Monday, December 10, 2007

Issue of Tamil Tiger radio station to be reexamined

Text of report headlined “DG Matsuura says ‘will re-examine the entire issue’ on UNESCO” published by Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order website on 7 December

Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, has assured Sri Lanka’s ambassador in France and delegate to the UNESCO that he will “re-examine the entire issue” on the UNESCO press release issued earlier this week regarding the attack on the Voice of Tigers (VoT) [radio] station.

The director-general gave this assurance when ambassador Chithranganee Wagiswara met him on Thursday (6 December 2007) to personally lodge Sri Lanka’s protest against the recent statement made by the director-general, in which he had “condemned” the air strike on the Voice of Tigers radio station, which has been described as a “civilian” radio station.

On the instructions of the foreign minister, ambassador Wagiswara re-asserted the Sri Lankan government’s position that the director-general’s statement must be “retracted” as the VoT is a clandestine radio station directly operated by the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam], a well- known terrorist organization, and is neither legal nor legitimate. It was also noted that VoT cannot be considered as a “civilian” radio station and that those employees at the VoT facility cannot be considered as “civilian” media personnel.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, who made a statement on this matter in parliament on Wednesday, has also brought the Sri Lanka government’s concerns on the UNESCO director-general’s statement to the attention of the UN resident coordinator in Sri Lanka, Neil Bhune. The resident coordinator maintained that he was neither consulted nor made aware of the UNESCO director-general’s statement until he saw it reported in the media. The minister reiterated Sri Lanka’s demand that the statement be retracted, and informed the UN resident coordinator that he should make known to UNESCO the actual facts on the ground relating to the activities of the VoT. The minister emphasized that the VoT was a terrorist broadcasting organization and hence was a legitimate target for attack in Sri Lanka’s fight against terrorism. The minister added that the UNESCO director-general’s statement has been broadly condemned by the government, as well as opposition parties, including the UNP [United National Party] and JVP [Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna] and has brought embarrassment to the UN system as whole in Sri Lanka.

Mr Bhune assured the minister that he would convey the minister’s sentiments to the UNESCO director-general and brief him on the matter.

(Source: Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order website in English 07 Dec 07 via BBC Monitoring/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)