6/16/2011

Channel 4 airs Sri Lanka's killing fields; government repeats it is not authentic

"Footage of alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, with its echoes of Srebrenica, means the international community is more likely to act, a top lawyer tells Channel 4 News. But is prosecution possible?" Channel 4 questioned in its website yesterday as the government of Sri Lanka denied the one hour video aired by Channel 4 TV stating it was a a mere ‘collection of visuals previously aired through LTTE websites and a minuscule section of the international media, at the behest of parties with vested interests to undermine the present efforts at reconciliation and development taking place in Sri Lanka.'

Documenting the final weeks of the bloody civil war when an estimated 40,000 people died, the Channel 4 documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields reveals shocking new evidence of serious war crimes.
The film includes footage of government soldiers executing bound prisoners; the dead bodies of naked, abused women dumped in a truck; and the bombing of civilian hospitals.
The barbaric images were captured on mobile phones, many apparently by government soldiers filming grim trophy videos.
The faces of a number of the soldiers can be seen while conversations are heard as the killings are discussed.
In one video, a soldier admits he would like to mutilate the corpse of a dead naked woman "if no one was around".
While pressure builds on the international community to answer calls for an investigation, a top international lawyer has told Channel 4 News the use of new technologies has created a sea change in the reporting of serious crimes.
Mobile phone footage, pictures and testimony distributed online has seen information become instantly accessible to a global audience.
"There has never been a greater awareness of these types of crimes than right now, and it is because of the use of social media," Mark Ellis, chief executive of the International Bar Association, told Channel 4 News.
"It is much more difficult for the international community to stay silent when facing this onslaught of evidence shown by the social media process - it increases the likelihood that the international community must act." (Channel 4)

The video shown at UNHRC

The statement of the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka:

“This document, like the Darusman Report, does no more than put together a sequence of events and images, to justify a conclusion arrived at in advance. The origins of this footage are yet to be established, and no one has so far taken responsibility for its contents. It is a mere collection of visuals previously aired through LTTE websites and a minuscule section of the international media, at the behest of parties with vested interests to undermine the present efforts at reconciliation and development taking place in Sri Lanka. The views expressed in the film are without any guarantee of authenticity.
“This is one of the matters before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which is scheduled to complete its work by mid-November 2011.
“When Minister Burt telephoned the Minister of External Affairs during the afternoon of June 14, 2011, Prof. Peiris emphasized that the Sri Lankan Commission is entitled to the space and time to complete its work. He took the opportunity to brief Minister Burt on the significant progress that has been made in a variety of fields.
These, he pointed out, include the demining of vast tracts of land, the resettlement of displaced persons, the reintegration into society of former combatants including child soldiers after exposure to programmes of training, the return to their rightful owners of lands previously included in High Security Zones, and the revival of the economy of areas affected by military operations and restoration of livelihoods of those who, for many decades, had been under the yoke of LTTE terrorism.
It must be noted that, in the interest of transparency, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission invited INGOs who have been aggressively critical, to give evidence before the Commission, but this has been publicly rejected by these organizations.
It is much to be regretted that Minister Burt has taken no account of the Sri Lankan Government’s strong refutation of the suggestion that the Government of Sri Lanka deliberately targeted its own civilians, as alleged in the video.
This is in stark contrast with the visible standards maintained by the Sri Lankan Army during a three year long operation to liberate the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the menace of the LTTE, including bringing to safety 300,000 innocent Tamil civilians being held as human shields by the LTTE which has been proscribed as a terrorist organization in 32 countries.
At this crucial time what Sri Lanka needs from its friends is not threats but the space and support for restoration of what was lost over three decades and the opportunity to move rapidly forward towards reconciliation and economic development.”

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