Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sri Lanka fails to counter alleged Channel 4 propaganda

The Asian Tribune recently made an interesting observation on Sri Lanka's Public Diplomacy capabilities. The article refers to the screening of the Channel 4 documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Field’, at the Capitol Hill on July 15. It says,
"...the foreign policy handlers for Sri Lanka in Colombo and Washington failed to use strategic communication and public diplomacy to remove this event from the headlines focusing on the man, McGovern, who has a record of maintaining contacts and supporting terrorist/guerilla movements whose main aim was to destabilize or overthrow democratically elected governments."
It further says,
"This writer who was in the U.S. State Department’s diplomatic outpost in Colombo saw how the American Foreign Service Officers anticipated events, developments and their impact in advance to take appropriate measures to use strategic communication and public diplomacy to act to advance American interests in Sri Lanka or her immediate neighborhood.
The foreign policy advisers of Sri Lanka’s presidential secretariat, those ‘experts’ in the foreign ministry or its overseas representatives need to attend the American Foreign Service Training Institute..."
Most South Asian countries are not very advanced communications societies and  bureaucracies therein may not always be adept at navigating the world of global media. For many it may not be worth the time. Sri Lanka is likely to feel the heat all the more in the coming few years with the international community and even Ban Ki Moon himself asking for genuine and thorough investigations into the alleged atrocities committed by the armed forces during the Eelam War IV. The Indian foreign policy establishment in the meantime are ambiguous in their response to the airing of the Channel 4 documentary and has refused to react/comment on the matter. (Read here: Lanka war crimes: No comments, says Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao)

-- Madhur 
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