Curtain up in Geneva – Amnesty screens Sri Lanka documentary at UN
The Sri Lankan ambassador to the UN is not very pleased with Amnesty. In fact Ravinatha Aryasinha has gone so far as to issue a public letter calling for Amnesty’s consultative status at UN be withdrawn. The reason is a screening we are co-hosting with Human Rights Watch today, in Geneva.
No Fire Zone: Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields is the third part in Channel 4’s acclaimed "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" series. The series has made quite a stir, and has won two consecutive Amnesty Media awards, amongst other accolades. The deadline for entry to this year’s awards is today, by the way and this final instalment could well be a contender. It shows the gruesome final bloody months of the Sri Lankan armed conflict in 2009. The footage of executions, petrified civilians under fire and women who have been raped and killed, was recorded on phones by victims and also by soldiers in the Sri Lankan armed forces who made the videos as macabre trophies.
The audience for the screening are the delegates at the UN Human Rights Council session, and the screening is happening just ahead of a crucial UN resolution on the war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sri Lankan conflict. Amnesty is calling for a strong resolution on Sri Lanka to be adopted.
The Sri Lankan government has so far completely failed to follow up in any credible way on domestic and international recommendations that alleged killings of thousands of civilians at the hands of the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE during the final months of the armed conflict be investigated. They went to such lengths to ensure the closing chapter of the conflict took place out of the glare of international scrutiny that this sort of documentary evidence is of crucial importance in reminding the UN why it is so vital to challenge the impunity for war crimes in Sri Lanka. You can read about this harrowing episode, when the 12 year-old son of one of the Tamil leaders is ‘handed a snack and then taken out and shot’. A poigniant series of images which underscore the merciless nature of the killing spree underway as the conflict ended.
Despite the end to Sri Lanka’s armed conflict, the government has stepped up its crackdown on dissenting views in a bid to consolidate power. Those harassed, threatened or violently attacked include politicians, the judiciary, human rights defenders and journalists. This is a documentary which reaches back into history, but the problems in Sri Lanka are on-going and the need to address them is urgent.
For more information, including a brief introduction to the documentary by Director Callum Macrae, visit the website: http://nofirezone.org/
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