This Telegraph article by Dean Nelson is bad journalism.
The UK press coverage of Sri Lanka is nonsense. This is partly Sri Lanka’s fault for limiting access. Western reporters listen to people with whatever agenda without, like, reporting. Because, frankly, they can’t. In a terrorist war the whole place became a warzone and freedom of the press has been suspended. Which sucks. However, chilling out for 15 minutes and waiting while Sri Lanka wraps up a 30 year war is an option. Or at least working harder and actually reporting. I can’t fact check the most recent poorly reported article out of the Telegraph that deeply, but it doesn’t even survive a cursory Googling.
I haven’t been to Trinco for a month and I won’t be able to go to a Batti for a week at least. There is a bunch of stuff which is very serious and cited to one anonymous source. I understand the constraints, but that is still garbage reporting. You can publish nothing instead of publishing bad, poorly sourced info. I think it’s actually more responsible.
Here are some blatantly false things which they could have fact checked with Google. And didn’t.
Another aid worker said the killings were part of a strategy to drive out the Tamils.
“Eastern province is vulnerable, there’s cleansing by the Sinhalese. There will be more problems with land grabbing. The demography changes and the Tamils who are the majority will soon become a minority,” he said.
Tamils are not a majority in the East and have not been since Independence. Right now Tamils and Muslims (Moors) are 40% and 37% respectively (Wikipedia).
A new road being constructed from Serubilla, a Sinhalese village in Trincomalee district to Polonaruwa, a Tamil village, was under construction and Sinhalese families were being settled on either side of the road as it snakes further north-east.
I can’t find detailed demographics on Polonnaruwa, but it’s, er, not a Tamil city to the best of my knowledge. Since, like, the Chola dynasty, in like 1070. The Polonnaruwa District is about 2% Tamil according to admittedly old census data (statistics.gov.lk PDF). Populations often have more minority pop (Hambantota town is mostly Muslim, for example). But I don’t think one could reasonably call Polonnaruwa a Tamil village. I think it’s neither Tamil nor a village.
Beyond that there are other accusations which I could fact check if I was out there.
Many Tamils sold their homes and land at below-market prices after members of their families had been killed or had disappeared, he said…
“Thousands of Sinhalese are coming in, getting government land and government assistance from the south. It’s causing huge tensions,” he said.
He and others fear this model will now be applied to the north where the final army onslaught to defeat the Tamil Tigers left 95 per cent of the buildings demolished or heavily damaged.
Well, to start, property records can be checked. It’s boring, but if you make phone calls and visit offices you can find these things. Second, if thousands of Sinhalese are coming in you can find out where, get in the car and go see if there are indeed settlements. If a source tells you this they can presumably tell you town. Then you can go to that town and ask a local trishaw driver if he noticed thousands of Sinhalese moving in. Finally, the LTTE hasn’t allowed a proper census in its areas for years, so I’m curious as to one got a count of buildings, but a stat with single digit accuracy presumably has a source, which one could site.
The article also has accusations of ethnic cleansing and killing which I believe should be followed up seriously. However, the rest of the reporting is so shoddy that it calls the broader conclusions into question. Reporting does not consist of hearing stuff from anonymous sources and publishing it without even a cursory fact checking. Seriously, I just looked this stuff up Google. Sri Lanka needs better reporting for sure, but shame on the Telegraph. I understand that your job is hard right now, but sometimes journalists just have to work harder. For future articles, try this link for some of the quotes you get.
This post references an article in the telegraph.co.uk called Sri Lanka accused of ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Tamil areas, written by Dean Nelson. I believe it is bad journalism because it has very serious accusations and one named source and what appears to be zero research or reporting. I’m leaving this post in the ‘comment form‘ because they don’t seem to allow public comments on their articles. If you’d like to leave a comment cool but try not to act all crazy cause reason is actually on our side.