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Strong but measured words: Dilrukshi Handunetti reports on Menik Farm

September 30, 2012

How do you write about something where there’s clearly a victim and a source of wrong doing, without taking sides and framing the story rhetorically? I often wonder as I read critical writing, why it is almost always writing that criticises, bitterly, even vehemently. Surely, if the person laid out all the facts or all that they saw before me, I would reach that same conclusion without the help of emotional annotations.

I read this piece by Dilrukshi Handunetti and it made me very sad–as may have been intended. But that happened without any extra cues from the author.

I thought it worthy of posting here because I liked that it gave me the room to come to my own conclusions. And from the point of view of peacebuilding, I thought its temperate tone allowed all sides to engage with it easily. The door is open for the conversations to continue. To me that’s journalism that contributes to peace.

The author does comment critically  on the accounts now available about the war:

“The war’s accounts were compiled mostly by biassed, pro-government voices. Access was allowed not to those committed to professional journalism, but the embedded kind. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had their share of embedded journalists and the military cum government had theirs. Between these two groups, the country has ended up with utterly biased accounts with facts and figures not even the State agencies could agree with.

The story of resettlement is the same. Statistics are released, but with little explanation. The process is carefully concealed. Access is only through the Ministry of Defence and one has to be entirely lucky to be granted access, despite IDPs having all been resettled…

We continue to record false history, each step being heavily controlled by the long arm of militarization.”

Strong words, but measured when you read them in their context in the article. That’s good peace journalism, in my view.

Dilrukshi Handunetti, Closed and not accessible, Ceylon Today, September 30, 2012.

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