What more do you want?

The headline of this BBC news story reads, “Sri Lanka leader hails ‘victory'” The same headline, along with the first few lines of this story, also appears as top story on the main BBC news page today.

What’s with the scare quotes round “victory”? I can go with the quotes round “liberated” a few lines later. That’s a matter of opinion. But it is a fact, not an opinion, that the Sri Lankan government has won a victory over the Tamil Tigers. The BBC itself writes that the Tigers are “finished as a conventional military force”. The Tigers’ leader is dead. They hold no territory. They have surrendered.

This is starting to sound like the Dead Parrot sketch. But do you get my point here, Beebfolk? Even if the Tigers were to stage a comeback, this, today, is still a victory. Or are you trying to convey that, “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers,” as Neville Chamberlain put it in 1938?

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25 Responses to What more do you want?

  1. Mango says:

    I'm more saddened than disgusted by this. The BBC used to be the Gold Standard for news and had a fantastic reputation in Sri Lanka. If the Beeb had declared that water ran uphill, no-one would've questioned it.

    How low have they sunk to come to this when by any objective measurement, this victory (i.e. crushing annihilation of the opposing side's forces) is now placed in quotations. Yet they happily used unverifiable and patently made-up 'news' from Tamilnet without attribution.

    I wonder what sort of bizarre world they (BBC reporters, writers & news policy heads) inhabit? Can they ever return to simply reporting objectively verifiable facts?

    p.s. I’d suggest that the satire site, http://www.tamilnet.tv is more reliable than the Beeb for an accurate grasp of the SL situation.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Black knight!


  3. Mango says:

    Re., Black Knight, I raise you with Hudson from Aliens.



  4. d says:

    The BBC uses quotation marks quite freely, they are standard BBC device used to discredit or devalue statements which it does not agrre with. If the conservative make a pronouncement it is put in quotation marks and accompanied by “Tories Claim” the word “claim” devalues it further. Unsurprisingly, Labour make far fewer claims and generally just make unchallenged statements which are not put in quotaion marks by the BBC.


  5. max says:

    They’re more sinister than that. Mitigating evil (or is it ‘evil’?) is a matter of habit at the BBC.


  6. sue says:

    The BBC’s reluctance to admit that a victory has been won by military means relates to the stance they have taken over I/P. No doubt they’re hedging their bets, perhaps hoping for a resurgence by the Tigers to bolster their case that what terrorists really need is to be appeased.
    Melanie P sets out the hypocrisy of the media over these issues here.


  7. Lee Moore says:

    It’s worth comparing the BBC’s Sri Lanka coverage with their coverage of the collapse of UNITA in Angola, and the death of Savimbi.


    It’s pretty obvious that in Beeb eyes the death of Savimbi and the ending of that civil conflict were a “good thing” and that Savimbi had been the cause of thousands of death in a hopeless and unworthy cause.

    One does not get quite the same impression of the collapse of the Tamil Tigers and the death of their leader.


  8. David Preiser says:

    I was going to say “Alright, we’ll call it a draw,” but an Anonymous above beat me to the reference.

    In any case, Natalie, you should realize that the word “victory” has emotional connotations, and so falls under the same whimsical Beeboid rules as “terrorism”.


  9. Ironside says:

    Just watching the 6pm BBC London News and they’re saying that the Tamil protest which have been running for 43 days and has cost the Met £8million and resulted in 25 injuries to Police officers. The coverage was very sympathetic…towards the protesters.

    The BBC didn’t cover the protest that occured outside White City TV Centre which preceeded the current Parliament square protests at all.

    Personally though, I’d like to see these Tamils sent home, but that’s a different story.


  10. Grant says:

    BBC news at described Prabhakaran as the “Rebel Leader”. Don’t suppose the BBC really accepts that he is dead yet.


  11. Anonymous says:

    i loved this bit

    “Neither sides’ claims have been independently verified because reporters are not allowed into the former conflict zone.”

    from what i understand the bbc’s thinking is that nothing is “true” and there are no “facts” until the bbc say so. this is arrogance beyond belief.

    so what are the bbc going to do to establish the facts? is damian grammaticus going to take a DNA mouth swab? and then go to Prabhakaran’s mum’s house to double check ?

    i just checked the bbc website to see that when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed the bbc just accepted the US military claims that he was dead based upon fingerprint evidence seen by … the US military.

    i can only assume that due to latent racism the bbc will not accept the word of the sri lankan democratically elected government when they state that Prabhakaran is dead.


  12. Anonymous says:

    Re: Angola.
    Well, yes, quite so. Savimbi was supported by the United States and South Africa, and was opposed to the MPLA who were armed and supported by the BBC’s pals, the Cubans.


