The Propaganda Debacle of Nintavur
In June 1990, the SL army planned a massacre of Muslims in Nintavur, but in their enthusiasm told the media about it before it was supposed to happen.
The attack was aborted, but the international media carried the news. The Associated Press (23 June 1990) reported the following -
'Tamil guerillas hacked to death 62 Muslim villagers in eastern Sri Lanka yesterday, accusing them of being government informants, the Defence Ministry and an opposition Muslim leader said. The massacre at Nintavur came on the eleventh day of war between Tamil separatists and Sri Lankan forces for control of the northeast...The Defence Ministry said troops found the bodies of Muslim men, women and children in Nintavur.
Military officials said rebels used knives to kill the villagers. Survivors said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam raided the village early yesterday because they feared the residents would reveal their jungle hideaway, according to Mahroof Gani of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress an opposition party. He said that the rebels set fire to a mosque, looted and burnt down houses and left placards warning Muslims not to work for the government....'
The next day AP had to recant the story, and the London Sunday Times (24 June 1990) published the following -
'The military admitted yesterday that its report that Tamil Tiger separatists had hacked to death 62 Muslim men, women and children was false... They claimed their earlier report was based on faulty information from residents. The allegation was reported by international news agencies and appeared in newspapers around the world.'
What is interesting here is how the Defense Ministry had detailed description of a massacre that never took place. The planning must have been so meticulous as to know in advance what the end result would.