There's something deeply disturbing about the story of grenades being chucked into the Maharaja TV station near Colombo in Sri Lanka. Because there are only a couple of ways of looking at it when you bear in mind the station had been highly criticised by the government for reporting on a Tamil suicide bombing last week:
When asked who carried out the attack, MTV head Chevaan Daniel told Reuters news agency: "It's either that the citizens of Sri Lanka are able to drive around attacking institutions armed with weapons and grenades, or there is a hand behind it."
Yes, what he's diplomatically trying to say is that not every Sri Lankan citizen will have as ready access to weapons and grenades as the military, for example. And if this were indeed found to be an attack on independent journalists just for reporting the news, it's an appalling crime against freedom of expression.
It's another reminder that while journalists in the UK busy themselves with droning on about "Ooh, look at that bloke who used to be on the telly, doesn't he look rubbish now?" and "Oh noes! The evil abroaders are coming over here to rape our jobs!" and "Eeek! We want to keep our inefficient expensive old lightbulbs because of the EU or something or nothing, and they're probably bad for you, although there isn't a great deal of peer-reviewed science on the subject, but anyway - EU and therefore evil and wrong!", journalists in other countries live under the threat of death, kidnap or intimidation, for talking about real stories that actually matter, not making up lies to scare old ladies living in the home counties. Most Brit journos aren't fit to put it on their passports in comparison to those brave souls who really do suffer to broadcast the truth, because they think it really is important - and sometimes it is a matter of life and death.
It's interesting how the Sri Lanka violence hasn't really found its way into mainstream news, apart from Al Jazeera and the BBC. There may be some who snort and say "Why aren't the left interested in the Tamil Tigers as much as they are in Hamas?" (or indeed "Why aren't those who are cheering the IDF violence to the rafters snottily asking for donations to the Sri Lankan army on their shit racist blogs?") but both would be to miss the point. It's not the same kind of conflict in the same kind of place, and I must admit to not knowing the entire backstory. The only parallel to draw, perhaps, would be the intention to eradicate terrorism through annihilation; and only history will tell us, in the case of Sri Lanka or Gaza, what the outcome or wisdom of that will be.
Equally interesting is this:
The US embassy said in a statement that it "deplores this latest in a series of criminal attacks on the independent media in Sri Lanka".
See, the US are indeed capable of condemning atrocities, after all.