  13. George R says:



    "Protestors flaunt flag of suicide bombers in Parliament Square as 7/7 families gather to read ISC report"

    [Full comment]:

    "Arriving in Westminster this morning to read the Intelligence & Security Committee's report into the July 7 bombings, we were greeted by the sight of protestors flying the red flag of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
    The Tamils do, of course, have the right to demonstrate but in the wake of the furore over the G20 protests they seem to be flaunting that right – frequently blocking the roads for hours – while the police keep at a distance.
    What was particularly offensive about the demo today was that several survivors of 7/7 and relatives of those who died in the 2005 attacks would have passed by on their way to read the ISC document. The Tamil Tigers were the pioneers of suicide bombing among modern terrorist groups and are a proscribed organisation in this country."


  14. Anonymous says:

    Ironside, in the unlikely event that Hamas overcomes Israel I trust you would like to see tiresome Jewish protesters sent home too.

    You wouldnt want to be seen as advocating double standards would you.


  15. Anonymous says:

    Anon – i can only assume that due to latent racism the bbc will not accept the word of the sri lankan democratically elected governmentThere is the problem that overwhelmingly the govt represents the Sinhalese majority. Its the standard multicultural story – if political divides reflect ethnic/religious divides then the system is f***ed, end of.

    You, no doubt, will be quite happy when the UK is 51% Muslim. They will have their Respect government (or whatever), we will vote for a losing minority party and that will be that. After all it will be the democratically elected govt. Whats that you say? It discriminates against the white minority? Talk to the hand pal, its a democratically elected govt, the majority voted for it.

    I presume for you the fact that the majority just happen to belong to one ethnic group and the minority just happen to belong to another ethnic group is a trivial and irrelevant detail.

    Anyhow, this phase of the war is over, no doubt it will start all over again in a slightly different style.

    The obvious solution for Sri Lanka would be to partition the island. Better still; not to have created a multi-ethnic state in the first place.


  16. Anonymous says:


    Sinhalese make up 80% of the population, tell me again who is going to “dominate” the Government then?

    FYI: Tamils make up 10-12% of the population, and since Independence Tamils have held high positions in the cabinet. In the late 1970s a Tamil, Amirthalingam from his race based Tamil ONLY party (TULF) was leader of the opposition.

    Same Amirthalingam told Tamil youth to launch the fight for a separate state (in 1980 he even got Prabakaran released from jail much to the fury of the then IGP who resigned over the matter).

    Amirthalingams words:

    ”Tunku Abdul Rahman had the statesmanship to allow Singapore to secede from Malaysia peacefully. But the Sri Lankan rulers do not have that wisdom. I stand on this stage without fear and state that Tamil Eelam will be born only through violent struggle and bloodshed. We are ready for the _bloody_ struggle”- Amirthalingum at TULF victory meeting at the Ramakrishna Hall, Wellawatte (1977)Wellawatte is a rich Tamil suburb of Colombo filled with mansions. This guy declared war from within the Capital of the nation he was about to fight (where he was also a member of its Parliament holding a top position as Leader of the opposition).

    But nothing beats his wife who proclaimed with glee on the same platform while drunk on the glories of the up and coming Tamil state ideology and bloodshed to achieve it: “we shall make a shoes and slippers from the skins of the Sinhalese”.

    Of course Tamils have always complained of "discrimination"

    What they mean by that is the loss of the unfair racist privileges they had during Colonialism.After Independence they were no longer favoured & buttressed into high positions just for being Tamil.They already have equal rights, what they want is superior rights again i.e. to be MORE EQUAL.
    They could not stomach the idea of being put on an equal level with those they view as inferior (the Sinhalese and the other minority communities) and to them.

    The Tamils launched their armed struggle in 1976, when they created their Vaddukkoddai Resolution which was a declaration of war on the Sinhalese. It stated:

    And this Convention calls upon the Tamil Nation in general and
    the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves
    fully in the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the
    goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached
    This was endorsed by Amirthalingam the Tamil leader who would then make is speech in 1977 (see above). Incidentally his pet Tiger who he once bailed out of jail by abusing the political powers given by the state and people we planned to eradicated
    executed him a decade later.


  17. Anonymous says:

    Anyway, since the corner stone of the Tamil argument and justification for war, a separate state, suicide bombing and seeking refugee in Western countries is the claim of "discrimination" (now "genocide") since 1948 lets have a look at this discrimination:

    SL Tamils were around 12% of the Sri Lankan population in 1982-1983

    In 1981 (the last proper statistic done) 30% of all professional jobs and 30% of all government jobs were with the Tamil minority (specifically the Jaffna Tamils).

