Thursday, February 5, 2009

Civilian Watch

This will be the first in a running series of posts documenting the deaths of innocent civilians in separatist-group-versus-state conflicts. Throughout the course of the Gaza war, the Palestinian death toll was prominently displayed on front pages across the country. I became curious: are there other separatist-group-versus-state conflicts in other places where civilian life is lost that don't receive the press coverage that Israel perpetually receives?

While this is the first post, my hope, of course, is that it will be the last; civilian death in time of war is a tragedy of the highest order. But, since civilian death is seemingly inevitable in a time of war, I'd like to keep track -- as macabre as that sounds -- both to document the loss of life and to expose news sources for not covering other conflicts as heavily as they cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Simultaneous with the Gaza war -- yet far from the front page -- was another war that took place in Sri Lanka. The Tamil separatist group has been fighting the state there, and, after a brutal campaign, Reuters (via the New York Times) reports today that over 250,000 Tamil remain displaced from their homes. Yesterday, the Times reported that the Sri Lankan army shelled a Tamil hospital, which led sick hospital patients to flee, their destination unknown. More than 12 people were killed in the hospital on Tuesday. In contrast to Israel's shelling of the area near the UNRWA school, there was no apparent provocation from the area surrounding the hospital.

The number of civilian casualties throughout the course of this conflict is not readily available. This shows the lack of access given to the media in Sri Lanka at the moment, another difference between the way Israel handled the war and Sri Lanka has. The death toll could be high -- the AP got footage of the dead from inside the war zone on Monday -- but we can't be sure.

Why isn't there a larger outcry? Why isn't this conflict generating story upon story in the press?

1 comment:

  1. This is so important. Time to roll this blog out, to let major news sources have access to this.

    Also, the writing on this blog is both sensitive and strong.