As international pressure continues to mount on the government on the human rights issue, supported by human rights groups and some western countries, including the United States, the government is using all options available to boost its image both locally and overseas.
Government propaganda has targeted the local voter base while overseas millions of rupees is being spent on US based firms to promote the country among investors and the US Congress. Propaganda targeting the local audience is being carried out by government ministers and parliamentarians with the unwritten theme being the need to put the country first above all else.
The Sri Lankan government is paying a top British PR firm about £3m ($4.7m) a year to try to enhance the country’s post-war image, the BBC understands. Bell Pottinger Group was recently hired to lobby UK, UN and EU officials. The government says it employs several PR companies but will not disclose their names or the amount paid. Bell Pottinger also refused to give details.
PROPAGANDA WAR EQUALS WAR – Dr. Chris Nonis
The international war continues and the international propaganda war has to be fought with the same focus and same strategy as the physical war that was fought and finished, said Dr. Chris Nonis, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in the UK speaking to the Daily News.
He said he thinks it is important that “we address it with the same focus, and the same strategy, that they all (the government, and defense establishment) have done for the physical war.” Nonis said the same at the Defence Seminar concluded recently.
He said: “That is very important because the war that is being fought, and I’ve said it previously in an interview, I’ve said ‘proxy propaganda war’- but I chose my words very carefully. It is a war.
“I don’t think it can be laughed off in terms of ‘lack of communication’ or ‘lack of marketing’. It is literally a war, because the funds used by the rump of the LTTE to procure arms are now being diverted to fight this propaganda war, and I think it’s important that we understand the seriousness and gravity of that, and the resources therefore and strategy that needs to be put in to combat it, because it uses social media and other media, and an enormous network of international money laundering and financial transactions.”
“It is used, as I said earlier, to prey on opinion leaders and it influences people, particularly where there is a very narrow margin in terms of votes, so it appeals to the domestic electoral compulsions of certain countries. It is essentially down to votes and funds, which we need to be aware of, when we are unduly criticised from certain sectors.”