    In 1981
    25% of those entering University for Medical studies were Tamils.
    24% of those entering University for Dentistry were Tamils.
    40% of those entering University for Veterinary Science.

    Two of the countries universities were (still are) dedicated for Tamils, i.e. 95% of Students to Jaffna University and 90% to the Eastern University were Tamils

    In 1974 the handful of Sinhala students and faculty members at Jaffna University were attacked by Tamil students and chased away –there safety guaranteed only when the police arrived to escort them out (genocide anyone?). In August 2008 similar thing happened to Sinhala students in the Eastern University with them being threatened and student leader Sucharitha Pahan Samarasinghe murdered for being in a Tamil "only" area and Tamil "only" university.

    Sri Lanka Census of 1981 dealing with the % of Tamils in the professions (12 % of Sri Lanka's population in 1981 were Tamil):

    Physicians & Surgeons, 35.1%

    Dentists, 24.7%

    Veterinarians, 38.8%

    Engineers, 34.9%

    Land surveyors, 29.9%

    Engineering technicians, 24.3%

    Survey draughtsmen, 27.8%

    Public Sector Administrators, 15.9%

    Thats "discrimination" for you

    Reality is the Tamil minority was trying to subjugate the majority, that’s what their “freedom fight” was about, to restore the racists Colonial system, which is why it ended up as the nightmare you see it –you can’t “free” people who are not oppressed.

    Add to that they are not really much of a minority either considering there are 70 million Tamils just 15 nautical miles away in India with a state named after them that is culturally, linguistically, religiously identical (you take one from SL and put them there you will not know the difference unless its tattooed on their foreheads) and is also the source of the bulk of the Tamils in SL (who just finished failing in their bloody campaign) from where Europeans had imported them to SL in the first place (primarily as indentured labourers and a military force to crush Sinhalese with).


  18. Anonymous says:

    Now the civil war in Sri Lanka is over – how about returning all the Tamils who claimed asylum in Britain ? Starting with lots of people from Parliament Square.


  19. Anonymous says:

    Wow, BBC is just as disappointed as the Tamils that their beloved “rebel” is dead.

    They won’t accept it until TamilNet propaganda site (oh so reliable) says so.

    What a joke


    On the side bar it says: “Sri Lankans celebrate ‘victory’ “

    That just gives a vile sense of mocking. As Janaka said in an earlier post, for the Sri Lankans this is the end of 30 years of continual violence, is it not a victory? Guess BBC is unhappy about that, must be missing all suicide bombing already.


  20. Peter says:

    When it comes to less than startling bastions of warrior nobility, especially when they are in decline, some media coverage minds me of the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail…

    ‘..it’s just a nick, I’m sure he can get a suicide belt on a pregnant teen again soon!’.


  21. Anonymous says:

    Re Tamils and their economic success.

    Thats why we imported them into Sri Lanka. The locals were regarded as inferior workers.

    Discrimination is secondary as a casus beli. Its the multiethnic population thats the problem.

    The Tamils have had suicide bombers for years. You think they could motivate a load of comfortable middle-class dentists to go and blow up themselves up because of what…what exactly?

    Btw, anyone on this thread who is Sri Lankan ought to identify themselves before commenting.


  22. Mango says:

    Just a quick pedantic point. The locals weren't 'inferior' workers. We simply didn't want to work on tea & coffee plantations for our then colonial masters. The locals saw no need to do back breaking work for little reward when they'd lead perfectly satisfactory lives until various colonial invasions 🙂

    Hence the importation of Indian tamil workers. Tamils have been living is SL for at least 1,000 years (?) and had thus become Sri Lankan tamils. Sri Lankan Tamils generally looked down on Indian Tamils, like Londoners look down on Croydon Chavs.

    As for tamil suicide bombers, many were educated middle class kids. There was enough real and perceived discrimination, revenge against the deaths of family members by the armed forces etc., to enable the LTTE to tap into this deep sense of alienation, frustration and ethnic hatred to create suicide bombers. Their motivation remains purely nationalistic. There are no religious rewards or virgins awaiting the LTTE suicide bombers, only the gratitude and honour accorded to them by the group and their supporters.

    The Sinhalese (to the best of my knowledge) have yet to produce a single suicide bomber. They love life too much!

    Disclaimer: Sri Lankan (anti-LTTE) in UK. I’m so culturally attuned, I can binge drink you all under the table.


  23. piggy kosher says:

    I doubt it Mango.


  24. Grant says:

    Can I make a plea for people who post as “Anonymous” to get a posting name, otherwise it is all very confusing ?


  25. Mango says:

    Piggy, that sounds like a challenge 🙂

    OK any decent pub with an outside smoking area serving good London Pride. Primrose Hill area’s always good..