The documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished”, was aired by Britain’s Channel 4 on Wednesday (14).
The documentary is a follow-up to last year’s controversial documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”. The new documentary, made by the same team reiterates accusations on “War Crimes” during the latter stages of the conflict.
It also makes new accusations on Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself to indiscriminate killings of civilians and summary executions of captured LTTE fighters. The film was released at a time when Sri Lanka finds itself battling a resolution the United States has brought before the UNHRC in Geneva. In light of such developments, The Nation contacted several individuals to take their comments.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Paris, Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, said the documentary was part of a neo-colonialist effort of the British media to practice the ‘divide and rule’ policy of British colonialism which actually created the ethnic problem in the first place.
“This film is one-sided, subjective, unprofessional and blatantly propagandist. It is an attempt to win the war of world opinion, the battle of narratives, so that the wounds of Sri Lanka never heal, traumatic memories never fade, hatreds and enmities are re-kindled, and the conditions are created to reverse Sri Lanka’s victory over the Tigers.
It helps to create the psychological, ideological and diplomatic space for the Tamil Eelam project,” he said. Jayatilleka said while he could not dismiss every photograph and piece of footage as counterfeit, as in the first Channel 4 film “the visuals do not bear out the accompanying narrative. They do not prove the near-hysterical charges”.
Regarding the view that a democratic government cannot compare itself to the level of a terrorist organisation and must adhere to higher standards with regard to human rights, Jayatilleka said this was indeed true, and the standards of conduct of the Sri Lankan armed forces taken as a whole, were indeed higher than those demonstrated by the Tigers throughout thirty years of war. He pointed to the LTTE’s massacres in Habarana and Arantalawa as just two examples of the Tigers’ brutality which the West has not spoken of.
He also claimed the West was being “selective and hypocritical” when it makes the point about standards of conduct. Jayatilleka pointed to the firebombing of the city of Dresden by the Allies in World War II, and the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
He also pointed to the US’s recent actions in Fallujah, Iraq, where the number of non-combatant casualties was very high. “Where is the accountability for those deaths? What of international law?” he queried.
When questioned as to how Sri Lanka could be affected if the resolution is passed at the UNHRC, Jayatilleka said he was still hopeful that it will not come to that. “If however, the resolution were to pass in its present form and with its present content, it would mean that an invisible noose has been thrown around Sri Lanka and its armed forces, and that noose will be tightened,” he warned.