Earlier Channel 4 telecast last Year the Genocide of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Now a New Documentary is being released and it will be shown to UNHR.
Would they take action against Rajapakshe and his band of Thugs at least now?
About the Film No Fire Zone, The killing Fields of Sri Lanka”
Carefully evidenced and powerfully measured, ‘No Fire Zone’ is a feature length film about the final awful months of the 26 year long Sri Lankan civil war told by the people who lived through it. It is a meticulous and chilling expose of some of the worst war crimes and crimes against humanity of recent times – told through the extraordinary personal stories of a small group of characters and also through some of the most dramatic and disturbing video evidence ever recorded.
This footage allows us to document the day to day horror of this war in a way almost never done before: Footage recorded by both the victims and perpetrators on mobile phones and small cameras – viscerally powerful actuality from the battlefield, from inside the crudely dug civilian bunkers and over-crowded makeshift hospitals.
Footage which is nothing less than direct evidence of war crimes, summary execution, torture and sexual violence.
This was supposed to be a war conducted in secret. The Government excluded the international press, forced the UN to leave the war zone and ruthlessly silenced the Sri Lankan media – literally dozens of media workers were killed, exiled or disappeared. While the world looked away in the first few months of 2009 around 40,000 to 70,000 civilians were massacred – mostly by Sri Lankan government shelling, though the Tamil Tigers also stand accused of war crimes.
The film starts in September 2008. An air of deep foreboding hung over Kilinochchi– the de facto capital of the Tamil homelands of Northern Sri Lanka. The armed forces of the ultra-nationalist Sinhalese government of Sri Lanka were on the move, and the brutal secessionist army of the Tamil Tigers was on the retreat. After a twenty-six year revolt – the scene was set for the final awful endgame.
We have looked at and translated hours of raw footage which captures the day-to-day life of the people who lived and in many cases died – during the 138 days of hell which form the central narrative of our film. This footage is an incredibly intimate account of human suffering.
But the film is also built around compelling personal stories. There is Vany – a young British Tamil who was visiting relatives in Sri Lanka who became trapped along with hundreds of thousands of other men, women and children, desperately fleeing the government onslaught. She had trained as a medical technician in the UK, now she found herself helping in a makeshift hospital while doctors tried to treat hundreds of desperately injured people, in some cases performing major surgery without general anaesthetic.
Other people who tell their stories include two of the last UN workers – Peter Mackay and Benjamin Dix – forced to leave on the orders of the UN which, they feel, was betraying its fundamental duty to protect.
Inevitably too, this film is the personal story of some who didn’t make it.
‘No Fire Zone’ also brings the story up to date. The Sri Lankan government still denies this all happened in what thy describe as an “humanitarian rescue”. The repression and ethnic restructuring of the Tamil homelands in the north of Sri Lanka continues – journalists and government critics are still disappearing. The government will tolerate no opposition and have even turned on their own judiciary, impeaching the Chief Justice of the country when she found they had acted unconstitutionally.
Without truth there can be no justice in Sri Lanka. And without justice there can be no peace. We hope our film can be part of that truth-telling.
We offer this film, not just as the definitive film of record, but also in the hope it will jolt the international community and audience to call for action.
Trailer of the Film No Fire Zone.
The Film Director‘s Blog.
Published February 11, 2013
Callum Macrae, for the Pulitzer Center
This is a blog published today which I wrote for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Like all crimes, it was all supposed to be conducted in secret.
In September 2008, as Sri Lankan government forces pushed the fighters of the Tamil Tigers further and further back into the Tamil homelands of the north, the government ordered the UN to evacuate their last few international workers from Kilinochchi, the Tigers’ de facto capital.
The reason, they said, was they could no longer guarantee their safety.
The real reason was far less honorable: They did not want any witnesses to what was coming.
One of the UN staff, communications Officer Benjamin Dix, recalls how distressed and angry they felt. A mood which was not improved by the celebratory party the UN threw for them when they escaped the war zone.
“I remember feeling pretty disgusted by that party. I didn’t see that there was anything there to celebrate. What we had actually done was complete abandonment of our duty of protection of civilians in a conflict situation,” he said.
The next day Dix resigned from his post. But even he had no idea just how catastrophic that abandonment was, how awful was the disaster that was about to befall the people left behind.
With the UN out of the region, with international media excluded and local journalists and critics silenced, exiled, disappeared or in fear of their life, the government felt ready to launch the final offensive.
On January 2, 2009, Kilinochchi fell. Between 300,000 and 400,000 civilians were on the run, fleeing further into the Tiger-held territory. But they were fleeing into a terrible trap – a trap which would see tens of thousands of them die, mostly (as a UN panel of experts later concluded) as a result of targeted government shelling.
Back in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, the increasingly autocratic regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, the Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was determined to finish the Tigers off. As the then UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sir John Homes told me: “They were not going to let anybody stop them do that. Either the international community, the media or the fear of humanitarian issues of civilian casualties. And that’s the way it worked out.”
And if any local journalists were thinking of challenging that plan, they were about to receive a painful reminder of what the consequences might be.
Soon after the fall of Kilinochchi, the founding editor of the Colombo Sunday Leader, the Sinhalese writer, Lasantha Wickrementunge, wrote an article attacking the government’s military triumphalism and commitment to a military solution to the Tigers 26-year insurgency. It was not an easy article to write; he had once been a personal friend and admirer of the president.
A few days later, as Wickrementunge was driving to work, he was ambushed and executed by four unknown assailants on motorbikes.
After his death his newspaper published a front page editorial he had written in anticipation of his own murder. It was addressed to his former friend, the president. “For all the dreams you had for our country in your younger days . . . you have trampled on human rights, nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other president before you.”
And he concluded:
“When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”
But pleas concerning this dead journalist had no effect.
To the regime in Colombo, it must have seemed like all the elements were in place: There was no one left to witness what was about to happen.