese and the Muslim), and for basically doing everything possible to stop political progress on proper human rights issues such as homophobia and the like. Shame of BBC! I refuse to even associate with these so-called “Tamils” and the left-wing’s support for them is shameful.

  4. There used to be an era when BBC was considered as the last word in journalism. Now no more. The UK as a country has degenerated, as it is signified by Brexit imbroglio. The British society had also degenerated, so also the standards of journalism. The UK is no longer the superpower it used to be prior to the Second World War. The slippage is happening gradually and the degeneration is now quite evident. Why should the world care what the BBC says?

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