A plea to take action against the war criminals who still wield an iron fist in Sri Lanka, hiding the horrific extermination of thousands of Tamils during the country’s long civil war.
Last night at just after 11pm British Time, the UK’s Channel 4 showed “some of the most horrific footage [they] have ever broadcast”. The footage formed part of an hour long documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields and looked into the last few weeks of the war in Sri Lanka, and some of the horrific allegations of war crimes that were committed on both sides. The documentary will be available via 4OD to viewers anywhere in the world for only 7 days from 14th June 2011. The video of the hour long show have also been uploaded to youtube and can be viewed in three parts: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 .
As the Independent’s review of the programme opens:
This film contains very disturbing images,” warned Jon Snow at the beginning of Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields. It would, he continued, depict “death, injury, execution and evidence of sexual abuse and murder”. He was right too, though when the final credits rolled you couldn’t help but feel that the worst lay somewhere off screen, less in the atrocities shown than in the moral debasement that had led to them being filmed in the first place, and the terrible banality of the conversations that went on as they were filmed. Two utterly distinct kinds of footage had gone into the making of Channel 4’s account of the closing weeks of the war against the Tamil Tigers. Firstly, there was video filmed by refugees trapped in the appalling “no fire zones” established by the Sri Lankan government, footage knowingly recorded to document a crime. And then there was video recorded by the criminals, as a souvenir of their own barbarity. And grim as the former was, it was the latter that truly shocked and that provided incontrovertible evidence that war crimes had taken place.
It will be a difficult programme for many people to watch. Channel 4’s Head herself advised viewers NOT to watch it! But it is important that as many people as possible see it, or at least read about it, and understand what took place in those weeks in May 2009.
It is also important that people understand that, whilst both this footage and the recent UN Panel of Experts report show that there are credible allegations that the Government of Sri Lanka committed serious war crimes, there has been no serious attempt to bring these war criminals to justice – or even to fully investigate what happened.
The UN Panel of Experts also found credible allegations of war crimes against the LTTE, but most of their leaders are already dead. The leaders of the Sri Lankan army and government responsible for the war crimes are still in power.
Some of the crimes are still taking place – reports say that nearly 4,000 people are still being held in camps more than 2 years after the end of the war to which the international community has no access. Many thousands more are still homeless, jobless and in shock.
So here are a few things that you can do.
1 Tell your friends and family about the documentary, and forward the link once it is available online. Tell people about it via facebook, twitter, and any other tools you have. The hashtag #killingfields will be used on twitter to discuss the documentary.
2 Tell your friends and family that if they want to do something about the situation in Sri Lanka, and if the documentary stirs them into action, then they should go sign a petition at http://www.srilankacampaign.org/takeaction.htm. Talk to people who are talking about the documentary on blogs and social media about the petition, and send them the link.
3. Tell other people who are talking about the documentary on blogs and social media about the petition, and send them this article, and the above links.
4. If you are in Malaysia or elsewhere, consider also donating to the Tamil Forum (Malaysia) Berhad, a non profit company limited by guarantee which is seeking to provide relief and rehabilitation to the hundreds of thousands of Tamils who are homeless, displaced and suffering in Sri Lanka without jeapordising their long term political interests.
Quoting from the Independent again:
“Will they be failed again?” asked Snow at the end, over footage of Tamil civilians pleading for help.
Please also help the Tamil Forum Malaysia Berhad. Send an email to mtamilforum[at]gmail.com for more details.
Shanmuga K may well have been one of those interned or dead if not for a quirk of fate that brought his great-grandfather to the verdant shores of Malaysia almost a century ago from Jaffna. He therefore feels a particular affinity with the problems of Sri Lanka, not because he is concerned by race but because of a sense of relief (and guilt) that he’s alive and well in Malaysia. This time there were no purple bananas drifting into his consciousness – just an overwhelming sense of disgust at the slaughter the videos show.